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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
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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
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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.

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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

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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.
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
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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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 05-26-2017, 09:47 AM   #8
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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; 05-26-2017 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 05-27-2017, 09:58 AM   #9
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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 05-27-2017, 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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Old 05-28-2017, 09:26 AM   #11
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by MilkMan View Post
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.
Why do you think it is flawed?
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Old 05-30-2017, 02:31 AM   #12
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by MilkMan View Post
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).
I agree. There is a lot of literature supporting the view that performance on cognitive tasks declines when under stress.

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Originally Posted by MilkMan View Post
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).
Disagree - the ability to access knowledge is different to accessing a skill. Performing a skill, such as returning a serve, is one that cannot be performed consciously. The decision making process is so hard-wired that although it should not be possible to perform the skill, elite players can.

However, when they are under excessive stress then this hard-wired process breaks down, and instead of performing the skill without thinking, they are forced to perform it consciously. This is why a player who is choking can sometimes look like a rank amateur.

However for poker, the player has a much longer time to access their knowledge base, and the majority (if not all) of the decisions a poker player makes should be made consciously. The addition of known stressors such as social-evaluative threat and large prize money can obviously affect their decision making, but the process is still conscious.
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Old 05-30-2017, 03:56 AM   #13
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

A few comments on your article.

Quote:
To start this review, let’s first discuss an idea that appears early in the text. It’s “unconscious competence” which Tendler says on page 17:
Unconscious Competence is the Holy Grail of learning, and by far the most important concept in this book.
In my opinion, this is an incredibly silly statement
I agree, at least for the most part. I’m currently learning to salsa in a weekly class with my g/f. This is exactly where unconscious competence works. So, the transition between conscious competence and unconscious competence occurs when you are able to perform a salsa step without thinking about it. This frees up working memory to think about your next step.

I know where Tendler is coming from with this concept. When I’m multi-tabling, I often make decision in a fraction of a second. However, these decisions are based around basic strategic competence (e.g. folding 22 UTG), that a good player will still make consciously. So for example, let’s look at a more marginal decision. You are facing a pot sized bet holding a flush draw. Can this decision be made unconsciously? Obviously not. You have to consciously examine other factors which might influence your decision. Is there action behind you? If so, are they weak passive?? What is the profile of the bettor? What are the implied odds? Will he pay you off if you hit? Can you bluff him if a scare card hits? You can’t make any of these decisions unconsciously, and certainly not all of them. For sure, an experienced player may well be able to process the information in seconds, but it still requires you to engage in critical thinking. If you make this decision without thinking, you are almost certainly leaving money on the table.

Quote:
One of the problems here is that Tendler addresses many different types of tilt, and in my opinion, while these types can and are often problems for some players, many of them are not tilt at all.
Again, I agree, and I strongly disagree with the conceptualisation of tilt into several differing types; there is no empirical basis for this. Tilt in my view, is a much simpler process analogous to road rage. Would it really help our understanding of road rage to separate it into a dozen different concepts? Tailgate road rage? cutting up road rage? mistake road rage?
revenge road rage? Not really. I agree with Mason’s assessment here – people are not usually self-aware enough to realise they have made a mistake, however it's worth noting that people can over-estimate their ability at most things, and especially driving (90% of drivers rate themselves as “better than average”). Therefore, rectifying the problem of road rage would involve educating people about their driving, and to increase self-awareness. This would obviously be better undertaken with a driving instructor, not a psychologist. This is not to say a psychologist wouldn’t help, but it’s not addressing the core problem.

Quote:
In the “Self-Control as a Muscle” sub-chapter we’re told:
Poker is at its core, a self-control game
Really? To me poker is mainly a game of knowledge. Having good self-control but not understanding how to play well won’t get you very far. Isn’t this obvious?
Part of my doctoral thesis is based around the concept of self-control. While self-control is certainly a thing, in recent years the research that is discussed in your article; namely self-control as a muscle, increasing self-control and reducing the impact of self-control is hotly disputed in the scientific literature.

Recent research has argued that self-control does not rely on a limited resource, which renders much of what is written here about self-control and poker as atheoretical. In essence, what we have are a collection of essays, that although might make intuitive sense and help the reader to think a little about their lifestyle and how they might improve it, do not stand up to empirical scrutiny.

