The Mental Game of Poker

The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler and Barry Carter
The Mental Game of Poker
by Jared Tendler and Barry Carter

A Review by Lee Davy

I am a voracious reader and sometimes I read a book and it literally changes my life. I think and talk about nothing else for months. I develop an eagerness to implement all of the learning immediately. I start to believe that I have mastered all of that knowledge simply because I have just read it. I have just finished reading another book and it is called, The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler and Barry Carter, and I am getting that familiar feeling again.

One of the first books I read that changed my life was called The Machine That Changed the World by Womack and Jones. It was a study of the car manufacturing processes used by Toyota to elevate them to world leaders in their field. At the time I was working in the rail industry and quickly set about changing all of my flawed business processes (much to the chagrin of my sceptical Managing Director). Many see that book as the leader in its field.

As I sit on my seat in a train, being buffeted from side to side, writing this review; the Mental Game of Poker is being put on sale. Just like The Machine That Changed The World it will be an instant market leader. Why can I say this with such authority? I can say this because there is nothing like this in existence. Nothing. The lad’s from New York and Essex have filled a niche that people didn’t even know was lying there waiting to be filled.

When I first started working in the poker industry I instantly knew Jared Tendler was special. I sought him out and persuaded him to take me under his wing and show me a glimpse of the service that he offers his clients. When you start working with him he immediately starts sniffing around you.

“Is that dog….is that cat… no I got it…its bullshit!”

The man is a walking bullshit detector. He is a highly emotionally intelligent human being who knows how people tick. He can sense bullshit rising from your gut as it rides through your throat and stamps on it before it has even filled the roof of your mouth. After a few sessions with him you find yourself realising you are talking shit before you have even finished your sentence.

To become great in this great game you need honesty – place the bullshit in the bin. You need to honestly assess every aspect of your ability both technically and mentally. When you work with Jared he creates a forum where you simply exude honesty. Then he incorporates all of his years of learning to help you get to the root of your problems. In the afore-mentioned book The Machine That Changed The World Womack and Jones talk about the techniques Toyota used to continually eliminate mistakes in order to create more value for their customers. The Japanese knew that they needed to understand the root cause of problems in order to eliminate them for good. Removing symptoms was a flawed process that quickly found its way into the rubbish bin. Jared knows this and in his book and through his personal teachings root cause analysis is the springboard where all of his other tips and techniques launch themselves into your psyche. Just like Toyota Jared knows the difference between symptoms and root cause.

When explaining one of the techniques Jared uses in his book, the Adult Learning Model (ALM), Jared answers the question that is regularly thrown at him.

“How can you teach me to improve in the game of poker if you are a fish in the game yourself?”

Jared uses the analogy of a Formula 1 racing team. The car comes into the pit for a reason. It needs to be in tiptop condition to maximise the driver’s chances of winning the race. The mechanics responsible for ensuring that happens may not necessarily be the best drivers in the world. They are not selected for that purpose and instead they are selected to make sure the Driver has the best chance of winning the race. Jared is like a Formula 1 mechanic and he has the tools to repair your mental nuts and bolts.

He has a long list of clientele cueing up to pay for his services. Proof enough of the talent of the man. Throughout the book are little interludes where his clients have explained why they sought out his services; and what he did to help them become better at handling their emotions. These little excerpts break the book up nicely and you find yourself looking forward to reading the next one as soon as you have finished the last. They were that good I would have bought a book filled with them alone.

During his description of another technique he uses called, The Inchworm Process, he explains the importance of working on the back end of your range. The back end of your range is your worst play. In order to improve your worst play you need to know what it looks like. This involves hard work on your part. Don’t be fooled. You will pay Jared Tendler for his coaching services and for this book; but it will be you who does the hard work. Remember you are in the hot seat and he is just maximising your chances of winning the race.

It doesn’t matter how technically talented you are if you lose ten buy-ins, lose control and spew another 20 buy-ins due to your emotions. I travel the world on the World Poker Tour (WPT) and European Poker Tour (EPT) circuits. I spend a lot of time with the world’s greatest players. Most players that I interview or spend time with on the circuit all tell me that they lose the majority of their money through loss of emotional control. They don’t talk about the money they lose when they miss value on the river or from being a calling station. It is the money they lose when they are outside of themselves and the demons have moved in. So how priceless does this book become?

Until recently I don’t think a lot of people actually thought that it was possible to teach someone to improve emotional control. I know after spending a short period of time with Jared that it is possible. The thing is he cannot be with you twenty-four hours per day. If you are going to become a better poker player then it ultimately rests with you. The book is the result of thousands of sessions with some of the worlds best poker players and their guts are splattered all over it. Jared has used these sessions to fine-tune his talent, through his individual coaching to produce a groundbreaking book.

There is a warning for you all though. The book is full of so many ways to help you improve your emotional control that they are literally spilling out from the pages. This is a lot of information to take in and you may not see the wood from the trees. I strongly suggest you use the book as a reference book instead of reading it from cover-to-cover. Taking notes whilst you read is an absolute necessity. Get an understanding of the inchworm process and select parts of the book that will make your best better and your worse a little bit less crappy. Without notes you may get a little bit lost in the forest of information that this great man has planted for you.

Beware! If you have personality traits like mine you may well read this book and think you know it all. The book is certainly powerful enough to make you start thinking you have already solved all of your tilt issues. Jared points this potential flaw out several times throughout the book. Improvement takes time so don’t get too carried away. Just take action and move forward one step at a time.

So get down to your local charity shop and hand them all of your poker books today. You no longer need them. As of right now they are chocked full of outdated processes and principles that no longer apply in the modern game. Get online and order The Mental Game of Poker now. If you don’t then I have one more piece of advice for you. Go to and sign up for his coaching programme because you obviously have a mental problem!