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Jared Tendler, author of the Mental Game of Poker, came to FTR recently to do an AMA where he answered our communities questions. This is the first of two video responses, where he focuses on Emotions in Poker & Correcting Mistakes.

More on Jared Tendler:

Category: Interview
Tags: Mental Game of Poker, Jared Tendler, AMA
Added by: givememyleg
Poker Room: N/A
Length: 6:10

Discuss this video in our Poker Forum: Jared Tendler AMA: Emotions in Poker & Correcting Mistakes Forum Thread

Full Transcript

Hey Flop Turn River. I know my AMA ended last week, but I wanted to come back and just answer a couple questions via video, especially the ones that needed a little bit more explanation. The first one comes from Fix and he was describing several different problems that he has at the poker table and they all seem to center around the same sort of thing: issues with emotion, overwhelming reason causing some problems.

As a new buyer of the first book, I can tell that you have a beginning understanding of how to break down mental game problems, but the biggest thing that you’re going to want to really look at is in Chapter Four, using the Mental Hand History for being able to break down and resolve your mental game problems. For those who haven’t gotten the book yet, those five steps are describe the problem in as much detail as you possible can using all the thoughts, the feelings, your reactions, your tactical decision making, your behaviors, your actions, whatever will help you describe the problem in as much detail as possible.

It’s a critical first step. A lot of people just sort of only analyze bits and pieces of the problem without really trying to understand what the heck is going one. In order for you to solve a problem, you need to first really get good at identifying what the heck is going on. That’s number one. Step two is define why it makes logical sense that you would think, feel, react, behave, play in that way. This is an important step and a lot of people skip it and they also think that it’s illogical. That the reason that this is happening is completely rational and illogical, but that’s not accurate.

In the mental game, at least as far as I’m concerned, everything is logical and rational and reasonable. What often happens is that we often don’t have the reasons or the logic to understand why it’s happening. Taking that next step to really try to think in that way often times gets people in a very good problem solving mode and eventually leads towards step three, which is why is that logic flawed? We know that there’s a flaw here, because you’re reacting in such a severe way; define what that is.

Step four is, what is the correction? The correction can mean lots of things. It can mean the theoretical correction for that faulty logic. It can also mean the injecting logic, the warm up, the cool down, the things you’re going to do around the game to work on this. The fifth step is kind of a bonus, why is that correction correct? This is getting to the underlying theory that will help to firmly root in the correction to this mental game problem.

What I’ve noticed in you post here is that you use the word “should” several times. This is important for all of you to know, that if you ever use the word “should”, it implies there’s an expectation. You think that your reaction shouldn’t be this way. You should get angry about making a mistake in these spots that you’ve described, except that they do. If you say the word “should”, it also implies that you expect to know why it is happening, which you clearly don’t. You know parts of it, but not all of it and the parts that you’re missing are critical for being able to break down and solve this emotional reaction.

The emotion is not going to go away until you’ve solved all of it. What I found in your post is a couple things. It seems like you have a little bit of a control issue. Controlling the way in which people are playing, the way in which you are thinking, and still lacking a little bit of control on your end for your reactions partially created by the expectation that you should not be reacting that way. Rather than worrying about just how you are reacting, of course you do need to worry about that, but you also need to start looking at why it is that you’re actually reacting that way.

Trying to control other people’s play kind of begs the question, in what ways are you not controlling your game or your mental game? That’s a question for you to answer on your own. The other thing to look at is a bit of entitlement tilt and mistake tilt. Entitlement tilt has its sort of roots in an confidence issue, which as I describe in Chapter Eight, is also connected to illusions of control. I think deep down there’s a part of you, not logically, but deep down there’s a part of you that believes that you have the power or that you wish you had the power to control how people are playing. That, of course, then turns into thinking that you have more control over your own abilities than you actually do.

Perhaps expectations of perfection or, again, things like that that on a logical level you may not think, but deep down are really there. You’ve got to kind of explore these areas and use the book to help you solve the problems. Ultimately, you’ve got to put the work in. Using the Mental Hand History on a regular basis is going to help to break down the problem and also help to resolve it. That’s the key thing, is learning why it’s happening, where it’s happening, that first step so you can recognize that it’s happening in the moment. Inject logic, and then ultimately break down the underlying problem so that you can eventually solve it.

One other thing, I also kind of got the feeling that you feel like mastering the mental game means that you no longer feel emotion, which is not true at all. In my opinion, emotions like anger or fear, at a small level we’re talking about irritation, we’re talking about doubt or uncertainty. These are things that are going to continue to happen as long as you are actively trying to improve yourself in poker and elsewhere in life. I just don’t think that these emotions are ever going to be gone entirely and I don’t know that we would want that to happen.

They are tremendous guides for us. When you are experiencing doubt, there’s something you don’t know. When you’re experiencing frustration, there’s some conflict. Resolve the conflict, figure out what you’re uncertain about, and you’re going to find some answers, you’re going to learn, you’re going to improve yourself. Emotions can be a great guide, and of course there are many times when they are excessive and that’s what we’re talking about. In my opinion, mastering the mental game is really about resolving or solving the excessive emotion, not getting rid of emotion as an entity of itself.

Hopefully, that helps and I wish you all …