Sports Pyschology Guy Part 2

Had a lot of interest from people about Jared Tendler the sports pyschologist, unfortunately with the WSOPE on I havent had time to go into depth about it on this blog, other than the articles I am writing for Pokernews (Parts one and two here). Once the WSOPE is over I plan on talking a lot about it, but until then here are the cliffnotes.

Had a really bad run over the last 12 months, so much so I haven't played that much this year or ventured out live. Genuinely considered stopping playing for good a few times and even went to that cold dark place of pondering whether poker was rigged or not. As a direct result, I started playing really timid and cagey, almost pre-empting bad luck and trying to get away with losing the minimum when I was holding monsters. I also was really lazy with working on my game away from the table.

Rather than all of a sudden giving me a new found confidence or ability, Jared has been working on making me understand why I do the negative things I do at the table, as well as giving me the tools to teach myself how to rectify them. A lot of my tilt issues it would appear are actually a direct result of being a poker journalist. I recall me old mucker Kevin Stevens once asking if being a poker journo has hindered my game at all and I said no, now I say yes. Years of interviewing players who bink a massive tournament had left me with a 'when is it gonna be my turn' mentality, and I reacted to the bad luck by surmising it was unfair, and it should be my time soon. Rather than actually working harder away from the table, I was just biding my time until I magically got lucky and won a big tournament. Also, because I am quite well known in UK poker circles, I was putting unrealistic pressure on myself to do well because I felt I had something to prove. What actually happened as a result was that I avoided situations where I was putting myself at risk, situations where I felt like I was being exposed as not as good a player as I actually wanted to be, and it actually took the gamble away from my game.

To get myself out of this rut, its all been about small incremental changes each and every session, rather than some big single gesture that would turn me into Phil Ivey. Jared has shown me how to effectively pick out which hands need further study, how to make small goals for each and every session as well as larger goals for the rest of my poker tenure.

Is it working? Yes. Naturally at first it went really well, by placebo to a great extent, but I had a really bad session a few weeks ago where I went on insane monkey tilt, probably worse than I have all year. That was actually a real blessing in disguise, because as bad as I played, I still played better than I had in the same spot a few months ago. Even though I was running awful, I was taking necessary calculated risks that I wouldn't have a few months ago. Since then I have been pretty fearless at the tables, and when I get outdrawn I barely react to it (I still do a little bit, but I don't throw the toys out the pram any more). What's more I am taking the time after every session to study key hands and seek out further learning.

Has he made me a better player? Not directly no, he doesnt even really play poker himself so the technical aspect is down to me. What he has done is about 95% cured me of a crippling risk aversion and victim mentality I have had for the last year. He has also shown me how to seek out and develop my learning of the game on my own. In a lot of ways I feel like I am starting from scratch again with poker (I havent gone busto btw lol) but I also feel like I am building towards something for the first time in a long time.

Drop me a line if you are interested in working with Jared, his website is HERE

Tony Blair Lookalikes

Went to the English Poker Open party last night in Nottingham, it was fun enough. The 'entertainment' for the night was a Tony Blair lookalike. Thats just what you need for a room full of poker players who probably venture out rarely and know very little about the real world, half of them not even from the UK - someone impersonating a former prime minister. The poor bloke died on his arse worse than any stand up I have ever seen, and I used to work in a comedy club.

It did get us wondering about the life and income of a celebrity impersonator. Colchester Kev and I agreed that he probably got at least a grand for the appearance, probably two grand. This was after all an event that (otherwise) pulled out all the stops and was put on for a lot of people with money. Whats more, it reminded me of hearing about what the rate the guy who played Blakey from on the buses charged for one hour back in 1997 - £5000. Now obviously Blakey was the real Blakey, but still, nice work if you can get it.

Edit: Found out - a neat grand for two hours. A David Brent lookalike gets about £1300 for the same time and a Borat lookalike gets £1700.

Probably serves me right for taking the mickey out of him, but on the way home I broke down about 8 miles from my house in Chesterfield. Thankfully plenty of my fellow motorists saw the opportunity to beep me and call me a wanker while I was stood in a laybay waiting for the AA. The clutch went on my car, which normally would be really gutting but I had a real sense of gratitude about the whole thing, as daft as that is. Because I was lucky I broke down near my house, on a hard shoulder, the AA guy came really quickly, I have never had any problems in nearly four years with this particular car and I live about 10 doors down from a clutch specialists. All in all, it could have been much worse. I was more gutted that my naughty little dog tore up his new cushion that cost £20 when I got back than this, which will probably cost me £300 minimum.

We'll wait and see what the garage says I suppose, I am hoping to get down to DTD again at least once while the EPO is on, so lets see if I am still optimistic when I get my quote.

