"Take Risks: If you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Mental Game of Poker - Book Review

The Mental Game of Poker (TMGP)

I am not a good book reviewer so pardon me, but I felt a need to recommend this book to my friends and whomever (poker players or even traders) that are reading this blog. After picking up this book and going through to the 4th chapter, Jared Tendler has become my new hero.

Jared Tendler is not a poker player. He was a mental game coach for golf. Typically, this fact is enough to have most of us thinking "hey what does he know about poker to advise us?", even me. But I picked it up because after flipping and reading all those poker strategy books I have always been telling my girlfriend, "For the past 1.5 years in poker I am just losing 9 out of 10 days and reloading my bankroll!" It is that sad and its true, just click on my blog label: Poker and you will know my sad past. I pick it up because I have enough and I know there is something wrong underlying that is within me. I know positioning, playing range, pot-odds, calculate bet-sizes etc. than my friends but they are still winning players than me.

Jared Tendler (JT) has studied the game of poker and then coach top professionals, and after reading reviews I decided to give it a try.. in his book he wrote an excellent analogy: "A mechanic working on a race car doesn't need to be world-class driver to understand how to prepare a car to win. He needs to have a deep understanding of what the driver needs, the conditions the car will race in, and how the car works, and he must be able to diagnose and fix problems quickly."

You can get hardcopy or even eBook format in his official website. As I am living out of U.S. of course eBooks are good enough for me.

And enough of my stories lets get to the book. A typical "Conventional Poker Psychology" (what he calls it, such as deep breath, take breaks, meditation etc.) often helps to a point, which he regarded as short-term fixes, but not a long-term resolutions. In the TMGP he drills into the underlying problem of "Mental Game Fishes" and advise you. Even a solid winning poker player is a mental game fish if he has (a list of) thinking habits which are flawed.

The book covers 4 central areas of every poker player's mental game: Tilt, Fear, Motivation and Confidence. Before reading any new book, I suggest you approach it with an open-mind (not thinking that you-know-it-all).

The Adult Learning Model (ALM) which was mentioned is a theory of a process in which all of us learn. It breaks down into 4 levels of our learning model, which he uses throughout the book to explain to us some things which affect us at which level (for example, if you go on tilt your mind will shut down what you are learning in the Conscious Competence, and will only be left using skills from Unconscious Competence level).

Another powerful concept is the "Inchworm". It explains when poker players play their Best-game at times and trying to improve their best. But like an inchworm (it moves by stretching its body straight, anchors the front part, lifts up the back end, anchor the back part, then stretches its body straight to take a step forward) our game progresses like that. We need to fix our weakness (the back part), before we can move forward to learn our best (front part) to the next level. In short, improvement happens from two sides.

In between the chapters, there are also short sections on Client's Story. Where they tell stories about what they did in the past before approaching JT on their mental game. What they experienced in the past was something I can truly relate and its funny.

Here is one of the best chapter IMO, Emotions. Here in this chapter, JT breaks down technically how our emotions affect our thinking, that causes tilt. For example, it you hold A5 and flop the nut straight with 2-3-4. A fish all-in you and hit a runner-runner flush in the river. You may go "FUCKING IDIOTIC FISH DAMN!!"..... like I did. Your emotion has risen to a point which it basically malfunction your analytic mind (the higher brain functions such as thinking, planning, awareness etc). So if emotion is overactive, it shuts down the higher brain functions. That is one of the reason why tilt costs you more money.

To resolve, TMGP has advices on 'injecting logic', not only at the table (because that will be too late). You have to work on your brain muscle away from the table to fix this in the long-term. Strategies for this resolution are also covered intensively in the chapter on Strategy.

In the Tilt chapter, it also break down the common types of tilt poker players encounter and fixes. I can easily circle 5 out 7 tilts I am infected with.

In the Fear chapter, it explains player playing out of fear, like after losing sessions they may stop playing what is their usual profitable style, because they lost their trust due to fear (of beats or outdrawn etc). Sections such as Fear of Success and Fear of Mistakes are also covered.

The chapter on Motivation is also detailed on laziness, procrastination etc. which result in absence of learning and stop focusing on the process but only result every single time. What I can relate is Hopeless, when losing 9 out of 10 sessions is no joke. I even stop playing for a month at a point of time. These are covered, and to help it, the next chapter (which is a surprise to me) is to fix the problem of Hopeless.

Confidence. What I am surprise is that, even too much confidence can be harmful. Maybe because I never felt that way. Overconfidence leads to thinking you can play many hands and thinking you can beat the game for example you were simply running good and you began playing many too many hands which are out of your usual range. This chapter includes teaching you how to develop a stable confidence.

The Appendix includes a questionnaire that is supposed to help you identify and recognise your mental game problem.

I have not mastered the book obviously, but I am beginning to see progress in my game. Getting rivered by opponent who has only 1-3 outer in the past definitely tilt me to the point that I will lose more (spewing stacks), I never win after getting tilted in the past. Although it does not mean I definitely will win even if my mental game is good, but for the firstime I see myself getting beats and slowly grinding my way back.

Here are my progress for the past weeks.. it may not seem excellent to you, but it is a result good enough for me based on my past.

Cash Games.


One reason for my tourney is that I began moving down stakes to try and beat the game a bit to rebuild my confidence. I proceeded up after that and won a few. Yesterday me and my buddy played a 45 Home Game tourney league (past 3 games my chip never even reach $3,000), I cashed out 4th and he cashed out 3rd.

This may be a period of running good and I may experience bad runs but what is important is to learn to "inject" the logic of variance into our game. I am trying my best now and love to see my progress.

