I've written a book: The Mental Game of Poker

Those of you who have been following my blog will be as relieved as I am to say, the book I’ve been working on is finished. For anyone that hasn’t been following, I’ve just wrote a book. Its took almost exactly a year (Not because we are slow, because we both did our other jobs all the way through - and because we are slow). 

I guess the first thing to say is that it’s not really my book, it started off as someone else’s book and ultimately became a joint collaboration. About 18 months ago I met performance coach Jared Tendler who is the leading mental game coach in the poker industry. Jared has worked with hundreds of professional players and made many videos for Stoxpoker and DragtheBar. He is the only performance coach in poker who is from a genuine psychology background, with a Masters Degree in Psychology, thousands of hours of experience as a traditional therapist and previous work as a sports psychology expert in the golf industry.

Jared transformed some major mental game issues I had at the tables, curing me of a tilt issue I never thought would go away, and as a result we became good friends. So much so that he asked if I would edit his first book on the poker mental game. I was so fascinated by the subject after he had given me a glimpse into what he does that not only did I jump at the chance, I got so involved I ended up help him write it from start to finish.

I would like to point out at this juncture that although I may have had a small hand in helping Jared develop some of his theories, my own ability and insight as a poker player is NOWHERE to be seen in this book. Please do not be put off because my name is on the front, my role was merely to help Jared put his work across in a manner which the poker audience would understand. I essentially consider myself the exact sort of person who would buy this book, so it would seem I was the exact sort of person who could make sure poker players would get the message.

As a consumer I can tell you that there is nothing else like this book on the market. Most poker psychology books will simply say things like ‘don’t go on tilt’ or ‘play fearlessly’ without actually explaining how to do it and assuming the audience can just change mindset with the flick of a switch. Our book is all about understanding things like tilt, motivational issues, confidence and fear at the tables and how to not only resolve them, but to also use them to become a much better player. The tilt chapter alone is bigger than some books, all of which may sound hard going, but we have worked very hard condensing it in such a way that it’s easy to follow.

Which is why it took so long. The writing part of was no problem, the tough part was stopping. We had most of the words written down months ago and the last half of 2010 was mostly spent trimming things down and eliminating the stuff people didn’t really need to see.

Having a front row seat to the insight into the lifetime’s work of the top performance coach in the poker industry has been a dream, one which many would jump at. You would probably think that as a direct result it has helped my poker game to a level which most people could only dream of – not quite.

My game is light years better, of that I have no doubts, but it wasn’t exactly world class in the first place. The biggest impact this experience has had has been a big surprise. It has actually freed me from poker. I was one of those people who could not put poker down, when I wasn’t working I was playing, when I wasn’t playing I was talking or thinking about poker . Working with Jared has helped me realise that poker will be there tomorrow and had allowed me to have a long break from the game while we finished the book, which has also let me pursue other things.

It’s helped me concentrate on my work with PokerNews for a start, rather than you would think hinder it. I read more books now in a month than I would previously read in a year. I have lots of other hobbies now, when with poker I had 0. My relationships are better, my ability to learn has improved tenfold and I am my attention span, something I thought years of TV & poker had destroyed long ago, is significantly improved.  

Perhaps the biggest positive impact, however, came during the worst period of my life ever. My dear Father passed away towards the end of 2010 unexpectedly and although it is something you probably can never get over completely, the mental skills we advocate in the book are transferrable to anything in life and have really helped me come to terms with my grief.

So to describe this experience as a journey is a bit of an understatement. I first went into this project thinking it would be fun, help my game and hopefully make me a bit of money. As it’s reaching its end its looking like all those things have happened and so much more. I have a new attitude to the game, Jared has become my best friend in poker and I have learned so many new skills I can’t begin to list them. (I also joke that I have become the second biggest authority on the poker mental game by accident).

If we don’t sell a single copy it will still have been worth it for me (But please still buy a copy).

The book is called The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation Coping With Variance and More. (The Mental Game of Poker for short) I would like to remind you, that I my own poker skills are thankfully nowhere to be seen, hence my name rightly being much smaller on the front cover.

We still have lots of work to do, the book won’t be released until April. This week we are interviewing a bunch of Jared’s clients who will be putting their own experiences on his program into their own words into the back of the book, after that we have to do all the stuff you don’t even think about like footnotes, appendixes, inside sleeve design etc.

After that, well in fact, from this point on, comes to promotion of it. It’s funny, one of the other reasons I am so involved in the book is because I offer quite a lot in PR terms (I am pretty much a phone book for poker magazines, websites, journalists, affiliates and agents) yet I have been quite shy talking about the book up until this point. I think the reason for this is that I am very quick to let people know that this is not my book,  that my own poker ability is not the catalyst for all this insight – I have seen so many so called experts, authors and coaches get exposed as frauds in this industry I want to be really careful not to try and come across as anything other than the translator for a very talented man’s work.

The website for the book is not live yet, but it links to Jared’s own website for the moment, but bookmark www.mentalgamepoker.com if you want to know more. 

Thoughts on the New GUKPT Schedule

This week the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour announced their 2011 schedule, which featured a variety of new added value promotions, the removal of their end of year Champion of Champions event and most notably less legs of the tour. Last year the PokerStars UKIPT arrived on the scene and captured the attention of the UK market, no doubt leaving the GUKPT with a lot to think about, so how have they responded?

New Champion of Champions Tournaments
At first I didn’t like this, because I see the Champion of Champions event as a huge event on the UK calendar, but the last two years it hasn't quite lived up to that, it hasn't been as special as I made it in my head. So I don’t mind this now and could imagine there will be some value in the form of some of the bigger players might not even bother to play.

