You don’t really understand something until you can explain it to your Grandmother - Albert Einstein
I christened my poker playing mate Terry Welsh - The Run. This is not because of his ability to run the 800m faster than Steve Cram. In fact I doubt he could even manage a 20-yard sprint without his lungs capitulating. No, the legendary Terry Welsh is called The Run because of his amazing capability of always hitting the straight.
“What have you got Terry?”
“The run.” He would say nonchalantly.
Bobby Eggs always has a King in his hand and plays it as though he has the nuts even if it is K2o. Tony “The Raincloud of Doom” Thorne always plays any card with a Queen in his hand. Eddie the Ace always has an Ace. Gary “The Sleeper” Acreman only wakes up to play one hand in a hundred. Steve “The Rock” John did not get his nickname because he is a Geologist?
Armed with all of this knowledge you may think any normal poker player would be able to adapt? Well welcome to the mind of Lee Davy. But before you step in I must warn you that there is a violent war going on inside this mind. A war between Rational Mind and Emotional Mind and right now Emotional Mind has just kicked Rational Mind in the nuts and he has just dropped his guts all over the floor!
In an effort to help poor old Rational Mind out and bring some sanity into my life at the same time, I sought out the help of the Poker World's current big thing Jared Tendler. After all he has been responsible for improving the game of the legendary Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt. Jared Tendler is the mental game coach for over 160 poker players from 21 different countries. I was interested to learn what Jared could possibly be doing to improve the win rate of these players. The testimonials were excellent so I decided to give him a call to see if he could find the time to help me improve my game and he agreed.
The work starts before we even talk when I am sent a questionnaire by e-mail. There are 32 questions in total. I imagine it was an important step for Jared. Creating a profile of his latest client - after all there are a bloody lot of them! Questionnaires are a chore but this one was different. It got you thinking about your game straight away. I enjoyed completing it.
We hooked up via Skype. We both recorded the conversation and this is very important. There is no way that you can remember all the important things that Jared tells you. Recording the conversation allows you to listen to it over and over again. To ensure it sticks. He immediately comes across as a very good speaker. Later as I was typing up the transcript of our conversation all of his sentences made sense and were to the point where mine were all over the place. He thinks before speaking and doesn’t waste one drop of energy in the process. You can tell right away that he knows what he is talking about.
So what did I learn?
In this first session Jared gets to know you a little bit better. After all this is probably the first discussion he will have with his client. The main principle behind session one was for him to explain to me the theory behind the processes in the brain that are essential to learning. This was an important discussion. I had been playing poker regularly for over 18 months and was still a losing player. I had watched training videos, read poker books and played countless hours of poker and I couldn’t understand why I was still losing.
Jared got me to understand that the movement of learning was fluid. You had to keep pace with it. He took me through the adult learning model and explained the four different stages of that process. I will very, very briefly explain them below.
You are playing poker and are completely unaware how bad you really are!
You have just become aware that you are crap at playing poker!
You now have the ability to be good at poker. You know where you suck and what to do about it.
You are Phil Ivey! Everything comes natural to you. You are not even aware that you are thinking, you are just doing!
Jared taught me to see that I am somewhere in the consciously incompetent stage - that I am lost and haven’t got any directions. Jared helped me understand that I have a flaw in my learning style. Once I have become aware of something I believe I own it. I have solved the problem instantaneously. I view awareness of a problem as the primary solution.
I think it - I am it!
Jared also got me to understand how important small detail is. I am looking for big changes and they are not happening because changes in poker happen after an accumulation of a shit load of small stuff. He made me understand that I need to be aware of the massive amount of small detail in poker. Only by being aware of this will I be able to track my progress - to look back and see how far I have managed to come.
You are eager to win the lottery of your own life.
Jared also helped me to see that I was desperate. I was desperate for validation. I knew that I had some ability and potential. But I was desperate to turn that potential into something real and tangible.
This is not easy - it is not 2+2. If it were I would have all the answers by now. Jared taught me to see that ease is only relative to the person. To me this was very difficult.
This framework was very important. It brings some structure to the session and allows you to understand what steps you need to take in order to improve. After all I had stopped learning. I was aware that I was crap at poker and therefore in my mind that was enough - problem solved! It is only by going through these processes with someone like Jared that you really start to see the wood from the trees.
I now have to navigate my way from Conscious Incompetence, into the choppy waters of Conscious Competence and then finally land in Unconscious Competence. Unfortunately, for me I only have four sessions with Jared to try and squeeze the maximum value out of him that I possibly can. I am afraid I will only get to see the tip of the iceberg.
After the session I listened to the recording. I then transcribed our conversation and took out the important parts and wrote them down on a separate piece of paper. This was an important process. You start to become more aware that you are aware that you are crap. Tongue tied yet? He has made me feel calmer within myself. I have nothing to worry about anymore and I have Jared to thank for that. Previously I was worried because I didn’t understand what the hell was going on. It seems so obvious now but believe me it wasn’t at the time.
The other good thing about Jared is he is in no hurry to get anywhere fast. His biggest challenge with me is to slow me down. I am after all a premature master! He brings you back down to earth with his professional tone but he also has a wonderful humour and warmth about him. The session whizzed by and I cannot wait for the next one to begin.
Premature master? He must have read my wife’s mind. She has always said that I am premature. She says I suffer from Video Syndrome.
Slam it in!
Jared Tendler is the mental game coach for over 160 poker player from 21 countries. To find out more about him or his upcoming book visit www.jaredtendlerpoker.com.