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Old 05-02-2017, 01:07 AM   #1
Mason Malmuth
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Poker Mindset Book Reviews

Hi Everyone:

In the May issue of our Two Plus Two Online Poker Strategy Magazine I have written two reviews of poker mindset books:

http://www.twoplustwo.com/magazine/i...ok-reviews.php

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 05-02-2017, 03:09 AM   #2
Aces123123
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

Quote:
This alarm sets off the flight or fight response, which is helpful when you are in real danger.

It seems to me that if this was true, we would see plenty of fights in the poker room and this almost never happens. In addition, we would occasionally see someone grab their chips and run out of the poker room, and I’ve never seen that.
I will just point out that the flight and fight syndrome is a way that the body reacts.

It is usually not socially acceptable to punch the other player in the face, instead we release this energy by some clever remarrk to hint at the lack of intelligence of the other player and so on. Or just leaving the game, if we decide to flee instead. I am sure you have seen someone get up and leave a game after taking a bad beat.
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Old 05-02-2017, 03:17 AM   #3
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Aces123123 View Post
I will just point out that the flight and fight syndrome is a way that the body reacts.

It is usually not socially acceptable to punch the other player in the face, instead we release this energy by some clever remarrk to hint at the lack of intelligence of the other player and so on. Or just leaving the game, if we decide to flee instead. I am sure you have seen someone get up and leave a game after taking a bad beat.
Hi Aces123123:

Perhaps in most cases you're correct, but fights are extremely rare in poker rooms, and when I've seen one it's usually a drunk player having an issue with a floor person or manager. So it seems to me that if flight or fight was correct, my observations over many years would be different.

You need to understand that, in my opinion, tilt is something that the poker mental coaches need to attract clients. But they also need an explanation and this is what they've latched on to.

Also, blackjack professional virtually never tilt. Why is that? and what happened to flight or fight? Surely they're under many of the same pressures that poker players are.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 05-22-2017, 01:22 PM   #4
Moreconfusednow
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi Aces123123:

Perhaps in most cases you're correct, but fights are extremely rare in poker rooms, and when I've seen one it's usually a drunk player having an issue with a floor person or manager. So it seems to me that if flight or fight was correct, my observations over many years would be different.

You need to understand that, in my opinion, tilt is something that the poker mental coaches need to attract clients. But they also need an explanation and this is what they've latched on to.

Also, blackjack professional virtually never tilt. Why is that? and what happened to flight or fight? Surely they're under many of the same pressures that poker players are.

Best wishes,
Mason
Flight or Fight is better thought of as Flight, Fight, or Freeze. If you know fighting is a bad idea or just can't and you can't flee then the brain freezes. And by Freeze it means it changes the way your brain functions. In simple terms it affects your ability to make complex decisions.

So to say that because you haven't seen a lot of fights in poker rooms that the flight, fight, or freeze (or stress response) system is not activated is frankly just wrong.

Now I believe you probably don't get super stressed playing poker but the fact is I would say the majority of people do.

And I know the point has been made that if a player makes a mistake playing poker then they need better strategy coaching but this is simplistic.

There are times when a player knows the right play but can't access that part of the mind (prefrontal cortex) because they are too stressed. What some people believe is a strategy mistake is actually a mistake made(caused) by stress or the freeze response.

And with respect to blackjack, it just doesn't have as many complex decisions, in game at least, so one's play is much less affected by stress.

Now don't get me wrong i think most people would gain more from strategy coaching then "mental coaching" but to say that is not helpful in my opinion is just misinformed.

I highly recommend this book. It explains how trauma and stress affects the way the brain/mind thinks/works.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
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Old 05-24-2017, 01:27 AM   #5
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Moreconfusednow View Post
Flight or Fight is better thought of as Flight, Fight, or Freeze. If you know fighting is a bad idea or just can't and you can't flee then the brain freezes. And by Freeze it means it changes the way your brain functions. In simple terms it affects your ability to make complex decisions.
Okay. This sounds fine to me.

Quote:
So to say that because you haven't seen a lot of fights in poker rooms that the flight, fight, or freeze (or stress response) system is not activated is frankly just wrong.
But I'm not the one who talks about fight or flight or thinks that it's important. When reading the silly poker psychology literature, they need an explanation for tilt because tilt is big business for these people. And they're the ones who have come up with the fight or flight stuff (probably because they don't have any other way to explain it) and you're the first, that I know of, to have mentioned freeze. I'm only pointing out something that's obvious to me, and it you were to read my book Real Poker Psychology, you'll see that I say that tilt is a processing issue and I also present a mathematical model that supports this.

Quote:
Now I believe you probably don't get super stressed playing poker but the fact is I would say the majority of people do.
Okay, And I would say that many people, when playing poker, have trouble processing much of the information presented to them, especially when losing. Again, see my book for lots of discussion in this area.

Quote:
And I know the point has been made that if a player makes a mistake playing poker then they need better strategy coaching but this is simplistic.
No it's not. And again, this goes back to what people like Cardner, Little, and the others say. They point out that when you make a mistake it can upset you and you may start to feel "a little tilty" (if I remember the quote correctly). But I point out that if you knew a play was a mistake, why would you make it in the first place, and that finding errors in your strategy is sometihing that can require some work.

