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Old 07-24-2017, 12:00 AM   #1
Mason Malmuth
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For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Hi Everyone:

What do you have to say about the fact that our most recent WSOP Champion had been coached to visualize a deuce coming out on the river. This is just another example of why I think so little of these coaches.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 07-24-2017, 12:15 AM   #2
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Lol seriously visualize a deuce?
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Old 07-24-2017, 03:01 AM   #3
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Jesus....
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Old 07-24-2017, 10:37 AM   #4
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

I would rather pay a coach AFTER he helped me because none have helped me thus far except shrink my bankroll.
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Old 07-24-2017, 11:01 AM   #5
Jared Tendler
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi Everyone:

What do you have to say about the fact that our most recent WSOP Champion had been coached to visualize a deuce coming out on the river. This is just another example of why I think so little of these coaches.

Best wishes,
Mason
Mason,

Do you have a link to where this was said? Pretty shocking if true.
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Old 07-24-2017, 05:47 PM   #6
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Jared Tendler View Post
Mason,

Do you have a link to where this was said? Pretty shocking if true.
Go to this thread and start reading at Post #8204:

https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29...l#post52587243

Mason
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Old 07-25-2017, 11:11 AM   #7
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Jared Tendler View Post
Mason,

Do you have a link to where this was said? Pretty shocking if true.
He said it as soon as they gave him the bracelet.

I know he said it was his "mental coach" but I can't help but think it was more of a "life coach" that gave him that dopey advice. Anyone can be a "life coach" and most have no counseling or therapy training at all. I would hope if someone were genuinely looking for a mental coach, they would at least want some sort of legitimate credentials such as a Masters degree or doctorate in psychology. I would hope.
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Old 07-25-2017, 11:18 AM   #8
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

And Mason, I'm not really sure why you're so against acknowledging the mental side of the game. It is a HUGE component to the game. Helping people take bad beats without going on tilt, understanding the motivations of your opponents so you can exploit them, understanding your own motivations and how to avoid being exploited, being able to maintain focus and grind for hours and days on end; all of these things are skills that can be taught.

I'll admit that a lot of "mental coaches" are charlatans peddling garbage advice; but there is something to be said even for the garbage advice. The placebo effect of that advice and believing that having a mental coach makes you more prepared can boost ones confidence enough to play a more relaxed and assertive game.
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Old 07-25-2017, 05:45 PM   #9
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Dr. Meh View Post
And Mason, I'm not really sure why you're so against acknowledging the mental side of the game. It is a HUGE component to the game. Helping people take bad beats without going on tilt, understanding the motivations of your opponents so you can exploit them, understanding your own motivations and how to avoid being exploited, being able to maintain focus and grind for hours and days on end; all of these things are skills that can be taught.
None of this is accurate and you've been told this before.

Quote:
I'll admit that a lot of "mental coaches" are charlatans peddling garbage advice; but there is something to be said even for the garbage advice. The placebo effect of that advice and believing that having a mental coach makes you more prepared can boost ones confidence enough to play a more relaxed and assertive game.
Great. And if you don't have the knowledge to play well, even though you're highly confident, all this will do is cost you money and you probably won't be highly confident for long. See my book for more discussion of this exact topic.

Also, what I think is happening here is that, as far as I can tell, much of the silly material that the poker mental coaches espouse comes from the sports world. For instance, doesn't it make sense for a coach to tell one of his athletes to visualize what they're doing. However, when things like speed, timing, and coordination are not very important, as is the case with poker, much of this advice becomes laughable.

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Old 07-25-2017, 06:37 PM   #10
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
None of this is accurate and you've been told this before.



Quote:
From Mason Malmuth: Great. And if you don't have the knowledge to play well, even though you're highly confident, all this will do is cost you money and you probably won't be highly confident for long. See my book for more discussion of this exact topic.

