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Old 08-01-2017, 01:34 AM   #1
Mason Malmuth
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Bad Beat Therapy

Hi Everyone:

In this months [I]Two Plus Two Magazine[\I] we're starting a new series of articles called "Bad Beat Therapy: Better Poker and Life through Psychoanalysis" by Robert Samuels who has a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Paris, France. I've read the whole series and there's a lot of interesting stuff covered. The first article is located here:

https://www.twoplustwo.com/magazine/...at-therapy.php

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:05 AM   #2
Elrazor
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Interesting article, thanks.

A couple of interesting points of note.

Quote:
A player once told me that his family offered him $25,000 if he stopped playing poker for a year, but he only lasted three months.
External rewards are known to undermine intrinsic motivation, and are not effective as a tool for improving performance in the long run. As such, offering money in a situation such as this was always likely to fail. I think poker players have to be careful never to be too focussed on either money or outcomes - In my view, you have to really enjoy the poker at a basic level to be successful, to want to improve and understand the game, and money should just be the tool you use to implement your strategy. If your motivation from the outset for playing poker is to become rich or make a living, I expect it is very unlikely you will be successful, and tend to be the kind of player who is always seeking help with the mental side.

Quote:
In his book Painless Poker, Tommy Angelo offers many important practices to reduce tilt; however, there is a dark side to his type of meditation
Meditation is another practice that is frequently used in sport psychology, and I agree with the assessment that for someone who has deeper issues, it will just be a sticking plaster.
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:53 AM   #3
coon74
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Quote:
A player once told me that his family offered him $25,000 if he stopped playing poker for a year, but he only lasted three months.
On a side note, I'd be rather hesitant myself on whether to take that deal. In the rapidly toughening online poker economy, even a 1-year break might turn out the end of a career, and $35K would be the minimum amount that would allow me to support myself lifetime with passive income in a cheap country (even despite giving up poker as my only source of active income), instead of having to find a real job as a sociopath. And I guess that $25K is nowhere near life-changing in that player's home country.
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:39 PM   #4
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by coon74 View Post
On a side note, I'd be rather hesitant myself on whether to take that deal. In the rapidly toughening online poker economy, even a 1-year break might turn out the end of a career, and $35K would be the minimum amount that would allow me to support myself lifetime with passive income in a cheap country (even despite giving up poker as my only source of active income), instead of having to find a real job as a sociopath. And I guess that $25K is nowhere near life-changing in that player's home country.
Hi coon74:

Just speculation on my part. But if the player in question was doing well at poker, do you think his family would offer him significant money to quit playing?

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 08-02-2017, 08:43 AM   #5
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

My first thought is that it was some kind've trust-fund baby costing their parents $100,000+/yr.
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:13 PM   #6
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

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Originally Posted by leavesofliberty View Post
My first thought is that it was some kind've trust-fund baby costing their parents $100,000+/yr.
This is indeed likely, considering that the story has been told by a psychologist, and that the majority of poker players fail to beat the rake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Just speculation on my part. But if the player in question was doing well at poker, do you think his family would offer him significant money to quit playing?
I don't exclude such a possibility. In fact, the article got me worried about my own relatives potentially offering a similar deal (just a few times less money) to me if they learned that I'm still 'gambling'.

The thing is that it's hard (would take hours or days of education) to prove to non-poker people that I'm +EV just enough to pay the bills, especially to those who don't know the probability theory well, in a country where online gambling is frowned upon. Laypeople tend to overestimate the role of luck in poker results.

Besides, some of them see poker play as a dishonest occupation (as if I were robbing problem gamblers) or at least as an activity that doesn't contribute much to the society. It would make sense for the relatives to spend some money on converting me into 'an honest (conformist) man' even despite such conversion being -EV in the monetary sense. (They don't fully realize how difficult it would be for me to secure a well-paying job, for mental reasons that were present way before I started playing poker.)

Poker addiction is not necessarily bad, as we've discussed, but my real-life environment might find it bad even despite the modest profit that mediocre poker play brings (which is still better than being depressed and doing nothing).

Last edited by coon74; 08-02-2017 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:32 PM   #7
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

That was a pretty good article and I'm looking forward to the rest of them. It's also of great value that the author plays the game because, in my very strong opinion, mental game advice from someone who hasn't tried to play winning poker is nearly worthless. They just don't know how badly poker plays with the mind.

OTOH, 'there's no poker demon', or however he put it, is just HIS opinion, the poor deluded fool.
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Old 08-12-2017, 03:09 PM   #8
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

@coon74 have you read the why i don't tell people that i play poker thread? it is rock solid gold.

Think the guy in the article needs to meditate even more.

Nothing wrong with meditation it helps everyone.
Here is my bad beat therapy: Before i start playing i accept the fact that there are bad beats and that they are essential to the poker economy.

glgl
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Old 08-12-2017, 06:04 PM   #9
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARCANGEL0 View Post
@coon74 have you read the why i don't tell people that i play poker thread? it is rock solid gold.

Think the guy in the article needs to meditate even more.

Nothing wrong with meditation it helps everyone.
Here is my bad beat therapy: Before i start playing i accept the fact that there are bad beats and that they are essential to the poker economy.

glgl
Hi Arcangelo:

I think the point on meditation was that while meditation might make you feel better it does little to improve your poker game. For example, if there are errors in your basic strategy, those errors will still be there after you're done meditating.

