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Old 07-30-2017, 03:43 AM   #51
Elrazor
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

I think we're wandering OT here.

Here are the rules and results of the ultimatum game:

Quote:
The rules of the game are surprisingly simple. Two players have to agree on how to split a sum of money. The proposer makes an offer. If the responder accepts, the deal goes ahead. If the responder rejects, neither player gets anything. In both cases, the game is over. Obviously, rational responders should accept even the smallest positive offer, since the alternative is getting nothing. Proposers, therefore, should be able to claim almost the entire sum. In a large number of human studies, however, conducted with different incentives in different countries, the majority of proposers offer 40-50% of the total sum, and about half of all responders reject offers below 30% (Nowak, Page & Sigmund, 2000).
I assume a computer would quickly work out GTO for the proposer, given a large enough sample size. The flipside is that GTO for the receiver is to accept any proposal.

Now, it may be that intelligent poker players would indeed accept any offer; however, I have my doubts. What psychologists (or mental game coaches) are interested in is why the receiver would rather forego a guaranteed sum of money in order to spite the proposer, as there is no rational explanation for this behaviour.

Given the volume of research in this area and robustness of the finding, it is hard to believe that a behaviour that is likely a hardwired evolved adaptation can be left at the door when sitting at the poker table.

Reference

Nowak, M. A., Page, K. M., & Sigmund, K. (2000). Fairness versus reason in the ultimatum game. Science, 289(5485), 1773-1775.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:09 AM   #52
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
I think we're wandering OT here.

Here are the rules and results of the ultimatum game:



I assume a computer would quickly work out GTO for the proposer, given a large enough sample size. The flipside is that GTO for the receiver is to accept any proposal.

Now, it may be that intelligent poker players would indeed accept any offer; however, I have my doubts. What psychologists (or mental game coaches) are interested in is why the receiver would rather forego a guaranteed sum of money in order to spite the proposer, as there is no rational explanation for this behaviour.

Given the volume of research in this area and robustness of the finding, it is hard to believe that a behaviour that is likely a hardwired evolved adaptation can be left at the door when sitting at the poker table.

Reference

Nowak, M. A., Page, K. M., & Sigmund, K. (2000). Fairness versus reason in the ultimatum game. Science, 289(5485), 1773-1775.
Serious poker players aren't even thinking of their opponents as human beings. They take their emotions into account only for strategic reasons. (Although they might reject bad offers in your game for the sake of future profits.) All this psychological stuff applies to the man on the street but usually not to those who have made a commitment to become winning players. That's professional gambling 101.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:14 AM   #53
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

There IS however a reason why aspiring players, in my opinion, sometimes play irrationally. A reason unrelated to why regular Joes are irrational. It is to subconsciously give them an EXCUSE for their losing. They don't want to admit to themselves that if they played their best at all times they would still lose. Mike Caro was the quintessetional example.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:28 AM   #54
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by David Sklansky View Post
Just in case you or others here don't fully understand what GTO does, it COMPLETELY NEGATES the opponents wit and cunning. Admittedly that has now made expert poker less interesting. But there is no way to get around it. That is why the world's best players are now losing to computers heads up.
I'm glad you posted here to try to clarify GTO. What rough percentage of all players in the world would you say you are referring to when you identify the world's best players? What percent of the players in the world would you classify as experts? Would you agree that the VAST majority of players are not experts and, by definition, are not the best in the world?

For those who are in the vast majority who are either unwilling or unable to learn the exact GTO way of playing, would they benefit from learning to control their emotions at the table? What about the experts and the best in the world who are working on GTO, would they benefit from working on their emotional control and levels of fatigue while studying and playing the incredible number of hours necessary to learn it?

A mathematical expert professional player devoid of emotional investment and an expert in GTO playing in a game against another mathematical expert professional player devoid of emotional investment and an expert may not need to worry about the psychological aspect of their play. Of course, this is all assuming GTO exists for full ring no limit games and that the game "can be beat." Not only that it exists but that humans can learn it and apply it on a regular basis. And with proper bankroll management so as to keep the emotions in check.