Sports Psychology Guy

Anyone who has seen my feature on Pokernews will know that I have been working with a sports psychology expert lately. He is actually a very well respected figure in online poker,Jared Tendler, who is a Stoxpoker coach. We are working on a few worky things together and he is giving me a taste of his program, I must say its been an amazing experience so far. The article is here and its actually a few weeks behind and we are deep into the program. He wont make you a better player, but he will give you the tools to always play your best and learn to become a better player. When I met him my biggest issue was that I have had this victim mentality after year where I thought I ran worse than anyone in the world. A few weeks on and I dont feel like that (as much) any more and although I ran quite bad, I have realised that I am not as good a player as I thought I was and wasnt as unlucky as I thought either.

It sounds awful, to admit you are not as good a player as you thought, but it actually feels liberating. The world seemed small and progressing as a player seemed impossible a month or two ago, because I was so poorly equipped to handle the massive downswing I went on. Now it feels like I have something to work towards and I am processing information and learning at a much faster rate than I thought possible. The other day I had a sweat session with someone and probably had the most complex mathematical discussion I have ever had, and it all went in, whereas normally I would just agree and look for a spot to change the subject.

I'm not crushing or anything, in fact this is only just a winning year for me (Partially because I haven't played much at all, barely played live either) but what I am learning is basically, how to learn. Making small incremental changes each and every session and documenting everything, it makes a massive difference and with the exception of one particularly awful session, I havent tilted at all (Tilting for me, btw, is playing passive and defensive).

Whats more, I have been able to apply what he has been teaching me in my day to day life. I have become much better at managing my time overall, I have been really consistent with going to the gym and have even started to review my spending habits, which were getting out of control.

I know sports psychology seems a bit wishy washy to some, and many turn their noses up at in in poker circles, but its all really solid, commonsense stuff, small useful, incremental changes that all add up. I'm going to go on about it a whole lot more on this blog, but dont want to go ahead of myself on the pokernews articles I am writing.

Finally, this made me lol

GUKPT Sheffield & Industry Musings

Found out yesterday that Sheffield is getting a G Casino and also, it is being considered for a stop on next year’s Grosvenor UK Poker Tour. It doesn’t get much better than that for me really, Sheffield really needs a proper poker venue, no offence to Napoleons (I by that I mean I am about to offend it) but its bloody awful, feels like a working men’s club. You can have a 40 runner tournament at Naps and by the time you get to three tables everyone is talking about chopping, I nearly got chased out of there with burning sticks and pitch forks once for refusing to do a saver deal.

A plush new G casino, presumably near the M1, will be fantastic and a GUKPT here next year will be the easiest weeks work for me of the year. My guess, for anyone who knows Sheffield, is that it will be somewhere near the Cineworld/Don Valley Stadium/Meadowhall are rather than the city centre. Its on the tramlines, its near loads of other entertainments, its near Rotherham and its near the M1 – seems ideal. I heard someone say it will be in Totley, which is a really odd place as its a quiet residential area which isn’t that easy to get too. Both are a five minute drive for me so I don’t really care.

Speaking of work, it’s about to get a whole lot busier. Starting at the English Poker Open in just over a week, then onto the WSOPE and the EPT. This should be my biggest month of the year as a journalist, with the poker world on my doorstep (Well it’s a two hour train ride followed by 4 stops on the tube, but in world terms) and I am planning on working my ass off. Since we got the dog, my workrate has plummeted and my expenditure has skyrocketed, but this is a good chance to get back on track.

Main reason that my workrate has plummeted has been a combination of lazyness, breaking myself in for my new role at Pokernews and also the dog taking up my time. Thankfully he is starting to become a really well behaved little mutt that respects me when I am working, so that is less of an issue. Another reason, perhaps, is that I am really seeing the poker media industry decline at the moment, recession and all that. Not the overall poker industry, that’s still thriving, but magazines and websites are feeling the pinch.

Thankfully for me, Pokernews seem to be one of the few places that’s getting bigger (At least that’s my impression, I am not sure about the high up inner workings of the place) but lots of other places are really struggling. It seems it takes longer to get paid for work (Pokernews pay me usually within a week, so discount them), it’s the nature of the job but sometimes magazines can be 6 months before they pay you. The original incarnation of WPT magazine is no more (The one you see in the shops these days is a new publisher), Flush magazine have gone under and it won’t surprise me to see another few bite the dust before times get better. A year ago I used to be inundated with work offers from random sources that I had to knock back because I didn’t have the time, that doesn’t happen much anymore and I feel very lucky that I have a regular income from one of the more solid players in the industry.

Is it worse than what other industries are facing in the recession? Probably not. There are also plenty of silver linings on the clouds at the moment. If and when the US market is allowed to open its doors to the rest of the online poker world, thats fantastic news for all. Magazines will see advertising revenues boost, affiliate websites will see more CPAs/MGRs, smaller poker rooms will see traffic increase, bigger poker rooms will see more new yank players signing up and we could well have another mini-boom. I think (and have written) that PKR would become huge in that scenario, because I think the yanks would go crazy for its 3D graphics and being able to call people a loser via emoticon over the interweb.

Anyhoo, I digress, here is a pic of me and the missus battling the evil empire aboard a rebel spaceship:
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