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Old 10-28-2011, 10:42 AM   #1
negtv capability
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1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

If you sought professional counseling with the expressed intent to better control tilt for poker, and your therapist's focus happened to be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you would have been exposed to much of the following:

CBT argues that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations and events. It's our interpretations of a happening, our reactions to an event that make us angry, happy or sad, not the event itself.

Negative thoughts lead to emotional reactions.
Spoiler:

So, let's say you get angry when someone sucks out on you. You’re actually angry, because you think to yourself, "That's b.s. [unfair]; I should have won that pot." It's not the turn or river card that made u angry; it's the thought itself, "That's b.s.," that actually triggered your anger.

Before you can feel anger, you must necessarily make the interpretation you’re entitled to get what you want in this situation. It's an illusion of absolute fairness. Anger is directed at nothing, at justice, which doesn't exist.

What if instead you thought something more positive like, "He hit his flush...well it does happen 1 in 5 times." That's a neutral, matter of fact statement. You saw and interpreted the happening for what it was, without attaching distortions to the event, without thinking that the event was unfair. You’re much more likely in this case to move on to the next hand.

You can train yourself to think more rational. You can also train yourself to identify negative thoughts when they pop to the forefront of your mind. In doing so, you can choose to 1) ignore them or 2) dispute their validity. You are not your automatic thoughts, you can choose to relate or not relate to thoughts in a variety of ways.

People get mad when they don't get their way. Perhaps all anger boils down to this, unmet expectations.

Poker players generally expect one thing when they sit down to play, that is, to WIN!!! They expect to win every session, every day, every week, etc. This thinking is obviously irrational. This is not the nature of poker.

EXPECT CRAZINESS!!!
Spoiler:

This is my mantra in regards to online no-limit hold ‘em.

I like to remind myself of this before every session and have it written on a 3x5 notecard. You just can't predict how a session will go. Every session is different.

A couple things you can control are 1) your decision making and 2) your emotions. Don't expect to control other players; you might influence their play, but they're going to do plenty of things you don't want. Also, don't expect to 1) make perfect decisions, because this is impossible and don't expect to 2) never get upset, because this is also impossible. You CAN make playing well your #1 priority.

I won’t go into detail in regards to variance here. If you’ve played much online, you know that losing four buy-ins in twenty minutes can easily happen and it not be your fault. What your reaction is to such an occurrence is what’s important. Quitting is perfectly acceptable and probably recommended for 90%+ of players. However, I contend that it’s possible for nearly all to develop a capability/skill that allows them to maintain the proper mindset/perspective to carry-on even in the face of such adversity.

You CAN learn to let anger pass and refocus.
Spoiler:

I’ve done it myself. I repeat phrases in my head like, “relax…take it easy,” as I breathe deep and slowly in and out. I refocus myself on the present in an attempt to let the past go. If that fails after a minute or so, I click “sit out” on all tables and take a break until I’m over it.

There might be countless happenings that instigate tilt during a session. Some that have worked regularly on me are: my own bad decisions, opponents who min check-raise my cbets, room temperature, neck/shoulder pain, noise distractions. People react differently to various happenings. Some of you might be surprised to see environmental concerns listed here. I struggle to maintain composure if I notice myself sweating, even a little, while playing. However, I’ve seen soooooo many players tilt after getting sucked out on by a fish, and I just can’t understand why. If I lose a hand to a fishy/whale type, say a 50/5, I almost never tilt. I like to keep them happy and almost always will “sincerely” congratulate them. I love fish and get along happily with them.

It’s important to identify exactly what regularly spurs your automatic negative thoughts, but more important is to clearly identify these thoughts, because they are the root cause of your tilt.