But for every single other player in the world who is not an expert in a yet unsolved GTO theory and who is driven by emotion as well as logic, controlling your psychological processes is an important component to the game and always will be.

A mathematical approach will always be the best way to profit in the long run. Nobody disputes that. But humans aren't computers. They aren't machines. Some people think strictly from the logical side of the mind with little to no emotions. Those are the ones who, like yourself, do well with the mathematical approach. But you and your ilk are very few and far between when you consider the broad spectrum of players currently playing. Players who are very emotionally charged and enjoy the exciting gambling experience with playing. Players who use their logic combined with their emotions when thousands of dollars are on the line and some jack hole is smirking at your misfortune after he bluffs you out of a pot.

Yes, someday someone may crack the code and figure out optimal play for every situation encountered at a poker table. He or she may even influence a large number of players to try to study and learn GTO. But the number of players who are not only able to learn it well enough to apply it AND who are bankrolled enough to not let the money bother them AND who are capable of shutting off any emotional attachment to the game are minuscule. Shoot, a mental coach might be good for those learning GTO so they can better shut off the emotions.

Incidentally, what is your take on mental coaches and/or the psychology of poker? How relevant do you think it is for the everyday player? Would that player possibly benefit from a knowledgeable mental coach?
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:58 AM   #55
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

^ Great post. having read David's posts I was going to post something similar, so I'm glad you saved me the time and effort, as well as probably making a better job!

One further point I'd like to make. When I played poker for a living, I played up to PLO600, which is probably beyond the average joe's expectation.

I did so without really being a maths guy - okay, I obviously understood how to calculate implied odds on the fly, and do some post-hoc analysis, but I was some way off being an expert.

I believe I was successful as a poker player just by doing the simple things well. So, living a healthy lifestyle, exercising making time for friends, relationship and outside hobbies. I was good at setting goals, had a decent work ethic and managed my time well.

In short, I was much better at life than I was at poker; however, as a result I was still able to achieve a fairly respectable standard as a poker player.

This for me demonstrated that, while I agree too much emphasis is placed on the mental game, that it cannot be ignored either.
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:08 AM   #56
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
^ Great post. having read David's posts I was going to post something similar, so I'm glad you saved me the time and effort, as well as probably making a better job!

One further point I'd like to make. When I played poker for a living, I played up to PLO600, which is probably beyond the average joe's expectation.

I did so without really being a maths guy - okay, I obviously understood how to calculate implied odds on the fly, and do some post-hoc analysis, but I was some way off being an expert.

I believe I was successful as a poker player just by doing the simple things well. So, living a healthy lifestyle, exercising making time for friends, relationship and outside hobbies. I was good at setting goals, had a decent work ethic and managed my time well.

In short, I was much better at life than I was at poker; however, as a result I was still able to achieve a fairly respectable standard as a poker player.

This for me demonstrated that, while I agree too much emphasis is placed on the mental game, that it cannot be ignored either.
Hi Elrazor:

It's a somewhat different subject, but I strongly disagree with the setting goals part. This is another area that separates me from these poker mental coaches who go on and on about goals. In fact, I would argue that most highly successful people don't set goals at all, and for what it's worth, I know that goal setting was never part of my thinking.

So how do highly successful people approach life? Well, they find something they like, work hard at it (partly because they enjoy it), and seize opportunities as they come along and are also flexible enough to make adjustments as other opportunities arise.

In my Gambling Theory book the first section is about what I call "Non-Self-Weighting Strategies." What I just described above would be non-self-weighting strategies applied to life.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:26 AM   #57
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Hi Everyone:

In Post #13 in response to Jered Tendler I wrote:

Quote:
and you charge a new client $1,300 for four hours.
In response to this, in the next post Tendler wrote:

Quote:
Supply and demand.
So I want to address this in a little more detail to help everyone understand where I'm coming from on this pricing.

