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What poker can teach you about living through a pandemic

If 2020 were a game of poker, it’s safe to say we drew a bad hand. While “uncertainty” is the word of the year, it’s easy to forget that we do have control over some things. While much of life (and poker) is chance, it’s possible to change your luck based on how you play your cards.

Human behavior expert Maria Konnikova says poker is the perfect metaphor for life: “The game is a high-risk, high-reward environment where players make critical decisions based on incomplete information.”

In 2017, Konnikova, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology, decided to take on a year-long project: learning poker as a way to better understand the difference between skill and luck. She convinced Poker Hall of Fame inductee Erik Seidel to be her mentor and immersed herself in strategies of the game. After a fair share of setbacks and folds, she eventually started winning. And about a year later, she had earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from Texas Hold’em tournaments, won a major title, and got a sponsor.

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