Quote:
Now I agree that poker does require some work. But since an instant response is not needed, for the majority of people, 500 hours should be plenty.
Finally, with regards to 10k hours, I agree this is probably is not applicable to poker. To be an elite tennis player, dancer or musician (professions that stand up reasonably well to the 10k hours concept), you have to be among the best in the world. To be a professional poker player, as the adage goes, you just have to be the best at the table. So someone who can beat PLO/NL10 for a decent clip can probably make a living if they put enough hours in, and to get to this standard certainly does not take 10k hours. In contrast, I spent 3 years learning the guitar before I gave up on my dream of becoming a rock star, and was still some distance off being to the required standard that someone would employ me as a musician!

Last edited by Elrazor; 05-30-2017 at 04:02 AM.
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Old 05-30-2017, 02:05 PM   #14
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
I agree. There is a lot of literature supporting the view that performance on cognitive tasks declines when under stress.



Disagree - the ability to access knowledge is different to accessing a skill. Performing a skill, such as returning a serve, is one that cannot be performed consciously. The decision making process is so hard-wired that although it should not be possible to perform the skill, elite players can.

However, when they are under excessive stress then this hard-wired process breaks down, and instead of performing the skill without thinking, they are forced to perform it consciously. This is why a player who is choking can sometimes look like a rank amateur.

However for poker, the player has a much longer time to access their knowledge base, and the majority (if not all) of the decisions a poker player makes should be made consciously. The addition of known stressors such as social-evaluative threat and large prize money can obviously affect their decision making, but the process is still conscious.

I think it is pretty well established that stress can effect Implicit decision making or in terms of poker making assumptions about what hands people are playing and how they will react to certain actions.

You might be able to consciously deliberate peoples ranges and reactions away from the table but other then maybe Haxton or Bill Chen I doubt most players can do so at the table without the aid of "intuition" which in my opinion can absolutely be affected by stress i.e. emotional disregulation.

Another area were people make mistakes in poker is in too much conscious deliberation.

I am sure people will disagree with this but I enjoy the discussion so troll away!
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Old 05-30-2017, 06:49 PM   #15
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
Finally, with regards to 10k hours, I agree this is probably is not applicable to poker. To be an elite tennis player, dancer or musician (professions that stand up reasonably well to the 10k hours concept), you have to be among the best in the world. To be a professional poker player, as the adage goes, you just have to be the best at the table.
I think you are meassuring two different things. Poker is probably the game that has the lowest barrier to entry for making a living at it. You just need to find a couple of players willing to play for high enough stakes that are worse than you.

But this is not playing at an elite level. Playing at an elite level is being one of the best in the world. That probably takes a lot of time. Playing online speeds up the process, since you see more hands. But I guess the variance iin poker slows down the process, since it is harder to get accurate feedback.
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Old 05-30-2017, 11:22 PM   #16
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
I agree. There is a lot of literature supporting the view that performance on cognitive tasks declines when under stress.
Hi Elrazor:

Just from my own experience I would agree with this. But I would also add that most of poker that gets played is relatively stress free.

Quote:
Disagree - the ability to access knowledge is different to accessing a skill. Performing a skill, such as returning a serve, is one that cannot be performed consciously. The decision making process is so hard-wired that although it should not be possible to perform the skill, elite players can.
I certainly agree with this. And just as an example, if you're a top tennis player and are trying to return an opponent's 120 mile per hour serve, you have about half a second from the instance that the ball leaves your opponent's racket until it hits yours.

Quote:
However, when they are under excessive stress then this hard-wired process breaks down, and instead of performing the skill without thinking, they are forced to perform it consciously. This is why a player who is choking can sometimes look like a rank amateur.
It's a well known fact that when many inexperienced players reach the point of life changing money in a major tournament, their games can break down. This would certainly be one reason for it. I also believe that being mentally tired, as opposed to physically tired, can be a contributor as well.

Quote:
However for poker, the player has a much longer time to access their knowledge base, and the majority (if not all) of the decisions a poker player makes should be made consciously. The addition of known stressors such as social-evaluative threat and large prize money can obviously affect their decision making, but the process is still conscious.
I agree completely. If in poker you had to make all decisions within let's say two seconds, then this would not be the case, but that's not poker.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 05-30-2017, 11:48 PM   #17
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
A few comments on your article.

Quote:
To start this review, let’s first discuss an idea that appears early in the text. It’s “unconscious competence” which Tendler says on page 17:
Unconscious Competence is the Holy Grail of learning, and by far the most important concept in this book.
In my opinion, this is an incredibly silly statement
I agree, at least for the most part. I’m currently learning to salsa in a weekly class with my g/f. This is exactly where unconscious competence works. So, the transition between conscious competence and unconscious competence occurs when you are able to perform a salsa step without thinking about it. This frees up working memory to think about your next step.
Hi Elrazor:

My wife likes lots of salsa on her food ... Sorry I couldn't resist.