Also, what I think is happening here is that, as far as I can tell, much of the silly material that the poker mental coaches espouse comes from the sports world. For instance, doesn't it make sense for a coach to tell one of his athletes to visualize what they're doing. However, when things like speed, timing, and coordination are not very important, as is the case with poker, much of this advice becomes laughable.

Mason
Quote:
From Dr. Meh: Umm what part isn't true? That those things aren't important or that mental coaches teach those things?
From Mason Malmuth: When you write things like

Quote:
From Dr. Meh: And Mason, I'm not really sure why you're so against acknowledging the mental side of the game.
From Mason Malmuth: Please note that I wrote a whole book on this exact subject. If I was against acknowledging the mental side of the game this wouldn't be the case.

Quote:
From Dr. Meh: The second part is where you tend to get stuck. Nobody is saying the mental game is more important or even equally important as a sound understanding of the game theory and math involved.
From Mason Malmuth: And I never said anyone was saying this.

Quote:
From Dr. Meh: It's a supplemental aspect for people who already play a solid game but might struggle with controlling their own emotions and/or other mental blocks. If mental coaches say otherwise, they are swindlers.
From Mason Malmuth: Now we're beginning to agree. While I point out in my book Real Poker Psychology that this stuff can have a little bit of value, I also point out that if someone seizes on this stuff and neglects to learn good strategy then it is negative. (See the "Conclusion" of my book.)

Quote:
From Dr. Meh: You're right that a lot of it comes from sports psychology and a lot of it is irrelevant to poker.
From Mason Malmuth: Okay.

Quote:
From Dr. Meh: However, poker is a competitive game and there certainly are components of sports psychology that can help gain a competitive edge for some people. Again, most of it relates to emotional control but it relates nonetheless.
From Mason Malmuth: This is better explained by me in our newer book Poker and More written with David Sklansky. In that book I explain that any game can be divided into two components -- knowledge and execution. Most of the sports psychology stuff that is coming into poker should really help with execution, but poker is mainly a knowledge game. Notice I didn't say it's completely a knowledge game with a zero execution component.

Quote:
From Dr. Meh: I would agree that some people put too much on the mental side of things without first addressing severe leaks elsewhere. However, it is foolhardy to write off the mental game completely and to not acknowledge that some people can benefit from learning new mental skills. That isn't true for everyone but there certainly are those who would benefit greatly from a well-trained and properly educated mental coach.
From Mason Malmuth: This sounds fine to me. But I suspect you can't find one poker mental coach who you would agree is "well-trained and properly educated" for poker.

From Mason Malmuth: Now do me a favor. Quit attributing things to me that I don't say.

Mason

Special note: If the above post doesn't look quite right it's because instead of hitting the quote button I accidently hit the edit button. I've fixed it the best I can. My appologies to Dr. Meh for doing this.
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:31 AM   #11
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Go to this thread and start reading at Post #8204:

https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29...l#post52587243

Mason
I actually found the ESPN video of him saying that: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=20136394

[Insert face palm] This is not how I think about variance. Mason, having read my book, you know that I advocate for players to understand variance and luck better, and work hard with them to realize they have no control of the cards. I know you and I have our differences of opinion about the value of my work, but we're aligned here.

Best,
Jared
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Old 07-26-2017, 11:25 AM   #12
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Was in this other thread about poker charity, w/ REG, and he gave the same tired analogy of poker to tennis pointing to numbers of winners and industry size. Poker is closer to trading TOPS cards than it is to tennis.
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Old 07-26-2017, 06:09 PM   #13
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Jared Tendler View Post
I actually found the ESPN video of him saying that: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=20136394

[Insert face palm] This is not how I think about variance. Mason, having read my book, you know that I advocate for players to understand variance and luck better, and work hard with them to realize they have no control of the cards. I know you and I have our differences of opinion about the value of my work, but we're aligned here.

Best,
Jared
Except that your understanding of variance, in my opinion, seems incomplete. The following is from my review of your first book (and the complete review can be found here: https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...8&postcount=39)

Quote:
However, much of the discussion of variance in this book shows an incomplete understanding of the subject. For instance on page 102 Tendler writes:

Though it may not seem like a big deal, just wishing you could control variance means you’re giving up control.