First, I'm a strong believer in free markets. That is if you have a worth while product, you as the seller should be able to charge whatever price you want. If your price is too high, market forces will probably bring it down. And if your price is too low, sales will probably be so strong that it'll be obvious you can raise the price.

But notice I said "worth while product." For products that are not worthwhile, and in my opinion that's what we have here where at best the advice from these poker mental coaches should only be of little value, they shouldn't (again in my opinion) receive anything for their product.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:34 AM   #58
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
In fact, I would argue that most highly successful people don't set goals at all, and for what it's worth, I know that goal setting was never part of my thinking.

So how do highly successful approach life? Well, they find something they like, work hard at it (partly because they enjoy it), and seize opportunities as they come along and are also flexible enough to make adjustments as other opportunities arise.
There are numerous ways of setting goals, and I'd argue that most people do it to some degree.

So, I lead a healthy lifestyle. This is a process goal. I commit to doing a certain amount of exercise, a certain amount of times per week. I also set goals related to work. So, I know exactly what I want to accomplish tomorrow, and I have a rough goal for the week.

I think a lot of people engage in this type of goal setting.

What perhaps people don't do is set outcome goals, which I'm not sure are adaptive anyway - at least unless you have a clearly defined and internalised process. So I don't weight myself or count calories in order to know I'm leading a healthy lifestyle. However, when I was studying, I did set myself quantitative goals based on my own previous performance (i.e. beat my previous best essay mark). When I played poker, I tended to set goals like study for 1 hour and play 1000 hands a day. Again, I think a lot of people engage in this kind of process.

Goals are a small part of being more effective, and while I wouldn't overemphasise their importance I believe they can make a small yet important difference. While I wouldn't go "on and on" about goals, it would be remiss for any sports psychologist or mental game coach to completely ignore goal setting as a part of a balanced approach to improving performance.
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:38 AM   #59
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
I think we're wandering OT here.

Here are the rules and results of the ultimatum game:



I assume a computer would quickly work out GTO for the proposer, given a large enough sample size. The flipside is that GTO for the receiver is to accept any proposal.

Now, it may be that intelligent poker players would indeed accept any offer; however, I have my doubts. What psychologists (or mental game coaches) are interested in is why the receiver would rather forego a guaranteed sum of money in order to spite the proposer, as there is no rational explanation for this behaviour.

Given the volume of research in this area and robustness of the finding, it is hard to believe that a behaviour that is likely a hardwired evolved adaptation can be left at the door when sitting at the poker table.

Reference

Nowak, M. A., Page, K. M., & Sigmund, K. (2000). Fairness versus reason in the ultimatum game. Science, 289(5485), 1773-1775.
Hi Elrazor:

I thought I would give a version of this game that happened to me in real life. About 12 years ago, during the peak of the poker boom, we were approached by a famous European tournament player about translating our books into the language of his country. So I met with him down at The Rio during the WSOP of poker since we were interested in having this done. And since we had already signed contracts for some other foreign languages I told him what our standard terms were. His reply to me was that "I am special and that I get a better deal than that." I then told him to "Get lost" and that was the end of our conversation. We eventually signed a deal with another group to publish our books in his language.

Sounds a little like your game?

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:48 AM   #60
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Looking at the mathematics of the ultimatum game again, it's not a mixed strategy solution, but rather a pure solution for the first player to give an unfair deal, and for the second player to accept it. But, the flaw in reasoning is attempting to apply this vacuum example to the real world where there are many games repeating and referencing each other (reciprocal contracts in MM's anecdote), where it's perhaps better to reject ultimatums all together, or at least credibly threaten to reject ultimatums.

add: People in the survey are taking their real world experiences to play the game, and they are not really incorrect in doing so if you take a big picture approach/lense to the ultimatum game.

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Old 07-30-2017, 12:46 PM   #61
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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There are numerous ways of setting goals, and I'd argue that most people do it to some degree.