Quote:
I know where Tendler is coming from with this concept. When I’m multi-tabling, I often make decision in a fraction of a second. However, these decisions are based around basic strategic competence (e.g. folding 22 UTG), that a good player will still make consciously.
I disagree. While everything you're saying is certainly correct, I believe that these poker psychology coaches, and this includes Tendler, who say stuff like this are getting it from the sports world. What they fail to understand is exactly the stuff you're talking about. Poker is not a game of speed, timing, and coordination where your reaction time needs to be very fast.

Quote:
So for example, let’s look at a more marginal decision. You are facing a pot sized bet holding a flush draw. Can this decision be made unconsciously? Obviously not. You have to consciously examine other factors which might influence your decision. Is there action behind you? If so, are they weak passive?? What is the profile of the bettor? What are the implied odds? Will he pay you off if you hit? Can you bluff him if a scare card hits? You can’t make any of these decisions unconsciously, and certainly not all of them. For sure, an experienced player may well be able to process the information in seconds, but it still requires you to engage in critical thinking. If you make this decision without thinking, you are almost certainly leaving money on the table.
I agree.

Quote:
Quote:
One of the problems here is that Tendler addresses many different types of tilt, and in my opinion, while these types can and are often problems for some players, many of them are not tilt at all.
Again, I agree, and I strongly disagree with the conceptualisation of tilt into several differing types; there is no empirical basis for this. Tilt in my view, is a much simpler process analogous to road rage. Would it really help our understanding of road rage to separate it into a dozen different concepts? Tailgate road rage? cutting up road rage? mistake road rage?
revenge road rage? Not really. I agree with Mason’s assessment here –
Obviously I agree. I think a lot of this nonsense comes from the fact that these psychology coaches are charging a lot of money for their time, and they have to have lots of things to talk about. So for instance talking about the seven types of tilt and the idea that you may suffer from one of those and not the others should take up a lot more time than just saying, "Yes, you were on tilt."

Quote:
people are not usually self-aware enough to realise they have made a mistake, however it's worth noting that people can over-estimate their ability at most things, and especially driving (90% of drivers rate themselves as “better than average”). Therefore, rectifying the problem of road rage would involve educating people about their driving, and to increase self-awareness. This would obviously be better undertaken with a driving instructor, not a psychologist. This is not to say a psychologist wouldn’t help, but it’s not addressing the core problem.
What's interesting is that in the poker psychology literature you frequently see this theme of getting upset which can lead to tilt because you have made a mistake at the poker table. But my contention is that very few players are even aware of their mistakes and it can take a fair amount of effort, away from the table, to uncover certain errors in your strategy.

Quote:
Quote:
In the “Self-Control as a Muscle” sub-chapter we’re told:
Poker is at its core, a self-control game
Really? To me poker is mainly a game of knowledge. Having good self-control but not understanding how to play well won’t get you very far. Isn’t this obvious?
Quote:
Part of my doctoral thesis is based around the concept of self-control. While self-control is certainly a thing, in recent years the research that is discussed in your article; namely self-control as a muscle, increasing self-control and reducing the impact of self-control is hotly disputed in the scientific literature.

Recent research has argued that self-control does not rely on a limited resource, which renders much of what is written here about self-control and poker as atheoretical. In essence, what we have are a collection of essays, that although might make intuitive sense and help the reader to think a little about their lifestyle and how they might improve it, do not stand up to empirical scrutiny.
Okay. Again, to me this was just obvious from playing a lot of poker over years.

Quote:
Finally, with regards to 10k hours, I agree this is probably is not applicable to poker. To be an elite tennis player, dancer or musician (professions that stand up reasonably well to the 10k hours concept), you have to be among the best in the world. To be a professional poker player, as the adage goes, you just have to be the best at the table. So someone who can beat PLO/NL10 for a decent clip can probably make a living if they put enough hours in, and to get to this standard certainly does not take 10k hours. In contrast, I spent 3 years learning the guitar before I gave up on my dream of becoming a rock star, and was still some distance off being to the required standard that someone would employ me as a musician!
To me this also goes back to the idea of speed, timing, and coordination. Yes, I agree for tennis or playing the guitar. It takes a lot of practice assuming you have the ability. But in a game like poker which is based mainly on knowledge, while it certainly requires some work, it just doesn't take anywhere near that long.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 05-30-2017, 11:56 PM   #18
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Aces123123 View Post
I think you are meassuring two different things. Poker is probably the game that has the lowest barrier to entry for making a living at it. You just need to find a couple of players willing to play for high enough stakes that are worse than you.
Hi Aces:

I think it's a little more complex than this especially if you have to contend with a few other players who play as well or better than you. But in general I do agree with this point.