Quote:
There are times when a player knows the right play but can't access that part of the mind (prefrontal cortex) because they are too stressed. What some people believe is a strategy mistake is actually a mistake made(caused) by stress or the freeze response.
Okay. I think I say something similar in my book. What I say is that when a player can't process information that get's presented to him his mind can get locked up and he losses the ability to think rationally. And when this happens tilt can set in.

Quote:
And with respect to blackjack, it just doesn't have as many complex decisions, in game at least, so one's play is much less affected by stress.
No. Blackjack can be just as stressful due to the large short-term luck factor. But all professional blackjack players know exactly what the correct play is, so they don't tilt. Many poker players don't know the correct play which compounds the affect of the short term-luck factor (as well as the fact that probability theory can at times be very counterintuitive to many people).

Quote:
Now don't get me wrong i think most people would gain more from strategy coaching then "mental coaching" but to say that is not helpful in my opinion is just misinformed.
I suspect that you don't understand what I'm saying. I recently wrote a 250 page book on poker psychology. If I thought the topic was unimportant, why would I do that. What I do say is that, in my opinion, much of what is out there related to poker strategy is highly misguided, and this is stuff that many players pay a lot of money for.

My guess is that much of the stuff that the poker mental coaches espouse sounds good to many people. But once you begin to understand that most of it comes from the sports world and affects execution as opposed to knowledge, and that poker is mainly a knowledge game, you'll begin to understand that poker psychology doesn't work as most of these people claim.

Quote:
I highly recommend this book. It explains how trauma and stress affects the way the brain/mind thinks/works.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Now this may be a very good book. But from the title, it sounds like something that is informative relative to someone having a serious car accident or major surgery. I don't think that's much related to poker.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 05-24-2017, 11:56 AM   #6
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aces123123 View Post
I will just point out that the flight and fight syndrome is a way that the body reacts.

It is usually not socially acceptable to punch the other player in the face, instead we release this energy by some clever remarrk to hint at the lack of intelligence of the other player and so on. Or just leaving the game, if we decide to flee instead. I am sure you have seen someone get up and leave a game after taking a bad beat.
A key feature of the Fight or Flight response at its peak is that neural circuitry responsible for social cognition becomes inaccessible. This is why well-mannered educated husbands at times punch a nagging wife in the nose, and later speak of 'simply having lost it'.
I find a lot of the Mindset Literature laughable and a lot of the psychology terrible, but the domain is not common knowledge, so plenty of $$$ to be had from peddling bull**** to the blind.
Says a lot for Two plus Two that they see it and stand up to some of these guys, great service.
Not seen much bs from Cardner or Angelo, they seem alright to me mostly so far.
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Old 05-24-2017, 01:42 PM   #7
Moreconfusednow
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

Quote:
Okay. I think I say something similar in my book. What I say is that when a player can't process information that get's presented to him his mind can get locked up and he losses the ability to think rationally. And when this happens tilt can set in.


Isn't this just a question of not being able to regulate one's mind (emotions). The player gets frustrated by confusion which is just anger and a question of not being able to think calmly anymore.

Maybe call it confusion tilt.

If we see tilt as just the inability to regulate one's emotions (or the ability to not get dis-regulated) then to me it is pretty easy to see how learning breathing techniques, present focused awareness, self compassion and compassion to others, perspective etc could benefit players who are prone to tilt.

I enjoy the discussion even if there isn't always agreement.
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Old Yesterday, 09:47 AM   #8
Crumblepie
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
...



Now this may be a very good book. But from the title, it sounds like something that is informative relative to someone having a serious car accident or major surgery. I don't think that's much related to poker.

Best wishes,
Mason
Quote:
I highly recommend this book. It explains how trauma and stress affects the way the brain/mind thinks/works.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Considdering that trauma and stress as a concept is a lot wider than the classic car accident or surgery i'd think that the above quote (from Moreconfusednow) is related closer to poker than the 'flight, fight or freeze' concept.

Last edited by Crumblepie; Yesterday at 09:53 AM.
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Old Today, 09:58 AM   #9
MilkMan
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

The basic premise that execution/performance only applies to sports/physical activities is patently wrong. Given that "physical" expertise in many sports is in fact largely neural it is no surprise the ability to perform in competition (under pressure) varies by individual in much the same way a student's performance in academic exams does. The ability to access knowledge is not much different than the ability of a sportsperson to access their skill (although one is generally conscious and the other generally subconscous, stress chemicals don't discriminate).

Anecdotally I know so many poker players who can analyse a hand perfectly in the cold light of day but make mistake after mistake during their sessions. A good example on these very forums was MDMA, considered one of the most knowledgeable and cutting edge HSNL posters ~8-10 years ago, who reached a point where he barely played himself because of tilt. Lack of knowledge was not the issue.
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Old Today, 10:05 AM   #10
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

By the way I agree with Mason that the bulk of mental coaching for poker is flawed and ineffective. It's just that I think his book is also unlikely to help much unless it ships with a few vials of intravenous Neuropeptide Y.
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