The problem with this sentence is that expert players do things to control and reduce their variance all the time. This includes multi-tabling (on the Internet) where many games of small stakes are substituted for one game at a large stakes, emphasis is placed on reading hands, and playing tighter than optimal which in some cases will lower your expectation by a little but your variance by a lot.

Continuing on page 102:

Let’s assume you have actually run worse than expected and for far longer than the math says is likely, it’s completely reasonable to be pissed off,

Well what does the math say? First, it should be noted that the math says the effect of variance will dissipate over time. That’s because the square root of the variance, known as the standard deviation and from which the statistical properties of your results are derived from, is proportional to the square root of the number of hands played while your results are proportional to the number of hands played. Putting this in understandable English, it means that in most forms of poker, if you have poor results over a fairly large number of played hands, your understanding of strategy probably needs a lot of improvement.

Continuing with the sentence:

but the question is whether that frustration or anger affects the quality of your play.

This is a loaded statement. There are states that players can enter, and tilt is just one of these states, where their games can deteriorate. But all of these states are usually solved by improving your understanding of different aspects of poker including strategy, the short term luck factor, and why poker at times can be counter-intuitive to many players. (See my book Real Poker Psychology for more discussion of all the states.
a little later in my review:

Quote:
In addition, Tendler recognizes on page 204:

After a large enough sample, regardless of how you feel about your ability, your results tell the real story.

Of course this is correct. But why he mentions this here and not in the discussion I referenced above on page 102 is curious.
and you charge a new client $1,300 for four hours.

Mason
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:24 PM   #14
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Except that your understanding of variance, in my opinion, seems incomplete. The following is from my review of your first book (and the complete review can be found here: https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...8&postcount=39)


However, much of the discussion of variance in this book shows an incomplete understanding of the subject. For instance on page 102 Tendler writes:

Though it may not seem like a big deal, just wishing you could control variance means you’re giving up control.

The problem with this sentence is that expert players do things to control and reduce their variance all the time. This includes multi-tabling (on the Internet) where many games of small stakes are substituted for one game at a large stakes, emphasis is placed on reading hands, and playing tighter than optimal which in some cases will lower your expectation by a little but your variance by a lot.
You're right my wording isn't exactly right. There are many ways that players can reduce variance. What I'm intending here is more to address the subconscious desire many players have to control the cards. Which speaks to exactly what you're problem is with what Scott said in that interview.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Continuing on page 102:

Let’s assume you have actually run worse than expected and for far longer than the math says is likely, it’s completely reasonable to be pissed off,

Well what does the math say? First, it should be noted that the math says the effect of variance will dissipate over time. That’s because the square root of the variance, known as the standard deviation and from which the statistical properties of your results are derived from, is proportional to the square root of the number of hands played while your results are proportional to the number of hands played. Putting this in understandable English, it means that in most forms of poker, if you have poor results over a fairly large number of played hands, your understanding of strategy probably needs a lot of improvement.

Continuing with the sentence:

but the question is whether that frustration or anger affects the quality of your play.

This is a loaded statement. There are states that players can enter, and tilt is just one of these states, where their games can deteriorate. But all of these states are usually solved by improving your understanding of different aspects of poker including strategy, the short term luck factor, and why poker at times can be counter-intuitive to many players. (See my book Real Poker Psychology for more discussion of all the states.
And this is one of our fundamental points of disagreement, which we've discussed before. If people could remove their their beliefs about themselves, others, the world, how to learn, their career, their family, their goals/aspirations, the things that matter deeply to them, etc...basically everything that makes them human, and only focus on poker purely from a mathematical perspective, then you're correct. That may be how you operate and many of the players you know, but that's not how most people are. There's a lot they don't know about all of the things I just mentioned, or how flaws in them cause mental and emotional problems. That's where I come in. By correcting the problems they're having in poker, which I lay out in the book, I'm helping them to perform better in poker and in turn they often also improve how they approach other things that matter to them, or their life in general. Poker is the venue for people to better understand and solve their mental and emotional issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post

a little later in my review:

After a large enough sample, regardless of how you feel about your ability, your results tell the real story.