Conclusion? This book does not have any poker strategy in it. But before you need any strategy, you need to master yourself. If you have tilt problem (I believe all poker players do), it is good enough you get this book. After countless poker books on my shelf, I must say this is one of the best and highly recommended book!!



My post was fed into our twitter @blacknbottle and we got a Retweet from the author Jared Tendler @jaredtendler himself! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ride It Up & Stop-Hunt

Eur/Usd: +50 pips.

Gbp/Usd: +28 pips.

Usd/Chf: +17 pips.

Before the opening of Asian session, my trades were all green. But after the Aussie unemployments news were out, Aussie fell drastically and I supposed the sell-off (sell Aud and buy Usd) made all my positions into RED. But I held it there and I closed out all after my Eur/Usd hits the target.

Last week I still messed up, before the market closes for the weekend, my Aud/Usd got triggered and hit a very quick stop/loss. Woke up see my twitter and wow.. gift from god. Here is something that looks a little like "stop-hunting" to me. 50 pips gone !


Friday, January 13, 2012

Scraping Back A bit

Managed to scrape back to break-even for the month. This is it for the week.

Lucky escape here for Aud/Usd.

Frustrating exit on Eur/Aud. Wasted 20 over pips.

Same for Eur/Usd.

An impatient exit.

Decided to screenshot this from myfxbook.com, easier! 

Happy weekend!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Article on Tilt (Extracted Post)

Below is a very interesting article I came across browsing the net:

Link of original site: Freezeout Player http://www.freezeoutplayer.com/wht-tilt-is-your-enemy.html

To poker players (even traders) I think you've heard this over & over before but I think it still serves as a very good reminder for us because in the field of trading and poker (even athletes), mindset and psychological factor plays such an important role. I recommend reading because I think the concept also applies not only the poker players, but even to traders. Markets are so random (at times) and we should always factor in losses along the way, as long as we focus doing the 'right' thing, we will succeed over the long run!


"Overcoming Tilt and Your State of Mind.
Have you ever gone on tilt ? I don’t think there is a person I’ve talked to that hasn’t at one time or another. There are a number of things that may happen that make you go on tilt, and some even have to do with poker ! Let me explain.

I hate getting sucked out on. I hate hitting trips after a rainbow flop, I bet and there is a raise all in. I call and a weak player hits runner runner for a flush. I HATE it but it is something you just have to take because it happens from time to time. That’s poker and that’s what makes it such an interesting game to play. You can make all the correct plays and still lose!
What I try to do to combat going on tilt is train myself to think about the suck out and believe that I made a correct call and more often then not I will win given the same circumstances. That’s why there are percentages for any given hand to win. Even a hand that’s favored 90% of the time will lose 10% of the time. So you must hang on to that belief that you made the correct move and just got unlucky. Then you have to put it behind you and move on.

I know what your thinking, easier said than done.

You're right, it is, but you must find a way to do this otherwise you could lose a lot of money. When you do this you might even discover you made an incorrect play so you can change your thinking the next time a similar situation comes your way. You also have to look at your long term results and not just this one hand.
Thinking about your long term results will put this one suck out into perspective. If your long term results are not good then perhaps other areas of your game need some analysis. The point I am trying to make is that you have to be able to take an unlucky hand and move on.
Some other things that have nothing to do with poker can affect your game and even put you on tilt before the game has started. These factors you have direct control over and can eliminate so as to not affect your game. If you’ve had a fight with your wife/husband, if you’ve had a bad day at work, if you have a headache or are feeling under the weather you should not be looking to start playing a poker tournament online. These are just a few of the many non poker factors that can have an influence on how you play. I think to play consistently well over a period of time you have to play with what I call a good ‘poker mindset’ going in. I think this gives you a better opportunity to win.

Your state of mind is very important when sitting down to play a mtt.

As said above many things in the world around you can effect your mindset before playing a tournament. To me the trick is if those factors affect you too much perhaps a break from poker for that evening is in order. Maybe a longer brake is in order, only you know for sure. Something else I try to do is to sit in front of the computer 10 minutes before the tournament I signed up for starts and close my eyes and just think of how I’m going to start this tournament, what strategy will I use, making good decisions and so forth. Just get into a ‘poker’ mindset. Its like a little quiet time before the tournament gets going. This is the mental part of the game. Look at any sports stars. I’ve seen interview after interview where the athlete says “much of what I do is mental, if I believe I can win I’m half way there”.

Anything you can do to increase your chances of making good decisions at the poker table is worth while doing. Different players do different things to prepare for a tournament. Figure out what your ‘thing’ is and do it. Having a good poker mindset going into a tournament gives you a better opportunity to make those good decisions therefore increasing your chances to win. If you can come up with a good way to avoid going on tilt and eliminate outside distractions then you have achieved a good ‘poker state of mind’! "

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dollar Rallies I Rode & Missed

Planted a sell-stop in the Gbp/Usd and rode a +100 pips move (stop/loss set was 100 away too). Closed it out before previous low. Thanks to bullish USD on ADP Non-farm employment change, boosted the move.

Eur/Usd is the pair I felt I missed a great move too, probably because the euro's been bearish enough recently. Could have bagged a good 50 pips.

Will probably give NFP a miss tomorrow.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Start of the Year

Started the year with a loss on Eur/Usd. -54pips

Later yesterday I did a buy-stop and sell-stop, sell-stop got hit and it was moving down smoothly. While sell-stop was hit, I was on long in Usd/Chf below:

+47 pips each for both pairs.

While both Eur/Usd and Usd/Chf were moving in favour of the dollar, my Aud/Usd buy-limit hit. Afraid that the dollar would appreciate further, I closed it at +10 pips. Buy-stop of this pair was that I wanted to catch some movement while in its range.

Happy New Year.


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