Your automatic negative thoughts will fall into categories of cognitive distortions. There are several cognitive distortions I've found directly applicable to poker:

1) Should/must statements- ex. “I was f’in robbed in that hand” (thinking you should have won)

2) Labeling- ex. “This sucks” (you label the hand, session or online poker altogether as something bad)

3) All or nothing thinking- ex. “I’m terrible” (you make a couple bad decisions in a session and hereby discount all the good decisions you’ve made over your career)

4) Overgeneralization- ex. “Of course, he raises my cbet” (you act as if your cbet gets raised “all the time”)

5) Mental Filter- ex. “I’m playing like sh*t” (perhaps you made one bad decision, and so you focus solely on that decision, filtering out the many others that were solid)

6) Magnification/minimization- ex. “This guy owns my soul” (you magnify your fear and minimize your strengths)

7) Emotional reasoning- ex. “I don’t feel like playing” (how can you really know until you start playing, often motivation follows action, it’s just an emotion that we can overcome)

I used to write out these negative thoughts while I played. I was astounded at how often they crept into my thought process. I filled an entire notebook within a month. For me, should/ must statements and labeling were ever-present.

After a session, I’d go over the thoughts and write out a rational response to each.

So, in response to “This sucks,” I would write something like, “Actually, online poker has been very good to me. It’s allowed me much more freedom than another job would.”

That’s the basic process. The more you can identify your negative automatic thoughts, seeing them as distortions, and then either 1) ignore them or 2) rationally reply to them, the better equipped you will be to move on to the next hand and thus tilt less.

Meditation helps tremendously.
Spoiler:

In meditation, recognize a thought when it arises, register its content and determine the strength of its hold and accuracy, then come back to breathing, in order to strengthen mindfulness.

Some other things to keep in mind that may help:

- Evaluate your work based on the process, not the product. In other words, try not to be results oriented. In five years, the time you put in studying, hand reviewing and playing this month will matter more than the money you made through poker this month. That is, unless you’re not playing poker any longer in five years.

- Treat yourself as you would a loved one; respect self even in failure. In order to move on to the next hand, you must be capable of forgiving mistakes. If u goof up: recognition, learning, change. Yes, but in order to learn from your mistake, you must also be able to forgive yourself of that mistake and let go, not beat yourself up over it.

- People act "fairly" according to their own set of standards and frame of reference, which differs from yours. This is a good thing in poker. Do you really want everyone to play the same as you? I know I don’t; that'd be a tough table to crack. When someone acts “out of line” or does something that “makes no sense,” take a note and drive on. Don’t let it upset you. You get information from it; it’s a good thing.

- You can bear the "unbearable" and tolerate temporary discomfort. When you look at the big picture, war, famine, homelessness, etc., your life as a poker player isn’t so bad. The stuff that makes you tilt is petty. You can work through this temporary emotional reaction.

* two books I used heavily in my CBT approach towards tilt were “Feeling Good” by Burns and “Full Catastrophe Living” by Kabat-Zinn
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:52 AM   #2
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

[ ] 1000th post.
[x] Good post

Definitely tl;dr, but since I'm struggling with this topic atm. I will check it out later today & read it in whole. Since it looks very informative
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Old 10-29-2011, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

First let me say that this was a great pleasure to read, and that I fully agree CBT is the way to master your tilt.

While I have had some spewy tilt this year, reading Cognitive Behavior for Dummies last year accomplished in a couple weeks what Jungian therapy (based on Carl Jung's books) couldn't do in 6 months. The fact is, the stuff works. The therapist I saw basically saw gambling as the problem and not the fact that I get upset. "emotions are okay" she would say. And I'd say, "yeah, but me getting upset when I lose sometimes and not other times doesn't make sense." She concluded by thinking that I wanted to control my emotions and become a robot.

Obviously that isn't the case. Anyways, I picked up CBT for Dummies, and in the first chapter they had me sold. They refer to "normalizing" emotions. Ie, gauging the appropriate response to each situation.

I'd like to just add to the labeling part, and say having labels isn't as important as what those labels represent. When we say, "what a silly donk" it's a label, but it is much less harmful than "what a stupid donk" or "that donk tried to suck out on purpose".