Of course this is correct. But why he mentions this here and not in the discussion I referenced above on page 102 is curious.
You're right, I could have mentioned that earlier as well. I wasn't intentionally trying to misinform the reader about the how results are what matter most in the long-term. No book is perfect and I've never claimed mine is. It's easy upon reflection to make changes. But for the book to continue to be among the best sellers 6+ years later speaks to how much it's helped players over the years. Plus, in my opinion, I don't think I would have lasted in this industry if was selling bulls**t.

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
and you charge a new client $1,300 for four hours.

Mason
Supply and demand.
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Old 07-26-2017, 09:11 PM   #15
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Meh View Post
From Mason Malmuth: When you write things like



From Mason Malmuth: Please note that I wrote a whole book on this exact subject. If I was against acknowledging the mental side of the game this wouldn't be the case.



From Mason Malmuth: And I never said anyone was saying this.



From Mason Malmuth: Now we're beginning to agree. While I point out in my book Real Poker Psychology that this stuff can have a little bit of value, I also point out that if someone seizes on this stuff and neglects to learn good strategy then it is negative. (See the "Conclusion" of my book.)



From Mason Malmuth: Okay.



From Mason Malmuth: This is better explained by me in our newer book Poker and More written with David Sklansky. In that book I explain that any game can be divided into two components -- knowledge and execution. Most of the sports psychology stuff that is coming into poker should really help with execution, but poker is mainly a knowledge game. Notice I didn't say it's completely a knowledge game with a zero execution component.



From Mason Malmuth: This sounds fine to me. But I suspect you can't find one poker mental coach who you would agree is "well-trained and properly educated" for poker.

From Mason Malmuth: Now do me a favor. Quit attributing things to me that I don't say.

Mason

Special note: If the above post doesn't look quite right it's because instead of hitting the quote button I accidently hit the edit button. I've fixed it the best I can. My appologies to Dr. Meh for doing this.
Glad you included the special note because I was very confused at first.

You say I'm attributing things to you that you don't say but the fact is, you've been sort of all over the place the last couple years with your opinion of mental coaches. I think you're starting to warm to the idea slightly in specific circumstances. However, even in this thread you seem to be sending conflicting messages. The title of the thread and your original post definitely don't seem to show any agreement with mental coaches whatsoever yet you claim they might be helpful to some people.

The reason people keep going back and forth on this issue with you and you think people are attributing things to you that you didn't explicitly say is because you aren't clear on your position. You explicitly acknowledge some support after a solid game is established and only in certain cases but then you post things that seem passive aggressive and condescending to mental coaches. People read between the lines to those things and it makes us confused on how you feel about it.

I'm guessing you yourself are a bit conflicted on your position, despite having recently written a book about it, and that's okay. Shoot, I'm a psychologist and I'm conflicted on it simply because there are a lot of people claiming to be experts on something they don't understand just so they can make a quick buck. But don't get offended when people are confused about your position when you post seemingly conflicting messages.
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Old 07-27-2017, 01:26 AM   #16
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Jared Tendler View Post
And this is one of our fundamental points of disagreement, which we've discussed before. If people could remove their their beliefs about themselves, others, the world, how to learn, their career, their family, their goals/aspirations, the things that matter deeply to them, etc...basically everything that makes them human, and only focus on poker purely from a mathematical perspective, then you're correct. That may be how you operate and many of the players you know, but that's not how most people are. There's a lot they don't know about all of the things I just mentioned, or how flaws in them cause mental and emotional problems. That's where I come in. By correcting the problems they're having in poker, which I lay out in the book, I'm helping them to perform better in poker and in turn they often also improve how they approach other things that matter to them, or their life in general. Poker is the venue for people to better understand and solve their mental and emotional issues.
Would you be making the same point if the game in question was blackjack?