As for your bad beat therapy, that should work fine as long as your mind understands that this is how the large short term luck factor in poker works and that the bad beats are expected over time. However, many players have much trouble in this area because their minds are unable to process the information presented to them in the form of bad beats, and in these cases I don't think your advice will work (for them). But once they improve their understanding of all things poker, then your advice becomes the way to go. (See my book Real Poker Psychology for more discussion.)

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 08-13-2017, 08:02 PM   #10
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

This is why I usually don't discourage players from talking about strategy at the table; it usually reveals a hole in their game. I may participate in discussion to encourage talk, but I refrain from providing anything meaningful.

If meditation allows you to feel unemotional in considering what just happened, it may help you prevent errors such as recency bias in assessing whether you need to make strategic adjustments. Samuels mentions the need to learn from one's emotions. Since this is the first in a series of articles, hopefully he will write about specific examples of lessons learned from emotions within the context of poker.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:04 PM   #11
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Beale View Post
That was a pretty good article and I'm looking forward to the rest of them. It's also of great value that the author plays the game because, in my very strong opinion, mental game advice from someone who hasn't tried to play winning poker is nearly worthless. They just don't know how badly poker plays with the mind.

OTOH, 'there's no poker demon', or however he put it, is just HIS opinion, the poor deluded fool.
I was an expert poker player after about a month of playing, like many of my friends. Then I played a couple of years, and yeah, I wouldn't even let beginner me near the felt, in retrospect. It's not like e.g. darts, where a beginner knows roughly where he's aiming at to become expert. Most poker beginners imo have little clue what good players are doing. So a mental game coach who has not extended substantially into expert play, but thinks they can tell anyone what they are thinking or how to prepare themselves for it, is either deluded, or a charlatan, or both.

ps I'm willing to accept $100 to give up poker for a year, PM for details.
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:13 AM   #12
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
Interesting article, thanks.
If your motivation from the outset for playing poker is to become rich or make a living, I expect it is very unlikely you will be successful, and tend to be the kind of player who is always seeking help with the mental side.
why? why is it different to any other business wanting to do the same?
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:35 AM   #13
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by jiijiis View Post
why? why is it different to any other business wanting to do the same?
How many people can you name who have become rich and/or successful at something they dislike doing?
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:00 AM   #14
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

I misunderstood your post my bad
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Old 08-30-2017, 06:31 PM   #15
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
How many people can you name who have become rich and/or successful at something they dislike doing?
Hi Elrazor:

This hits the nail right on the head.

An example. I consider all the goal setting nonsense from these mental coaches and advocated by people like Negreanu to be just that, nonsense. In the real world, what almost always happens is that successful people find something they like, begin to work hard at it, get good at it, and then seize opportunities as they come along, and also have the flexibility to change direction or to do things a little differently if and when it's appropriate to do so.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 08-31-2017, 02:04 AM   #16
Elrazor
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

I think that's true, with a caveat. You might love playing poker and have no problem playing enough hours a week to make a living. In this situation, setting goals on playing a certain amount of hands a week might actually undermine your enjoyment. For example, there is evidence that setting a goal of 10k steps a day can undermine your enjoyment of physical activity.

On the other hand, you might not enjoy or feel very competent at studying to become a better player. Goal setting might be useful here. If a player who was poor at math set a goal to take a simple math course and read about some gambling theory.

This is analogous to an athlete who loves their sport putting in a few boring gym sessions to improve their athletic performance. Setting goals here would be useful too, as it would help them to adhere to something they don't necessarily enjoy, but ultimately should have positive effects.

In relation to chrisshiherlis' post, knowledge like this is what would separate a good psychologist from one making it up. Anyone can read a few wikis on goal setting and then apply it to a client. However, unless you have wider knowledge of psychology, applying it in the wrong context may actually harm your client, and worse still, they are probably going to be oblivious to the potential detrimental effect.

Last edited by Elrazor; 08-31-2017 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 09-02-2017, 03:37 AM   #17
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Hi Everyone:

"Bad Beat Therapy, Part 2: Lying about Lying" is now up in our Sept. Magazine: https://www.twoplustwo.com/magazine/...bout-lying.php

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 09-02-2017, 05:54 AM   #18
Elrazor
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Another nice read. If there are two things that people consistently delude themselves they are good at, but are generally poor at, it's self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and that article taps in really well to the former.

The section relating to what I would call Attribution Theory is also very relevant to poker, and pretty much every other area of life. For example, students consistently pat themselves on the back when they receive a good grade, while poor grades are hand-waved away, with "harsh or bad marking" the predominant excuse.

This also relates quite well to luck egalitarianism. People can generally handle bad luck if they feel it had followed from their deliberate and informed choices. Conversely, people feel a sense of injustice if they perceive they had no control over an unlucky outcome.

Of course, good poker players know that even a bad river card is a direct result of fully informed and deliberate choices, and are therefore much more capable of dealing with this outcome. On the other hand, poor players consistently view bad river cards as something they have no control over, and that sense of injustice and unfairness will arguably manifest itself in tilt.

It is a lack of self-awareness that prevents people from realising that every decision they have made up until the dealer turned the river card over was based on fully-informed and deliberate choices.
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Old 10-01-2017, 04:17 PM   #19
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Bad Beat Therapy

Hi Everyone:

The third article in this series is now available in our October Magazine:

https://www.twoplustwo.com/magazine/...t-thinking.php

Best wishes,
Mason
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