Maria Konnikova is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, television producer, podcaster and professional poker player.
Born in Moscow, Maria’s family moved to Massachusetts when she was four years old. A natural writer, Maria produced her first work – a five-page story in Russian – at just five years of age. In fourth grade she wrote her very own play, and years later she would go on to study at Harvard, graduating with a BA in Psychology and Creative Writing.
It was after graduating from Harvard that Maria’s writing career truly began to take shape. After working as a producer on the Charlie Rose Show and having her writing published in Scientific American and The New Yorker, her first book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, was nominated for an Agatha Award and the Anthony Award for Best Nonfiction in 2013.
Maria’s lifelong curiosity in the human psyche led her, inevitably, to poker. After becoming interested by John von Neumann’s game theory, she contacted professional poker player Erik Seidel to learn more about the game, and would spend a year learning and developing her skills under Seidel’s mentorship.
In 2018 she announced herself on the big stage, winning the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) National Event and taking home a cash prize of US$84,600. The win earned Maria a Platinum Pass worth US$30,000 and entry to the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) in 2019. After her 2018 win Maria decided to delay her book about her journey into poker, The Biggest Bluff, to compete in even more tournaments with higher stakes. A formidable player, her total winnings as a professional player amount to over US$300,000 to date.
On re-joining PokerStars Team Pro as an ambassador, Maria said: “I’m very happy to once again be joining the PokerStars team as an ambassador. Poker is a game of skill that can teach us so much about our minds and ourselves — and I can’t wait to share my passion for it along with the incredible team at PokerStars.
“I’m excited for the vision that PokerStars has for U.S. expansion and am thrilled to play a small part in helping the world appreciate the true beauty and promise of a game I have come to love.”
When not at the tables, Maria also works as a professional speaker, and has delivered talks about a wide range of subjects around decision making, creativity, learning and, of course, psychology.
She’s delivered keynote speeches at prestigious events around the world including the World Economic Forum at Davos, TEDNYC and TEDx, and has also developed her own interactive decision-making workshops that use poker as a tool to explore the intricacies of how the mind works.
Maria plays online poker exclusively at PokerStars under the name ‘Mkonnikova.’