Mason
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Old 07-27-2017, 01:55 AM   #17
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Dr. Meh View Post
Glad you included the special note because I was very confused at first.
Again, my appologies for messing your post up. As an administrator I have some abilities that posters don't have and I need to be careful about hitting the wrong button.

Quote:
You say I'm attributing things to you that you don't say but the fact is, you've been sort of all over the place the last couple years with your opinion of mental coaches.
Well, this is a loaded question. If a mental coach was to give the right advice, similar to what's in my book, then my opinion of them would be positive. However, I don't see this happening.

Quote:
I think you're starting to warm to the idea slightly in specific circumstances. However, even in this thread you seem to be sending conflicting messages. The title of the thread and your original post definitely don't seem to show any agreement with mental coaches whatsoever yet you claim they might be helpful to some people.
Okay. This is from the "Conclusion" of my book:

Quote:
From the "Conclusion" of Real Poker Psychology: On a different tact, I want to take a moment and reexamine the idea of much of this poker psychology stuff. Is it really as bad as this book indicates? Or is my attitude too negative? I think the answer goes something like this.

Poker psychology, as presented in much of the recent material that has made its way to market, probably has a little value. It certainly won’t hurt to be a little more confident, to pay attention to a higher degree, to have a good diet, or to even get a good night’s sleep. But if it means that you as a poker player latch on to this stuff and neglect to do those things that can improve your understanding of all things poker, and this includes the strategic concepts that govern sound play, then it really is quite detrimental to your long term results.

Put another way, as long as this recent poker psychology material doesn’t hurt you, if you’re someone who plays live, in my opinion, it might be worth as much as one-tenth of a bet an hour. But if it causes you to neglect those areas of poker where you need to improve, then its negative effect will lower your potential future win rate by much more than one-tenth of a bet per hour. And if it encourages you to participate in games where your expectation is negative, then it’s beyond bad.
Quote:
The reason people keep going back and forth on this issue with you and you think people are attributing things to you that you didn't explicitly say is because you aren't clear on your position. You explicitly acknowledge some support after a solid game is established and only in certain cases but then you post things that seem passive aggressive and condescending to mental coaches. People read between the lines to those things and it makes us confused on how you feel about it.
What are you even talking about? My position is quite clear. If you have doubts about it, I suggest you read Real Poker Psychology and the poker psychology stuff that I wrote in our newer book Poker And More.

Quote:
I'm guessing you yourself are a bit conflicted on your position, despite having recently written a book about it, and that's okay. Shoot, I'm a psychologist and I'm conflicted on it simply because there are a lot of people claiming to be experts on something they don't understand just so they can make a quick buck.
But I'm not conflicted about any of this stuff. What I've written is based on mathematical modeling, basic statistical theory, and the fact that probability theory can be counterintuitive to many people. Once you understand this plus have a good grasp of poker strategy, virtually all of this poker psychology stuff falls out and becomes quite straight forward.

Quote:
But don't get offended when people are confused about your position when you post seemingly conflicting messages.
This may surprise you, but I'm not offended at all. In fact, I'm quite use to it. I've been writing about poker/gambling for about 35 years and much of what I've written confused a lot of people when it was first published because they failed to grasp how statistical theory when applied to poker/gambling really works, and it often works very differently from what many people think.

An example of this is that over 30 years ago I explained how a great poker player is more likely to go broke than a good poker player when they each play in the exact same game with the same starting bankroll. This is another example of how this stuff can be counterintuitive, but it's absolutely correct. (See my book, Gambling Theory and Other Topics, for more discussion.)

