For One Night Only - Mental Game Coacing from Barry Carter

I got an interesting email this week from someone interested in The Mental Game of Poker. They actually asked if I would be interested in coaching them, much in the same way that Jared has coached hundreds of poker player’s one on one.

I was pretty flattered, but even though I know my writing buddy Jared can charge a pretty decent premium for what he does, I said no. Although I am more familiar with the material in The Mental Game of Poker than anyone but Jared himself, and have spent more than two years effectively shadowing him, I know enough to know I am still unqualified to coach someone.

Jared has a master’s degree in counselling psychology, a mental health counselling license, over 3600 hours of supervised counselling hours, and thousands more working with golfers and poker players. I on the other hand am some lucky donk who got to write a book with him, and I think it would be potentially be a bit of an insult to what he does to think I could do it so easily. There are actually a few of people who have set themselves up as mental game coaches who I think are equally unqualified as I am.

But Jared isn’t as cynical as I am, and he actually thought I should go for it, having a unique perspective of being from a poker background and working so closely with him. My official line is still no on that one, but we both did think it would be an interesting experiment to see just how well, or how poorly, I would get on if I tried my hand at mental game coaching.

So I am actually now going to take up the guy who contacted me on his request and try and help him with a tilt problem. I am not charging, it is just a one off, and Jared is going to listen in to both critique me and also rescue the poor sod if I start giving him terrible advice. It’s a win-win as far as I am concerned, either I look good and help the guy, or I look bad, Jared helps the guy, and I make it clear just how skilled he is at what he does.

It is actually going to be fun setting the line on when in the session Jared steps in because I am giving awful advice.

It could end up being a podcast type of deal like some of the other client sessions Jared has recorded, and will most likely happen next week.

Until then here is a cracking Cash Plays podcast with Jared from last week discussing Risk Aversion, where I get a mention too.

For Your Listening and Viewing Pleasure

Bit of a dump of interesting videos/podcasts here today.

First of all, this is a new news show from Sky Poker called the Rail. You may recall recently I wrote out a list of journalist bucket list things I wanted to do, well a month on and I've done several. I hit 1000 twitter followers, did a 'tweet update' from the Full Tilt Hearing, wrote for a newspaper (The Guernsey Press, lol, for the FTP hearing. Think I still wanna write for the Racing Post at some point). Then was number four, which is work behind the scenes of a TV production.

That would the Rail. Its a news show for Sky Poker, and I have been helping them out with some of the content, and will be appearing on it regularly. Here is the first episode and I actually really like it as a nice, concise, bit of informational TV:

The other thing I urge people to listen to this week is this Quadjacks Interview with Jared Tendler. It starts off as a discussion about the Girah cheating scandal, but the really interesting thing for me is the discussion of regulation that follows it. One of the main reasons I decided to work with Jared and knew our book would be of value, is because he is an outsider from a regulated industry (Both sports and psychology) looking in on poker, and his insight shows just how lacking regulation is from poker, and how much it is needed.


Finally, my god, what can I say about this? Kudos to anyone who makes it to the end, it is either the greatest joke in the history of man, or the most extreme mid life crisis of all time. This guy is a 55 year old casino executive (And the saddest thing is, the song has been stuck in my head for three days):

Not Looking Stupid in Front of a Girl

I had my first ‘dog rage’ incident last weekend. Like road rage, but between dog walkers, getting aggressive with each other over the behaviour of each other’s mutts. My dog Charlie is the most submissive dog I have ever known, and he went up to another dog and gave him a friendly sniff. Which prompted this tattooed thug of a man to scream ‘Get your fucking dog on a lead’.

To which I pretty angrily reacted with something along the lines of ‘No, we are walking our dog in a dog walking park’.

Anyway, the long and short of it was he was offended I had my dog off a lead, when his was on one, because he had (his words not mine) a ‘dangerous breed’. He didn’t, he had a Miniature Bull Terrier, which is quite a friendly breed. I was shocked he referred to it as dangerous and also pretty angry by this point, and struggled to mumble out the words ‘that’s never been a dangerous breed’.