So, I lead a healthy lifestyle. This is a process goal. I commit to doing a certain amount of exercise, a certain amount of times per week. I also set goals related to work. So, I know exactly what I want to accomplish tomorrow, and I have a rough goal for the week.

I think a lot of people engage in this type of goal setting.

What perhaps people don't do is set outcome goals, which I'm not sure are adaptive anyway - at least unless you have a clearly defined and internalised process. So I don't weight myself or count calories in order to know I'm leading a healthy lifestyle. However, when I was studying, I did set myself quantitative goals based on my own previous performance (i.e. beat my previous best essay mark). When I played poker, I tended to set goals like study for 1 hour and play 1000 hands a day. Again, I think a lot of people engage in this kind of process.

Goals are a small part of being more effective, and while I wouldn't overemphasise their importance I believe they can make a small yet important difference. While I wouldn't go "on and on" about goals, it would be remiss for any sports psychologist or mental game coach to completely ignore goal setting as a part of a balanced approach to improving performance.
+1

Mason - I'm a little surprised to hear you don't set goals and instead grab opportunities as they come your way. I strongly disagree that "most successful people don't set goals." Were you referring to poker players or every person? If not just poker players, I think you are way off target. Virtually every business and successful business person sets goals. I would be shocked if you were to say 2+2 Publishing doesn't set goals and deadlines. It's an absolute necessity for any successful business to set goals and deadlines to ensure the organization is running in a fluid direction. I don't know the structural organization of 2+2 Publishing but if it consists of any more staff than yourself, I'd imagine you guys set goals and deadlines. While I agree that taking opportunities as they arise is vitally important, having set goals for an organization or an individual are crucial to success and the vast majority of successful people use them. Otherwise, you're banking on dumbluck to provide you with opportunities to succeed.
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Old 07-30-2017, 01:11 PM   #62
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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But for every single other player in the world who is not an expert in a yet unsolved GTO theory and who is driven by emotion as well as logic, controlling your psychological processes is an important component to the game and always will be.
You are missing my point. Of course it is important to to control your "emotional processes" when playing poker. But it IS NOT HARD TO DO and doesn't require paying lots of money to psychologists. It is easy to do once decisions are numerous and you are aware that there is a default strategy that automatically wins (though sometimes should be deviated from to increase that win). Tens of thousands of blackjack players have know that for 55 years. Same with lowball draw players. And it is now true for other poker players. All that is required is that the player be aware of the concept of EV and the idea that if he makes the right play he will be rewarded with what some called "Sklansky Bucks" It is NOT necessary that one always know what that right play actually is. And to get to a psychological place where you think in terms of EV, especially when decisions are numerous and your success depends on it doesn't take some robotic type of person. All it takes is someone who wants to win.
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Old 07-30-2017, 01:25 PM   #63
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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You are missing my point. Of course it is important to to control your "emotional processes" when playing poker. But it IS NOT HARD TO DO and doesn't require paying lots of money to psychologists. It is easy to do once decisions are numerous and you are aware that there is a default strategy that automatically wins (though sometimes should be deviated from to increase that win). Tens of thousands of blackjack players have know that for 55 years. Same with lowball draw players. And it is now true for other poker players. All that is required is that the player be aware of the concept of EV and the idea that if he makes the right play he will be rewarded with what some called "Sklansky Bucks" It is NOT necessary that one always know what that right play actually is. And to get to a psychological place where you think in terms of EV, especially when decisions are numerous and your success depends on it doesn't take some robotic type of person. All it takes is someone who wants to win.
Suppose someone "wants to win" but is struggling with overcoming the emotional component. Would that person benefit from having a mental coach to overcome those obstacles? What if that person finds that learning the mathematical approach is exhausting and starts to lose motivation. Could a mental coach possibly help that person? Just because you and others find it easy to overcome the emotions doesn't mean everyone else does. As previously noted, mental coaches are not necessary or even helpful for everyone but can be very helpful to those who need one.
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:22 PM   #64
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