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 07-27-2017, 02:58 AM   #18
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Dr. Meh View Post
Shoot, I'm a psychologist and I'm conflicted on it simply because there are a lot of people claiming to be experts on something they don't understand just so they can make a quick buck
I agree with this. Until recently, anyone (in the UK) could use the title "sport psychologist". It's now a protected title whereby to call yourself a sport psychologist, you need an undergrad in psychology, an MSc and 2 years of supervised training by a registered sport psychologist (and to be really taken seriously, a doctorate in psychology).

Unfortunately, poker has no such requirement, and so what we probably have now are a lot of failed players, who are failed poker coaches now trying to make it as mental game coaches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Poker psychology, as presented in much of the recent material that has made its way to market, probably has a little value. It certainly won’t hurt to be a little more confident, to pay attention to a higher degree, to have a good diet, or to even get a good night’s sleep. But if it means that you as a poker player latch on to this stuff and neglect to do those things that can improve your understanding of all things poker, and this includes the strategic concepts that govern sound play, then it really is quite detrimental to your long term results.

Put another way, as long as this recent poker psychology material doesn’t hurt you, if you’re someone who plays live, in my opinion, it might be worth as much as one-tenth of a bet an hour. But if it causes you to neglect those areas of poker where you need to improve, then its negative effect will lower your potential future win rate by much more than one-tenth of a bet per hour. And if it encourages you to participate in games where your expectation is negative, then it’s beyond bad.
I also agree with this. For many players, there is going to be infinitely more value in just improving their poker game; however, I think many players are just not self-aware enough to understand their problems are down to lack of knowledge or work ethic, and see the mental game coach as a quick fix.

For example, I'd expect a qualified sport psychologist who was approached by a golfer with a +15 handicap to refer them to someone who could improve their swing. If I were to work as a mental game coach I'd probably refuse to work with more players than I'd end up working with due to their fundamental lack of basic knowledge about poker. However, I'm not sure such ethical standards exist with the majority of mental game coaches, and as a result the ones who are doing some good work are unfortunately also tarnished.
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Old 07-27-2017, 09:24 AM   #19
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

I saw the live coverage - my first thought was that his mental coach should have been telling him to visualise anything other than a deuce, so he could use those valuable moments to prepare his brain for the likely challenge of beating an opponent who'd just doubled up and was back in the game.
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Old 07-27-2017, 10:16 AM   #20
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by jeccross View Post
I saw the live coverage - my first thought was that his mental coach should have been telling him to visualise anything other than a deuce, so he could use those valuable moments to prepare his brain for the likely challenge of beating an opponent who'd just doubled up and was back in the game.
Basically this. You should be calculating, not visualizing over the board.
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Old 07-28-2017, 11:49 AM   #21
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Would you be making the same point if the game in question was blackjack?

Mason
Nope.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:10 PM   #22
Jared Tendler
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
I also agree with this. For many players, there is going to be infinitely more value in just improving their poker game; however, I think many players are just not self-aware enough to understand their problems are down to lack of knowledge or work ethic, and see the mental game coach as a quick fix.
This is just my experience, but I would estimate that less than 1% of the players I've worked with see working with me as a quick fix. Most often players delay working with me until well beyond it being obvious that their, tilt for example, is stopping them from applying what they know when they play.

It certainly possible that players are reading my books or reading articles on poker psychology when they would be better served working on their game. But as far coaching is concerned, it's not a pattern I see much.

And to be clear, I've said from day 1 in this industry that improving tactically will always be far more important than the mental game. I came from the golf world where bull**** like "Golf is 90% mental" was the battle cry of the golf psychologists out there. Which defies logic that the mind could be that powerful. The same holds true in poker.

