I just completed my second reading of Jared Tendler and Barry Carter’s book, The Mental Game of Poker.
When I read this the first time I didn’t get much out of it. I think I just read it out of obligation b/c it was the book everybody was talking about. I didn’t think that I had issues with my mental game, so I didn’t really try to get much out of it.
But over the past year I’ve realized that I do have a few mental game issues, so I decided to read it again.
This second reading has been so much more enlightening.
Review of ‘The Mental Game of Poker’
The book was very well written and to the point, not any fluff at all. The text succinctly teaches you how to recognize tilt and other mental game issues, and gives you concrete strategies in resolving them, while the Client’s Stories are all very relatable and give good insight into poker mental game issues from a player’s perspective.
The chapters were arranged in a very logical manner, with each building upon the last. The first four expertly give readers an understanding of mental game problems and how to resolve them: 1) Understanding how our game suffers due to tilt; 2) How we learn effectively (the Adult Learning Model, Inchworm concept and the Process Model); 3) The role emotions play in our poker game play; and 4) Strategies for resolving mental game issues.
I found the information regarding the Adult Learning Model in chapter 2 particularly enlightening, especially the discussion of the Unconscious Competence and how the goal is to develop skill sets to that level so that we naturally revert to these at times of stress or high emotions.
One of the best and quickest to implement strategies the book recommends is to incorporate a warm-up into your pre-session routines. I did this, and it’s worked wonders and has allowed me to hit my stride and be in the zone earlier in each session and with more frequency.
There’s a lot of discussion around what your ‘C-game’ is, and how to quantify this. Once you quantify your C-game along with the skill sets within your Unconscious Competence, you can begin to improve your overall game gradually using an Inchworm approach. This is working to improve the lagging parts of your game while adding skill sets to your ‘A-game’ or Unconscious Competence.
This is an awesome strategy that the book discusses which is simply saying logical statements to yourself to help your mind cope with an undesirable situation. These logic statements are peppered throughout the rest of the book in sections where they can have the biggest effect on different tilt issues.
Chapter 5 is 80 pages covering 7 different types of tilt and how to recognize and resolve each. I suffer from Running Bad Tilt, Injustice Tilt and Entitlement Tilt. Putting a name to my areas of tilt helps me to focus on them. The knowledge gained from this chapter has allowed me to breakdown my tilt issues and begin resolving them.
Beyond Tilt, this book also covers three very important aspects of the mental game: Fear, Motivation and Confidence.
This chapter was of immense help as it shined a spotlight on an area of my poker mind that I didn’t realize was totally effecting my play. The book defines fear within poker as the accumulation of anxiety, and anxiety is an accumulation of doubt or uncertainty. Poker is all about dealing with uncertainty: what card will come next, what does my opponent have, what does he think I think he has, etc. Learning to accept this uncertainty is what this chapter really helped me to do. Even if you think you have no fear in poker, you’ll gain a lot from this chapter.
There are a number of reasons we may not be motivated to play poker on any given day: Laziness, running good/bad, burnout and a few others. This chapter gets to the bottom of each reason for un-motivation. It gives ways to break these cycles and get our butts back to the tables. This chapter was a real game changer for me and now I play more frequently and with longer sessions.
Downswings, long bouts of break-even play, bad beats and negative variance all effect a player’s confidence. When you confidence takes a dip, you’re entering C-game territory. This chapter will be of instant help to anyone who has ever suffered from any of the problems listed above.
Since reading this book and putting into action the things that Jared Tendler recommends, I’ve noticed huge improvements. My mindset is much more positive before, during and after sessions. I tilt less, play longer and have more confidence in my game. On the mental game spectrum, I’m closer to the Shark than I am the Fish thanks to this book.
I highly recommend The Mental Game of Poker to every player in the world, regardless of game or stakes played. The concepts covered and skills you gain from it are invaluable and will lead to major improvements for everyone. This is a timeless piece of poker learning. I’m sure that 50 years from now players will still be talking about it.
- THE MENTAL GAME OF POKER
- Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More
- By Jared Tendler, M.S. with Barry Carter
- May 4, 2011, 241 pp. Jared Tendler, LLC $49.95 ISBN 978-0615436135