I wanted to follow up with something along the lines of ‘there are no dangerous breeds, only bad owners’ but a mixture of anger, fear, and confusion meant I started to stutter my words. Obviously I have been rehearsing this very line ever since, and will be looking to deliver it at the first available opportunity. By this point he had had enough, screamed (really screamed btw) at me to get my fucking dog on a lead again, then stormed off.

I am not used to conflict, I am not particularly argumentative, so this was quite new ground for me. Normally I would do my best to diffuse a situation like this (Or leg it), but bad dog owners really annoy me (and I am pretty certain that is the spirit of my late father talking there, he got involved in dog rage incidents all the time, usually whenever he saw someone mistreating a dog). So I think I stood my ground adequately, I certainly wasn’t backing off from the guy and he looked like he could probably deck me. I was with my girlfriend at the time, and we walked away, having a little giggle about it, she seemed unphased by it all.

I recounted the story to a friend, and he asked me the question I have been asking myself since:

“Did you do enough to not look like a pussy in front of your girlfriend?”

That is the ultimate question. Situations like this are, in my opinion, a man’s worst nightmare. Had I been on my own, or with male friends, I think I could have lived with any outcome (fight or flight or cry or become his bitch), but to look like you wimped out in front of a girl is about as bad as it gets.

That may sound really shallow, but its human nature I think. No matter how level headed and sensitive a woman wants her man to be, they also deep down want, at the very least, to feel safe when they are with him. He is or could be the father of their children after all, there is nothing wrong with such a need. We know this too, and at the very minimum we want to appear as if we wouldn’t run away at the first sign of danger.

Did I do enough? I think I got away with it, I sounded angry in my tone, I stood in front of her so as to shield her, and he walked away first. But, I never really reprimanded him, I was rude at best, and I started to mumble and stutter instead of blurting out a killer retort. I’m glad it didn’t come to blows (It was a lot more aggressive than my blog may make it sound) because he probably would have won. I think I got lucky, but it could have been much worse, and it truly had the potential to be a nightmare scenario.

Take these two prime examples of how bad it could have got, one from the friend I was talking to, another from my own experience. The story my friend Jonesy told me was of two couples he knew in a pub, the guys were playing pool, the ladies were having a chat. A group of burly men came along, took the pool cues away from the guys, and straight up told them “we are playing now” and ordered the two couples to leave right away, which they all did.

She knew it shouldn’t have mattered, and they did the logical thing of avoiding violence, but one of the girls could not get head around the fact her man had been made to look such a wimp, and she left him a few weeks later. It’s horrible, but I understand her viewpoint (And feel for him, as I am not sure what I would have done in his shoes).

Likewise, when I was about 19, I was out one night with some friends, about three girls and one of the girl’s boyfriends, who was about 25. We were stood at a cash machine when four much older and hard looking blokes approached the girl with the boyfriend and loudly asked ‘Will you show me your cunt?’, much to the amusement of his friends. I stood there pretending nothing had happened, and unfortunately, so did her boyfriend.

When they left, she immediately tore into him ‘Thanks a lot for sticking up for me’.

The poor sod, had he not been emasculated enough by the guys, she promptly reminded him of it seconds later. What the hell was he supposed to do there? Had he pretty much said anything at all, he would have got the crap kicked out of him, and very possibly me too. This particular situation I sympathise with the girl much less, even though she has been done much more wrong, because she must have known this and was essentially saying ‘Thanks a lot for not getting beat up for me, and getting Barry a good kicking at the same time’.

Of course you have the third, probably worst of all situation, where the woman starts sticking up for herself and gets the guy beaten up (or he leaves her to it).

I think modern men essentially have two primal drives once they have after basic needs like food and shelter, drives which influence every other one after them: The pursuit of sex, and the avoidance of violence. Its situations like these that remind me that we often have to sacrifice one if we want the other. I’m not saying you have to get in fights to get a girlfriend, but if you try to avoid conflict too much in front of women you probably will struggle to get one.