As an aside, years ago, there were a couple of well known players (whose names I won't mention, who were known to have the opposite problem. That is even though they played well, they always seemed to be in very tough games.

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But this is not playing at an elite level. Playing at an elite level is being one of the best in the world. That probably takes a lot of time. Playing online speeds up the process, since you see more hands. But I guess the variance iin poker slows down the process, since it is harder to get accurate feedback.
I think this word "elite" is highly misused. Years ago we didn't hear it but heard the words "world class" instead. I much prefer the word "expert," and in a world with a large short term luck factor "expert" makes more sense than "elite."

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 05-31-2017, 12:00 AM   #19
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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I think it is pretty well established that stress can effect Implicit decision making or in terms of poker making assumptions about what hands people are playing and how they will react to certain actions.

You might be able to consciously deliberate peoples ranges and reactions away from the table but other then maybe Haxton or Bill Chen I doubt most players can do so at the table without the aid of "intuition" which in my opinion can absolutely be affected by stress i.e. emotional disregulation.

Another area were people make mistakes in poker is in too much conscious deliberation.

I am sure people will disagree with this but I enjoy the discussion so troll away!
Hi Moreconfusednow:

I agree with what you're saying as long as it's a very, and I want to emphasize the word "very," stressful situation. However, how many situations in poker would qualify as being "very stressful." While they certainly exiast, I don't think they occur that often for the typical player.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:28 AM   #20
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Just from my own experience I would agree with this. But I would also add that most of poker that gets played is relatively stress free.

I certainly agree with this. And just as an example, if you're a top tennis player and are trying to return an opponent's 120 mile per hour serve, you have about half a second from the instance that the ball leaves your opponent's racket until it hits yours.
While I agree that most poker is played stress free, it does depend how we refer to the concept of stress. "stress" is usually used to signify a negative situation. However, there are actually 2 types of stress - distress and eustress.

Destress is what people usually mean when they use the word stress. it is associated with negative short- and long-term consequences that can impact performance and lifestyle, and can lead to physical and mental health problems.

Eustress is a facilitative type of stress; it is essentially a positive state of increased arousal, where you feel more alert and energetic. I think a lot of good players would say when they are playing well, they feel in a state of eustress. This extension does extend to the sport psychology world as well. Getting your athlete aroused so they are alert and in a positive frame of mind )but not overly aroused) is one of the key roles of a sport psychologist. I think this is one area where sport psychology can extend to the poker world.

As a footnote related to reaction times, I recently conducted a cognitive experiment where reaction time was one of the outcomes we measured. Basically it took over half a second (about 600ms) for participants to press a key on the keyboard in reaction to a word on the screen - a conscious process. This gives you some idea how impressive a tennis player is to return a serve in less than that time, when you consider how much physical movement there is in accurately hitting a ball compared to kitting a key.
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:15 PM   #21
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

So ya it is obvious that some people can play their best in the "highest stress moments" like maybe a first final in tennis.

It is better to think of "too much stress" as when a person is no longer able to regulate their own emotional state (stay calm under stress) as opposed to some objective amount of stress.

And to Mason's point above, I agree only at final tables or playing way above your stakes will stress itself be the main cause of tilt (or bad play if you like).

IMO i believe most of tilt is when people become angry and are no longer able to regulate their own emotional states and thereby can't play their best (access their knowledge efficiently) . I think the majority of times this happens is because the brain is not very good at understanding variance. I sometimes think there are only like 3 people in the world who actually can truly understand variance. The rest of either don't understand or pretend we do. And obviously the fact there is money involved contributes to why people get angry.
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Old 06-02-2017, 06:40 PM   #22
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post

I think this word "elite" is highly misused. Years ago we didn't hear it but heard the words "world class" instead. I much prefer the word "expert," and in a world with a large short term luck factor "expert" makes more sense than "elite."
English isn't my first language, so I wouldn't mind changing elite to something else World class is closer to the meaning I intended, than expert. Anyone beating middle limits online long term probably play at an expert level, but I doubt many of them are world class.
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Old 06-03-2017, 03:52 PM   #23
Moreconfusednow
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Re: Poker Mindset Book Reviews

For people that are interested in all things "emotions" I just came across this and was a bit awe struck. Change the way you think you might be able to change the way the brain creates emotions.


https://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2017/04/1...ldman-barrett/
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