Book Review: The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists is a fascinating book and almost too incredible to believe. Neil Strauss, an accomplished writer and journalist, penetrates the secret society of male pick-up artists who aim for one night stands by employing "seduction psychology". Not only does Strauss penetrate this underworld as a journalist, he himself becomes one of the world’s greatest seduction artists and king of the hill in Los Angeles. It’s a highly entertaining and provocative book, if a bit R-rated.

I didn’t know seduction communities existed, but a little online research indicates it’s a large market with many followers.

The men portrayed by Strauss become sophisticated studiers of behavioral psychology, meticulously tracking the success and failures of certain phrases or actions. Their end goal is sex, not long-term relationships. Many average looking, mildly extroverted men — through practice and study — become expert seducers.

After I excerpted from The Game in a prior post, one reader asked how I would square the over-the-top hedonism glorified by Strauss with my comments on "raunch feminism". My attitude is people can do whatever they want to do so long as it doesn’t affect me. However, it’s clear that the values of the pick-up artists are not ones I would impart to my children, as I don’t think they lead to overall, long-term happiness. Many characters in Strauss’ account end up depressed, suicidal, or just plain empty. Flesh is flesh, after all. Some men in the book, after leaving the seduction community, can’t get back to thinking of women as anything but sex objects. Oops.

I wonder, though, what businesspeople (and anyone else) can learn from the psychology employed by pick-up artists? Below are some of the tips / lessons for men trying to pick up women that were buried in the book. Which have crossover to the "real world"?

  • You must not do what everyone else does. Ever. Be different.
  • Don’t walk up to a woman who’s all by herself. Woman of beauty are rarely found alone. Better to find a woman in a group.
  • Pick a target in the group and then intrigue her by pretending to be unaffected by her charm. How do you do this? By using a "neg". A neg is neither compliment nor insult — it’s something in-between — it’s an accidental insult or a back-handed compliment.
  • #1 characteristic of an alpha male is the smile. By smiling you look like you’re together, you’re fun, and you’re somebody.
  • An amateur hits on a woman right away. A pro waits eight to ten minutes.
  • Wear a conversation piece.
  • How do you kiss her? Just say, "Would you like to kiss me?" She’ll say one of three things. "Yes" (then kiss her), "Maybe" or hesitates (then kiss her), or "No" (say "I didn’t say you could. It just looked like you had something on your mind.")
  • Recite a memorized opener. The opener should open the group, not just the target.
  • Convey personality to the entire group. Do this by using stories, magic, anecdotes, and humor.
  • Ask the group, "So, how does everybody know each other?" If the target is with one of the guys, find out how long they’ve been together.
  • Give yourself a time constraint ("I have to go in a minute, but we should continue this.") If you don’t, she’ll be thinking, "I wonder when he’s going to leave."
  • How to respond to the "let’s just be friends" speech: "I don’t promise any such thing. Friends don’t put each other into boxes like that. The only thing I’ll promise is never to do anything unless you and I both feel totally comfortable, willing, and ready."
  • Two Indicators of Interest (IOI): she asks what your name is; when you take her hands in yours and squeeze them, she squeezes back.
  • It takes roughly seven hours for a woman to be comfortably led from meet to sex.
  • We’re evolutionary wired to feel aroused when someone smells us. Lean in and tell her she smells good.
  • Interrogation is not seduction. Don’t ask tons of questions. Seduction is the art of setting the stage for two people to choose to reveal themselves to each other.
  • "The word energy is the equivalent of the smell of chocolate to most women in Southern California."
  • Girls don’t respect guys who buy them drinks.
  • The key to physical escalation is two steps forward, one step back.
  • Style’s routine: First, open. Then demonstrate higher value. Next, build rapport and an emotional connection. Finally, create physical connection.
  • "How do you guys know each other?" is a good opener for a group.
  • The secret of personal ads: sound like a selfish prick in the ad, and then be a fascinating, laid-back gentleman on meeting.
  • Anti-slut defense — woman doesn’t want you to think she’s easy, so offers last-minute resistance. Two steps forward, one backward.
  • Women: potential for beauty is as attractive to most men as actual beauty.
  • The less you appear to be trying, the better you do.
  • Create a yes-ladder: capture her attention by asking questions that require an obvious affirmative answer.
  • If you have someone pick a number btwn one and ten, 70% of the time — esp if you rush their decision — they will choose seven.
  • Rapport equals trust plus comfort.
  • Ultimatums are the ultimate expressions of powerlessness, empty threats designed to try to influence a situation someone has no control over.

(Thanks blog reader TG for sending me this book for Christmas, who said he found my blog via one of the online discussion groups for seduction dating.)

16 comments on “Book Review: The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
  • Yes, I’ve read PUA stuff. It’s very interesting, and I think true; however, I also have concerns that it can be weird psychologically to constantly think of socializing as a game and women as objects. I still haven’t come to terms with whether that is bad.

  • The book The Art of Seduction is the best I’ve seen. This seems to be a bit more practical however.