Having a complete strategy is like having a box of recipes. If you have the box of recipes ready to go memorized (which can be quite a feat depending on how GTO you want to get), it will become the first thing you go to when you face a challenge. If you have an incomplete box of recipes, then you'll perhaps face some of the psychological winds as you try to "feel" yourself through it blindly. And who knows, it may somehow work-out brilliantly, but my experience is that it is problematic and tiring to try to improvise in a poker game. You'll fool yourself with randomness and think of the times improvising worked, and forget the times where it entirely blew-up in your face.

The more complete your recipes are, the better player you are, and the more you'll be in a position to make adjustments from the recipes without losing anything (exploitative play) money-wise. And this is the best way to make cool-headed decisions.

On the psychological front, it does help to have some recipes on tells, and basic tell reading combined with hand reading.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:11 PM   #65
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Dr. Meh View Post
Suppose someone "wants to win" but is struggling with overcoming the emotional component. Would that person benefit from having a mental coach to overcome those obstacles? What if that person finds that learning the mathematical approach is exhausting and starts to lose motivation. Could a mental coach possibly help that person? Just because you and others find it easy to overcome the emotions doesn't mean everyone else does. As previously noted, mental coaches are not necessary or even helpful for everyone but can be very helpful to those who need one.
Here is one other trick, other than thinking in terms of EV, to get yourself to make what you know intellectually is the right play even if you emotions are telling you otherwise.

Imagine you are being staked in a big game by an expert player. If you follow his instructions and win there is a big score for you. But if you disobey them he will pull you up. Surely most players will have little trouble resisting any temptation to play a hand any other way than the way he would want you to (again with proper adjustments and randomization). With that in mind all you have to do is imagine that the expert staking you is yourself. Simple.

I do realize that there are people out there who are so weak that even with these tricks they can't contain themselves. But they are not 99.99% of the population or even 80%. When you use numbers like 99% you are insulting the professionals with the implication that they almost have to be weirdos to hold their emotions in check without professional help. That might be the case for disciplines like surgery or jet piloting where normal humans wouldn't be able to keep calm in rare highly stressful situations. But normal humans, not robotic weirdos can keep calm in the moderately stressful situations that occur every minute in gambling games.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:03 PM   #66
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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But normal humans, not robotic weirdos can keep calm in the moderately stressful situations that occur every minute in gambling games.
….and yet tilt happens, and it happens to a decent population of poker players. In addition, normal humans also get addicted to gambling, and to smoking and to drinking and they do this even though they know it’s bad for them. People often do not make good decisions in poker, experimental research or in life, and a good psychologist can help people to improve their decision making, or break an addiction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sklansky View Post
Imagine you are being staked in a big game by an expert player. If you follow his instructions and win there is a big score for you. But if you disobey them he will pull you up. Surely most players will have little trouble resisting any temptation to play a hand any other way than the way he would want you to (again with proper adjustments and randomization). With that in mind all you have to do is imagine that the expert staking you is yourself. Simple.

I do realize that there are people out there who are so weak that even with these tricks they can't contain themselves.
Here is where we in broad agreement. When I played, I very rarely had issues with tilt, and if I did I was able to correct them with a limited amount of damage to my bankroll. I found it a fairly to understand Sklanksky bucks, to chalk off bad beats to bad luck, and move on.

However, that’s not true for everyone. Now, whether someone who can’t quite get their head around this concept is better served by being coached in math, poker or psychology is open to debate, and I personally tend to believe that for the majority of players, they would receive a better return on their investment hiring a poker coach than a psychologist.

That does not mean a decent percentage of poker players could not be helped by a psychologist. I would be surprised if I couldn’t sit down with pretty much any poker player for an hour and find areas where I felt they could make improvements – and I’m not just taking about exercising more, eating less, setting goals, etc. I’m talking about helping people to understand what makes them tick, to understand why both they and other people behave irrationally, and how they can use this information to help them make better decisions.

