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


Anonymous said...

I write and blog about poker every day and I agree it can really hinder you in some aspects. I too have gone through the "when is it my turn" when reading and writing about people seemingly winning a big MTT every week.

Barry Carter said...

It really does, we are also lucky in that we have access to learning others might not too. Unfortunately just about every player I speak to these days are millionaires, which does make you feel a bit small.

Also there is no 'off' switch from poker, no break back into normality.

Doing live updates is the worst, Im glad I dont do them anymore. You have to watch hours upon hours of people you dont always like play for millions while you are stood with a note pad wondering when it will be you.

Anonymous said...

I asked the question originally because I thought writing might act as a bit of a distraction and that having a foot in both camps might very well lead to a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none type scenario.

There aren’t many people who excel in two fields simultaneously but they do exist, so it’s not impossible. What there are a lot more of though are people who have ‘mastered’ one skill and then moved onto another, so maybe specialisation FTW!

Do you ever wonder where your poker would be if you where just concentrating on playing and had no writing safety net?

And don’t get me started on live updating! I saw Nicky O’D nearly cry at an EPT when some idiot called off a 90K stack with KJ pre-flop at 250/500! Criminal.

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