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
For example, I'd expect a qualified sport psychologist who was approached by a golfer with a +15 handicap to refer them to someone who could improve their swing. If I were to work as a mental game coach I'd probably refuse to work with more players than I'd end up working with due to their fundamental lack of basic knowledge about poker. However, I'm not sure such ethical standards exist with the majority of mental game coaches, and as a result the ones who are doing some good work are unfortunately also tarnished.
A 15 handicap golfers is pretty good, better than average. If they've recognized that their dealing with an anxiety issue that is stopping them from playing better, why wouldn't you want to help them. Early in my career I worked with a woman who had been playing for several years and couldn't break 110 (~40 handicap). Her swing was better than her score because on the course she dealt with major overwhelming embarrassment. After a few sessions she broke 100 for the first time and was thrilled. I'm not one to turn away people asking for help, once it's clear their issue is likely more mental than it is tactical. Unless their issues are beyond the scope of my expertise, like someone who has a clear gambling problem or a deeper personal issues and they'd be better served by a therapist they can see in person.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:12 PM   #23
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by jeccross View Post
I saw the live coverage - my first thought was that his mental coach should have been telling him to visualise anything other than a deuce, so he could use those valuable moments to prepare his brain for the likely challenge of beating an opponent who'd just doubled up and was back in the game.
Agree with this completely. Golfers are taught the same thing in when playing in match-play (Basically HU action). Always assume your opponent will do something miraculous so you're always mentally sharp and never on the defensive.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:47 PM   #24
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Jared Tendler View Post
This is just my experience, but I would estimate that less than 1% of the players I've worked with see working with me as a quick fix. Most often players delay working with me until well beyond it being obvious that their, tilt for example, is stopping them from applying what they know when they play.

It certainly possible that players are reading my books or reading articles on poker psychology when they would be better served working on their game. But as far coaching is concerned, it's not a pattern I see much.
Fair point, but you're also working at the high-end of the market. I would guess that your client profile is a mid/high stakes player (if we are making golf analogies, a scratch golfer), who while they can obviously make improvements in their game, has demonstrated the work ethic and self-awareness to have probably reached the stage where they are looking for marginal gains in most areas.

However, many of the posters in the psychology forum looking for help with their mental game fall into the quick-fix category, although I couldn't say how many of them actually get as far as approaching or working with a mental game coach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared Tendler View Post
A 15 handicap golfers is pretty good, better than average. If they've recognized that their dealing with an anxiety issue that is stopping them from playing better, why wouldn't you want to help them. Early in my career I worked with a woman who had been playing for several years and couldn't break 110 (~40 handicap). Her swing was better than her score because on the course she dealt with major overwhelming embarrassment. After a few sessions she broke 100 for the first time and was thrilled. I'm not one to turn away people asking for help, once it's clear their issue is likely more mental than it is tactical. Unless their issues are beyond the scope of my expertise, like someone who has a clear gambling problem or a deeper personal issues and they'd be better served by a therapist they can see in person.
Again, it's a fair point, and there are always exceptions - working with a junior golfer who was +15 for example. They may well be having age specific issues (pushy parents being the obvious example), that a psychologist would be best placed to help them work through.

In either example, you may well take on the work for a reduced fee, or refer them to a colleague in the process of training to be a SP who will work for much less money. However, I think in both examples, it's hard to justify charging your full rate to the client when they will likely never see a return on their investment.
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Old 07-28-2017, 06:05 PM   #25
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
I also agree with this. For many players, there is going to be infinitely more value in just improving their poker game; however, I think many players are just not self-aware enough to understand their problems are down to lack of knowledge or work ethic, and see the mental game coach as a quick fix.

For example, I'd expect a qualified sport psychologist who was approached by a golfer with a +15 handicap to refer them to someone who could improve their swing. If I were to work as a mental game coach I'd probably refuse to work with more players than I'd end up working with due to their fundamental lack of basic knowledge about poker. However, I'm not sure such ethical standards exist with the majority of mental game coaches, and as a result the ones who are doing some good work are unfortunately also tarnished.
Hi Elrazor:

Just to elaborate on this a little more, in an athletic spot its often easy to see errors an athlete makes, such as a flawed swing, due to the small short term luck factor present in most sports. But in poker, due to the large short term luck factor mistakes that a player makes can be much tougher to recognize. Thus these mental coaches show up offering help in other areas that have little value.

Best wishes,
Mason
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