Maria Konnikova
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Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova is an award-winning author and champion poker player who has taught the skills of creativity and optimal decision-making to audiences around the world.

Psychologist, Best-Selling Author of THE CONFIDENCE GAME, and MASTERMIND: HOW TO THINK LIKE SHERLOCK HOLMES, Contributing Writer for the New Yorker

Expertise In:

  • Creativity
  • Happiness and Mindfulness
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Inspiring Lives
  • Motivation

Audience & Industry

  • Associations
  • Corporations
  • Sales Professionals
  • Senior Management Groups
  • The Technology Industry

Maria Konnikova is an award-winning author, champion poker player, and writer for The New Yorker. She is an ambassador for PokerStars Team Pro and has written two New York Times bestsellers: ‘The Confidence Game,’ winner of the 2016 Robert P. Balles Prize in Critical Thinking, and ‘Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes,’ an Anthony and Agatha Award finalist.

Maria Konnikova is the only individual in the world to combine three distinct and complimentary skillsets: apart from being a bestselling author and award-winning journalist, Maria is an international poker champion and a Columbia University-trained psychologist.

Konnikova’s doctoral work on risky and emotional decision-making in uncertain environments, her practical experience as a professional poker player, and her ability to explain complex phenomena in an engaging and straightforward manner, form a powerful combination for insight into the human decision-making process that is rare to find.

She speaks about a range of subjects involving decision-making, creativity, learning, and the psychology behind everyday life. She has given dozens of keynotes around the world; been a featured speaker at conferences like the World Economic Forum at Davos, TEDNYC and TEDx, and SXSW; led corporate retreats and annual meetings; and taught the key skills of optimal decision making to groups of all ages.

No two talks are ever the same – though all draw on a combination of psychological research, real-life examples, Konnikova’s personal experiences at the poker table and in the world of confidence artists, and her extensive background in journalism.

Konnikova is currently working on a book about poker and the balance of skill and luck in life, ‘The Biggest Bluff,’ to be published in 2019 by Penguin Press. She also hosts the podcast The Grift from Panoply Media, and is currently a visiting fellow at NYU’s School of Journalism.

Featured Videos

Featured Experiences

The Poker Game of Life: Using Poker to Enhance Thinking and Decision Making

In this talk, Maria Konnikova combines her personal experience as a champion poker player with her original research into the psychology of human decision-making to explore how we can all learn to make better decisions in every aspect of our lives – from the negotiating table to our personal relationships. How can we think probabilistically, manage our emotions, evaluate risk, distinguish the noise of chance from the elements of control, learn when to go all in, and when to fold? Journey with Konnikova into some of the deepest crevices of the human mind, and emerge with a roadmap for how you can – immediately and practically – become a clearer thinker and more optimal decision maker in all areas of your life.  

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: The Scientific Method of the Mind

No fictional character is more renowned for his powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes. But is his extraordinary intellect merely a gift of fiction, or can we learn to cultivate these abilities ourselves, to improve our lives at work and at home? We can, as Maria Konnikova shows us in this talk. Beginning with the “brain attic” – Holmes’s metaphor for how we store information and organize knowledge – she unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Drawing on twenty-first-century neuroscience and psychology, this talk explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, it shows how each of us, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen our perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our own creative powers.

The Art of Persuasion, Trust, and Confidence: What We Can Learn from Con Artists

When Maria Konnikova was working on her best-selling book, ‘The Confidence Game,’ she spent over three years in the company of confidence artists and their victims – learning the intimate techniques of persuasion and deception from the people who practice it best. In this talk, Konnikova explores the psychology of the con and why even the smartest people are susceptible to it. She’ll also show us what we can do, as professionals and as humans, to avoid the pitfalls that our humanity creates for us without losing our ability to trust. Join her in exploring what con artists can teach us about the essence of persuasion and trust. You will not only learn to spot and arm yourself against deception and fraud – in everything from potential investment opportunities to personal relationships – but will emerge knowing how to use the tools of the con artist’s toolbox to become a better and more confident persuader yourself. After all, why can’t we use the tricks of the best influencers in the world to make that world a better place?