Maria Konnikova is a writer for the New Yorker. Or she was until she went on sabbatical to play poker professionally. After immersing herself in the game while working on her third book, The Biggest Bluff, Konnikova discovered she was quite good at it, winning over $230,000 and a major tournament in a year.
Claudia Dreifus recently interviewed Konnikova for the New York Times and asked her about how she handles being one of the few women on the pro circuit.
When you see someone looking a certain way, you assume they play a certain way. So once I figure out how they view women, I can figure out how to play against them. They’re not seeing me as a poker player, they’re seeing me as a female poker player.
There are people who’d rather die than be bluffed by a woman. They’ll never fold to me because that’s an affront to their masculinity.
I never bluff them. I know that no matter how strong my hand, they are still going to call me because they just can’t fold to a girl.
Other people think women are incapable of bluffing. They think if I’m betting really aggressively, it means I have an incredibly strong hand. I bluff those people all the time.
There are people who think that women shouldn’t be at a poker table, and they try to bully me. So, what do I do? I let them. And I wait to be in a good position so that I can take their chips. Just like life, right?
In a 2015 NPR interview, pro player Annie Duke talked about getting her opponents to pay the stereotype tax.
Tags: Annie Duke books Claudia Dreifus games interviews Maria Konnikova poker The Biggest Bluff
VEDANTAM: She says she divided the men who had stereotypes about her into three categories.
DUKE: One was the flirting chauvinists, and that person was really viewing me in a way that was sexual.
VEDANTAM: With the guys who were like that, Annie could make nice.
DUKE: I never did go out on a date with any of them, but you know, it was kind of flirtatious at the table. And I could use that to my advantage.
VEDANTAM: And then there was the disrespecting chauvinist. Annie says these players thought women weren’t creative.
DUKE: There are strategies that you can use against them. Mainly, you can bluff those people a lot.
VEDANTAM: And then there’s a third kind of guy, perhaps the most reckless.
DUKE: The angry chauvinist.
VEDANTAM: This is a guy who would do anything to avoid being beaten by a woman. Annie says you can’t bluff an angry chauvinist. You just have to wait.
DUKE: What I say is, until they would impale themselves on your chips.