The two drives do seem somewhat going in different directions, but a quick way to fuse the two is to call the drive ‘Not wanting to look stupid in front of a girl’. It’s amazing how powerful a drive that is, I am in a very happy committed relationship, but the thought of tripping over in front of any female still ranks as much worse than a surprising amount of bad things.

If poker has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes you have to pick the best of several bad options. If you are not a violent person like myself, these scenarios are never going to end well, but I think as long as they don’t kill or maim you, you can probably live with yourself more if you know you stood up for yourself and took a beating.

Whether I can actually do that in the moment if the situation arises again remains to be seen, but I will be doing my best to avoid that situation (while making it look like I am not trying too hard to avoid it) as much as possible until then (and will certainly be legging it if there are no women about).

There isn't an App for Common Sense

Anyone who knows me will be sick to death of me constantly saying ‘what an age we live in’ – but I think it is something that really needs saying. I believe we live in the greatest time ever at the moment, anyone can do anything. We can do more on a phone now than what we could do on a computer a decade ago, and every day technology is getting better and better.

I discussed this with a friend over the weekend; he is currently making a living doing something that pretty much did not exist even 5 years ago. In fact, to some extent he has created his own field, and carved a unique niche for himself. We both agreed that now is a time of tremendous opportunity, but in equal measure it is going to be a difficult time for a lot of people. The lost generation he called it, and basically anyone who doesn’t have an initiative.

The problem is that we have become so reliant on technology that it has removed a great deal of need for common sense. I’m as guilty as anyone in lots of regards here, I will sometimes have Sat Nav on for journeys I know like the back of my hand, and now and then if I happen to have a  calculator to hand I find myself using it for 3+4 type equations. I am also pretty useless when it comes to fixing things in the house or car.

Imagine what it’s like to be a kid growing up now, there is pretty much an app for everything, they can have their hand held for most of their life. Having the world literally at ones fingertips is surely something previous generations would have hoped would one day happen, but I wonder if this will be to the detriment to initiative and innovation?

My friend was telling me about how he recently saw several applicants for a job he was advertising. In one such interview, the applicant’s mother not only went to the interview, she answered all the questions on behalf of her son. She could have solved the mysteries of perpetual motion or cured cancer for me, the sheer attendance of this guy’s mother would still be an instant no for me (As would if anyone over the age of 18 turned up with one of those National Records of Achievement in their hand).

I don’t know which is worse, a son who asked his mother to go in the first place (or didn’t have the stones to say you are not coming) or a mother who thought it was a good idea. God help that lad when he starts chasing girls.

I get some similar stuff myself, though nowhere near as bad. Not a week goes by without someone I don’t know emailing me out of the blue asking ‘got any jobs going at PokerNews?’ without any examples of previous work, or suggestions for possible work they could do. I used to reply, but now just ignore. I might be being harsh (and it also doesn’t help my budget for commissioning work is close to zilch), but I had to put much more effort than that to get noticed when I was a fledgling poker writer, so I don’t see why I should spoon feed anyone work when there are so many talented writers out there struggling (That’s why I am pleased to see guys like Matthew Pitt and Lee Davy getting quite a bit of work these days, two chaps who make their own luck).

It is not difficult to start a blog just to get started in writing something, but a lot of these guys are asking me to commission the first thing they have written ever. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I don't think I would have ever applied for a job with literally no reasons to employ me in my covering letter. 

Probably the most depressing story I have heard was one from a friend who worked for the job centre a few years ago. She ended up essentially writing out the answers to an application form on behalf of a young girl who had no idea what to put. This girl went on to copy & paste those answers on every future application form she filled in - even though the questions were different. So a question about team work on a future application would get an answer about a time she helped a customer, a question about working in a high pressure environment would be answered with the girls hobbies and interests, and so on. 

This is indeed the greatest time to ever live, anything is possible (and most of which can be done with an iPhone).  But now is also a time when the playing field has been levelled like never before, so competition is fierce. I do worry that having endless opportunities like this is creating overly high expectations for a lot of people, while at the same time demotivating them to actually knuckle down to some real effort and initiative, because they are used to having apps do these things for them. 

Copyright © Barry Carter Poker