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New Yorker writer morphs into a poker champ while penning poker book

January 10, 2018

Forget about quitting her day job to become a great poker player, Maria Konnikova used her day job to do it. The New Yorker writer and best-selling author is in the midst of writing a book about trying to learn the game at the high-stakes level, but to say she's picked up poker quickly would be putting it mildly.

On Tuesday, Konnikova won the PCA National Championship in the Bahamas. And this wasn't just some weekly poker game with some friends. The $1,650 buy-in event paid Konnikova a first-place prize of $84,600.

“I’m thrilled that it happened, and also kind of surprised," Konnikova says in this video shared by Pokerstars:

Of course, Konnikova, who has earned more than $116,000 on the tables since announcing her book deal last March, didn't do it all by herself. The book's premise is that she's being coached by poker legend Erik Seidel, who she thanks profusely in the video. But to take down 290 players required plenty of her own skill (her PhD in psychology didn't hurt) and a lot of hard work.

“Winning this, just kind of, it makes me feel like not only have I not been wasting my time, but all the hours of studying I’ve been putting in, all of the hard work I’ve been doing, because I’ve been working non-stop on this, that it’s actually been paying off," Konnikova said.

Well done, Maria. Now excuse me while I pitch my own book idea to my boss. It's about learning how to become a PGA Tour champion and it involves having Tiger Woods as my coach. Think he'll go for it?