Wild card entries:
I love this idea, great extra value for those of us who have no chance of taking down a GUKPT event the proper way and will no doubt be very popular. The only criticism is that this innovation would have been way more exciting had the Champion of Champions event stuck to the original end of the year format.

Bumper GUKPT Leaderboard: 
Another reason for the pros to stick with the tour, there seemed to be much more interest in the leader board last year than the Champions event, so a natural progression in my opinion.

Shoal Survivor:
Finally. One of the major criticisms of the tour was that it didn’t capture the online qualifier market as well as they could have. You only had to look at the PokerStars UK & Ireland Poker Tour to see how important this is. There probably needs to be even more involvement with online qualifiers, but this is a step in the right direction.

Grosvenor Poker League & Sharky Giveaways:
Good to see £100,000 being on the table for the live poker regulars of the G Casinos and generally more of a shift to encourage live poker. The last few years the GUKPT main events have been incredibly tough and pro saturated, hopefully this will balance them a little and get more locals involved.

Less Legs:
Some people are pointing to this as a sign the tour is suffering at the hands of PokerStars and a saturated live poker market, I just think it makes sense. There are so many live events in the UK now, which is fantastic for the industry and players in general, and the GUKPT needed to reduce their schedule to make the events they do have special again.

All in all, the GUKPT seems to have had a major facelift and they are taking a risk by changing the format as much as they have, but it’s a necessary risk. Previously you could argue that the added value was very pro heavy, but this seems like a balanced mix of added value for professionals, live player and online qualifiers alike, which is exactly what they need to do if they want to try and reassert themselves as the poker tour in the UK.

PokerStars Home Games Vs Full Tilt Multi Entry Tournaments

It’s been a pretty big week for the landscape of online poker in my opinion, with both Stars and Tilt bringing out innovative new concepts, both of which we have pushed this week on PokerNews.

Full Tilt have brought out multi entry tournaments, where you can buy-in 4 times simultaneously to one tournament and effectively multi table it, ala some of the biggest cheating scandals in online poker. It’s all above board though, and when you get deep your players merge. It gives you a bigger shot at winning but a reduced ROI. It’s not a bad idea, they are doing it with a lot of their big tournaments and it will no doubt boost the prize pools no end.

Stars on the other hand have brought out Home Games. As the name suggests you can set up your own private clubs to play online cash games and tournaments, with an array of games and leader board standings. I set a tester one up last night  and although it was just standard NL cash like any other, it was fun. Being in a club seemed to make it much more sociable. I actually think long term there could be some really juicy, speakeasy type games going, invite only and all that.  

So which one is better? There’s only one way to find out…..

Not really, Stars come out of this the winner by miles in my opinion. The difference is the multi entry tournaments really only appeals to the high stakes pros and serious players, whereas Home Games is all about fun, which is the lifeblood of the recreational player. With so many 24 tabling short stacker regs these days we need a fun injection at the tables, and no doubt these nickel and dime recreational players will dip their toes in the big boys real money tables soon enough, so everyone’s a winner . Well done stars (In fairness they are both good ideas)

And well done me and Jared, we are about a day away from completing the book, more on that later. 

PokerNews Up for 2 IGB Awards

Ok, I wont even begin to claim I understand how big or small a deal this is, but PokerNews and PokerAffiliateWorld (part of the PokerNews family) are both up for awards at the IGB awards this month in London. I will be going down to hopefully watch our CEO pick up a gong, no idea whether we have a shot or not but I assume there is some free drink and entertainment. I have always fancied being at one of those big round booze filled tables you see at the comedy awards and I guess this is as close as that gets. I think a fight started at one of these things a few years ago so I will make sure I warm up my dukes just in case the guys at PokerListings get a bit shirty.

All the nominees here

10th Annual European Poker Awards Announced - Brits Dominate the Nominations

I'm a judge again at the European Poker Awards so I wont share my opinions really, but win lose or draw what a great year for the Brits, just think of all the players who were left out, namely the 5 Vegas bracelet winner for starters. The awards take place in Paris next month,  another chance for me to dust off the old suit and look like a big shot in front of the missus.  

Player of the Year: 

Theo Jorgensen (Denmark)
Jake Cody (England) 
Sam Trickett (England) 

Vladimir Schemelev (Russia)

Poker staff person of the year: 

Marty Wilson of Matchroom Sport (England) 
Simon Trumper, Dusk Till Dawn (England) 

Thomas Kremser, TK Events (Austria)
Gerard Serra Retamero ,TK Events (Spain)
Kirsty Thompson, president of the UKIPT ( England)

Internet Player of the Year: 

Chris Moorman (England) 
Patrik Antonius (Finland)
Mickey Petersen (Denmark)
Ilsidur (n/a)
Andreas Torbergsen (Norway)

Outstanding tournament performance: 

James Bord (England) 
Jake Cody (England) 

Fillipo Candio (Italy)
Liv Boeree (England) 
Tobias Rinkemeier (Germany)
David Vamplew (Scotland)

Europe’s Leading Lady: 

Liv Boeree (England) 
Annette Obrestadt (Norway)

Rookie of the Year: For the most promising newcomer. 

Jake Cody (England) 
David Vamplew (Scotland) 
Toby Lewis (England) 

Julian Herold (Germany)
Fernando Brito (Portugal)

*Lifetime achievement award:

* The Lifetime Achievement Award is decided entirely by the votes of the nomination panel and will be announced at the presentation ceremony in Paris.

Rob Gardner Memorial Award for the Poker Personality of 2010:

Jesse May (Denmark/USA)
Tony Guoga (Lithuania)
Anthony Holden (England)
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