Psychologist Maria Konnikova spent a year learning to play poker, specifically Texas Hold 'em. Why? Because, it is the game that most closely models real life. Some games depend entirely on skill---chess, for instance. Some games depend entirely on chance---matching coin flips, for instance. Texas Hold 'em balances skill and chance.
In her research as a psychologist Konnikova studies decision-making. She wanted to know how professional players decide when to bet, call, check, hold 'em and fold 'em. She met the guys with degrees in math and charts full of statistics. They're not the ones who win. She met the guys who psych out the other players. They win sometimes. The big winners focus on how they make decisions and how they perceive chance.
Her interest was not purely academic. She read the fundamental books for players and apprenticed with a top professional player. She staked herself, started with online poker, played some small tournaments in off-the-strip clubs in Las Vegas and worked her way up to international tournaments with the best of the best.
This book may seem a little off my subject---Dark Stories. But, like Konnikova's previous book, it is research for my dark stories. When I read The Confidence Game, I didn't know I was going to write a book with the title, The Con Man's Son. Similarly, I don't know that I'll write a book about professional poker players. Probably not, in fact. But I will be writing about characters who make decisions.