    It is a little creepy to use it because it works so well.

  • I think the analogy between empty sex and bad business relationships holds up all too well.

    If you use seduction techniques to pump and dump your customers, don’t expect repeat business.

    On the other hand, focusing on how to stand out and structure your communications can definitely help any business.

  • This is a great list of things that have crossover to the real world.

    One that fascinates me is the “women don’t respect guys who buy them drinks,” which is both true and false depending on the context.

    Contemporary American women know full well what it means if a drunk guy offers to buy them a drink two minutes after meeting them: they know that accepting the drink means something else because they have radar for this stuff.

    It was Robert Greene (the guy who wrote that “Art of Seduction” referenced above), in his other book “48 laws of power,” that says “Despise the Free Lunch.”

    “What is offered for free is dangerous – it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price – there is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power.”

    Disregarding the creepy and manipulative tone, he has a point.

    Businesswise, let’s say you have a meeting with a magazine or production company. You should know full well what to expect if one of the first things he or she says to you is, “I’ll give you some free magazines and DVD’s at the end of our meeting so you can take home.” It’s very different if at the *end* of the meeting – even if you didn’t manage to find common ground – he or she gives you those freebies anyway without broadcasting it to the world. However, there’s something inside you that knows when this is done goallesly and without outcome. You know full well when you’re being coerced.

    So I think it works both ways. I once had a woman come up to me, and the first thing she asked was “buy me a drink.” When I explained that I don’t buy drinks for people I don’t know, she left without a word to find another guy that would! I’d say 99% of women are not like this – they genuinely want a guy who can offer value by his presence alone.

    But if you’re going to do it anyway – if you’re the type of person who always buys drinks because that’s just who you are – then don’t for a moment reconsider buying them just because you’ll think the other person will read too much into it. Buy drinks if you want to, for whoever you want. It’s their problem if they have issues with the fact that you’re generous and cool. Like I said, if you haven’t worked it out within, it will be visible on the outside.

    (It’s also a U.S./British/Australian thing most of the time. Go to another country – any country in Latin America and some in the Mediterranean for example – and not paying for a woman on a date is almost always frowned upon.)

  • The length of the list is dissuasive and makes me suggest this short cut.

    Go devote a fraction of that energy/resources in refining your sense of picking multibaggers and make some real money/fame – You’ll soon have a variety to choose from those who line up 🙂

  • interesting review, ben. i like how you try to tie it in to the business world.

    what’s interesting is that some of the most successful members of the “community” count success not by the number of notches on their belt but by their ability to become whole and complete individuals first. rather than trying to sleep with more women, they focus on becoming confident individuals who are not afraid to go after what they want.

    by applying this same attitude to the business world, they often find themselves achieving more success in their professional lives as well.

  • Hello all,

    I found Ben’s blog from a post at Scott H. Young’s blog.

    I am a pickup artist and a seducer. I am also a lover of personal development and a struggling newbie entrepreneur, having a sociability, pickup, seduction and relationships advice website, in spanish language.

    First of all, you should take Style’s book with a grain of salt. It’s a novelization of a very diverse community with a lot of different people. Also like a good novelization, reality is very distorted.

    For instance, Tyler from RSD is the evil character in the book, while in reality he’s kind of a cool guy and one of the most prolific gurus in the community.

    Also, the methodology and routines described in the book are focused on canned material. While this might work, they are only crutches. The real goal for every serious seducer would be to develop a naturally attractive personality, what is called “natural game”.

    The ethics issue is always mentioned whenever the seduction community is discussed. I don’t like to talk ethics, because it diminishes a fundamental principle of our community: that we do things that work. We despise political correctness in favor of doing, well, what actually works. The principles, guidelines and materials are heavily field-tested in order to reality-check them. Or put in other words: just because a principle or technice is not ethic, it does not mean it will not work.

    I compare this to martial arts: it’s a series of skills and techniques. You can use martial arts to defend your family, or to hit random people in the head for no reason. However you use them is up to you. But not to research and publish some techniques because of their possible unethical uses would actually be the wrong thing to do.

    Each one of us has a different view on morals and ethics, and you’d be surprised that there are pickup artists and seducers with solid ethics, for instance some of them have never cheated (why? if they are monogamous, and not happy with their current girl they can easily find another one!). There are others that are sleazy as hell. There are some in the middle: I myself am not monogamous, but all my girls are aware of this fact, so I keep open relationships in a sincere way. But that does not have anything to do with the techniques itself or the psychological basis behind them. Anyone can use them as they see fit.

    The one thing that is generally frowned upon is Misogyny. As in general, we share an appreciation for women (more correctly, for what women truly are, not for what our politically correct society wants us to think they are). People who despise women actually have a very hard time relating to them, and these frustrated people usually don’t get very far, because women can smell them coming a mile away, until they shred their frustration and their madonna/whore complexes and embrace women as they are.

    That’s my take on the issue, and I hope it servers to shed some light on the perspective of us seducers.



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