I have always had an incredible talent for running up large sums of debt. I am the debt heavyweight champion of the world. I reckon if I had ended up working on Wall Street, Nick Leeson wouldn’t have been fit to iron my Armani shirt. A few years ago I read a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad by the author and entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki. He taught me that there are two types of debt - good debt and bad debt. Up to my eyeballs in financial ruin I decided to invest quite a considerable amount of money on some training for myself. I piled some good debt on top of the bad debt. I did this despite everyone around me thinking I was bonkers. Nobody had the foresight to see that the training costs - or more debt - were good debt. It was good debt because the education I was about to purchase was going to help me eliminate my bad debt.
I have just finished my last session with Poker Mental Game Coach, Jared Tendler, and right now I feel like a holiday romance has just ended. I know a good opportunity when I see one and I know I am going to have to spend some more money. Incur some good debt to help remove the bad. I need to continue to improve my education and Jared Tendler is very definitely the man to help me accomplish that.
In between session one and session three I had started to put together a series of winning sessions at the cash game tables. I thought that Jared was a magician and that he had solved my problems. As usual I took my foot off the pedal and started to free wheel in order to save some gas. Then between session three and session four I ran into a familiar feeling known as a downswing and I was right back to square one.
When we talked, Jared was happy that I had gone through a period of good winning sessions and experienced my over confidence again. He asked me to describe the experience as this feeling of over confidence was building itself up inside my mind?
“When I am playing I don’t feel like I am playing over confidently but I certainly feel like I am in the zone. I was telling some of my friends that I had undergone four consecutive winning sessions. This had not happened for a long time and it was not a coincidence. I told them that I felt like there was no big loss around the corner. I knew I am going to lose a flip or two for stacks but I couldn’t foresee my mistakes creeping back in and manifesting themselves in a negative way.” I told him.
“So what is the mindset, thought process or way of thinking that would allow you to believe that?” He asked.
You immediately want to lie because you realise what you have just said is nonsense. However, it is no use bull shitting at this point because he will sniff it out and it won’t do you any good anyway. One simple question and you already start to see light at the end of the tunnel. How could I predict the future? The concept was ridiculous.
“I am being premature again, aren’t I?” I said rhetorically.
“That is progress. The flaw that allowed you to think that there were no big losses around the corner was that you assumed you were a winning player and that you were fully in control of the negative aspects of your game.” Said Jared.
We had spent the three previous sessions uncovering as many issues as we could - just like the one I just described. Normally this process would take far longer and we would go much deeper had I been a long-term client. Our arrangement was a much shorter one so I only get a glimpse at the possibilities on offer. This last session was all about creating a plan to start to make small incremental improvements in my game. There were three main parts to this plan.
The pattern is the name for the triggers and tendencies that are associated with all of the problems that happen when I play poker. When I say that there is not a big loss around the corner. That would be a tendency and it is a sign or a statement that kick starts a particular flaw. Here are a list of some of my triggers and tendencies.
- Over confidence
- Under confidence
- Lack of concentration
- Taking things too personally
- Not knowing if I made the right decision or not
- Having a player sucking out on me in a big pot
- The desire to take chances and to gamble
- Look at me I am the best!
- The sense that it is easy
- Predicting the future
The Flaws to Correct
The flaws are the causes of the triggers and the tendencies. Here are some of my flaws.
- I have a superiority complex
- I personalise everything
- I have technical flaws
- I am not properly prepared for my session
- I make premature assumptions
- I am not prepared for or understanding variance
- I do not value my accomplishments/recognise them
- I wish that I didn’t have to struggle so much - wishing that it could be easy
- I feel shit about my mistakes
The Process of Improvement
When I recognise the pattern and identify the flaw this is where the action takes place.
What am I going to change in order to improve my game?
Jared has taught me to maintain a word document of my patterns and flaws. Schedule time prior to my playing period to review them so they are prevalent in your mind before you play. Then some time after your session has finished go through the list again and record how well I was able to recognise my triggers? How well was I able to correct them and continue to play well? How many of these triggers showed up before I knew my play had deteriorated? It is important not to let the time lapse too long between the end of the session and the review period. Detail is important and you will forget it if you leave a wide gap between sessions.
Knowing where you are in the process, preparing yourself, evaluating yourself, tracking progress and in the moment being able to make the improvements real - that is where the majority of the change happens.
I was never sceptical when Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt made the statement that Jared Tendler had made him millions but I was intrigued. After having the opportunity to work individually with Jared for a number of weeks I understand that it was not just Jared who made Dusty millions - it was Dusty who made Dusty millions.
It is the ability to play the game of poker and play it well that will make you the money. It is no good having all of this advice, new levels of awareness and tips and techniques for continual improvement if you cannot work hard and smart consistently. Dusty Schmidt is notorious for being a hard worker and considers his game his business. Therefore the Jared Tendler and Dusty Schmidt combination works perfectly.
My time with Jared has taught me that in order to be a successful and consistent winning player you need to do what Jared tells you to do each and every day. It is no good trying it out for the odd day or two and hoping that it will stick. We are talking about changing mindsets here. These things take a lot of time and a lot of hard work.
So what next?
Since I started my time with Jared Tendler I am now winning money instead of losing it. But I am aware that I could easily be losing it as well. Poker is like that. Losing money some of the time is inevitable and I just have to learn to prepare myself for that. I am equally aware that I am just beginning to increase my knowledge and have by no means mastered it. I have started working with Bluefire Poker Coach and former Jared Tendler student, Alan Jackson and will keep you updated on progress.
There will be two further review sessions planned with Jared sometime in January 2011.
First published in Poker Pro Europe magazine