Thank you for your post, I will be buying both of those books today. Definitely

+1
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:42 PM   #4
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Nice post, ty.
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Old 10-29-2011, 04:31 PM   #5
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by superjeff24 View Post
First let me say that this was a great pleasure to read, and that I fully agree CBT is the way to master your tilt.

While I have had some spewy tilt this year, reading Cognitive Behavior for Dummies last year accomplished in a couple weeks what Jungian therapy (based on Carl Jung's books) couldn't do in 6 months. The fact is, the stuff works. The therapist I saw basically saw gambling as the problem and not the fact that I get upset. "emotions are okay" she would say. And I'd say, "yeah, but me getting upset when I lose sometimes and not other times doesn't make sense." She concluded by thinking that I wanted to control my emotions and become a robot.

Obviously that isn't the case. Anyways, I picked up CBT for Dummies, and in the first chapter they had me sold. They refer to "normalizing" emotions. Ie, gauging the appropriate response to each situation.

I'd like to just add to the labeling part, and say having labels isn't as important as what those labels represent. When we say, "what a silly donk" it's a label, but it is much less harmful than "what a stupid donk" or "that donk tried to suck out on purpose".

Thank you for your post, I will be buying both of those books today. Definitely

+1
Perfect.
Those two books have changed the way I view life and helped me far better understand the process by which I feel emotion.

I think I was lucky, in that, my therapist was accepting of poker as my main source of income. She treated it very matter of fact, as if it were just another job.
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:50 PM   #6
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

1st time visiting this forum in firever. But very glad I did it at an opportune time.

Very nice post imo.
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Old 10-30-2011, 02:05 AM   #7
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Solid post, thanks.
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:53 PM   #8
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

well written 1k post.
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:24 PM   #9
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Solid
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:44 PM   #10
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

very true. very practical. well done. A+
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:50 PM   #11
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Nice
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:41 AM   #12
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

I'm going to buy that 'For Dummies' book. VN post, OP.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:26 AM   #13
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

great post op, cheers.

does anyone have direct experience with using CBT to tackle procrastination issues? I'm pretty desperate right now.
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:30 AM   #14
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Well said OP.
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:25 PM   #15
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

nice post
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:57 PM   #16
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by salut View Post
great post op, cheers.

does anyone have direct experience with using CBT to tackle procrastination issues? I'm pretty desperate right now.
I'm about 400ish pages into Feeling Good, and it's a great read. The CBT for Dummies book was my first read on the subject, and it definitely helped me turn things around for the better. It works fairly quickly though, you just have to do the exercises in the books.

GL
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:25 PM   #17
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Great post. Perfect timing as I went to the psych forum to get help for my propensity tol tilt. Thank you
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:26 AM   #18
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

words are bull**** and have nothing to do with poker language whatsoever, remove all of them, not just the negative ones. Words are only used to define and communicate, when playing, words are your enemy as they derive from ego. I mean, you are talking to yourself instead of playing poker, that is wrong. Beneficial maybe, if done right, but that is only relative to how you was doing it before and dependent on doing it wrong in the first place.

Weak people think - thoughts, weak people also have a need to think + thoughts. Removing all need is perfection. What happens happens.
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:43 PM   #19
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

idk some words are important in poker. For example

POT
MUCK
CHIP (like cow chip)

WE ARE PLAYING WITH OUR EXCREMENT DUCY
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Old 11-24-2011, 08:57 PM   #20
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

words are 'important' like numbers are 'important'... but when there is infinte of everything even numbers are illusionary.
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:04 PM   #21
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Re: 1000th Post: A CBT approach to tilt

Yeah I was just doing a bit of Freudian meta-trolling for no particular reason. I actually like your posts FishNoob, though it takes me three reads to stop laughing and figure out what the hell it is you're saying. Fair point that stuff like CBT has one making one's thoughts prosaic which is somewhat counter-productive to the idea of 'flow'/'zone' etc.
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