Whether that help is worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars is I guess a key part of the argument about mental coaches and poker. I doubt we would even be having this discussion if they were charging $50 an hour.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:21 PM   #67
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by David Sklansky View Post
Here is one other trick, other than thinking in terms of EV, to get yourself to make what you know intellectually is the right play even if you emotions are telling you otherwise.

Imagine you are being staked in a big game by an expert player. If you follow his instructions and win there is a big score for you. But if you disobey them he will pull you up. Surely most players will have little trouble resisting any temptation to play a hand any other way than the way he would want you to (again with proper adjustments and randomization). With that in mind all you have to do is imagine that the expert staking you is yourself. Simple.

I do realize that there are people out there who are so weak that even with these tricks they can't contain themselves. But they are not 99.99% of the population or even 80%. When you use numbers like 99% you are insulting the professionals with the implication that they almost have to be weirdos to hold their emotions in check without professional help. That might be the case for disciplines like surgery or jet piloting where normal humans wouldn't be able to keep calm in rare highly stressful situations. But normal humans, not robotic weirdos can keep calm in the moderately stressful situations that occur every minute in gambling games.
My 99.99% comments are clearly arbitrary numbers to illustrate a point and, in fact, were meant as a compliment. The .01% I was talking about are the ones, such as yourself, who have the capability of understanding the complex mathematics involved with GTO, are able to recall and correctly apply the concepts, and are able to self-regulate their emotions to the point that they are not a factor. They are abnormal for their abilities but that does not make them "weirdos" anymore than Mozart's musical talents made him a weirdo.

There's a reason tilt is a thing. There's a reason road rage is a thing. There's a reason domestic violence is a thing. There's a reason therapy is a thing. The reason is: turning off your negative emotions isn't as simple as telling yourself not to experience them, as you suggest. If that works for you, great. But it simply does not work for the vast majority of people in the world and in poker.

If it was as easy as telling yourself to keep your emotions in check (and yes, there is something to be said about stop-thoughts and self-talk), we wouldn't even be having the conversation about mental coaches as they wouldn't exist. Their mere existence, as well as the sale of their books, shows that there is a demand by people to learn techniques to better control their emotions at the table.
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Old 07-30-2017, 05:55 PM   #68
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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….and yet tilt happens, and it happens to a decent population of poker players. In addition, normal humans also get addicted to gambling, and to smoking and to drinking and they do this even though they know it’s bad for them. People often do not make good decisions in poker, experimental research or in life, and a good psychologist can help people to improve their decision making, or break an addiction.



Here is where we in broad agreement. When I played, I very rarely had issues with tilt, and if I did I was able to correct them with a limited amount of damage to my bankroll. I found it a fairly to understand Sklanksky bucks, to chalk off bad beats to bad luck, and move on.

However, that’s not true for everyone. Now, whether someone who can’t quite get their head around this concept is better served by being coached in math, poker or psychology is open to debate, and I personally tend to believe that for the majority of players, they would receive a better return on their investment hiring a poker coach than a psychologist.

That does not mean a decent percentage of poker players could not be helped by a psychologist. I would be surprised if I couldn’t sit down with pretty much any poker player for an hour and find areas where I felt they could make improvements – and I’m not just taking about exercising more, eating less, setting goals, etc. I’m talking about helping people to understand what makes them tick, to understand why both they and other people behave irrationally, and how they can use this information to help them make better decisions.

Whether that help is worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars is I guess a key part of the argument about mental coaches and poker. I doubt we would even be having this discussion if they were charging $50 an hour.
Hi Elrazor:

No. If the price was $50 an hour instead of up to $400 we would still be having this discussion, though perhaps not quite as intense. On the other hand, if these poker psychologists said things that made sense this discussion wouldn't exist. However, if this was the case they wouldn't have much business since there would be no need to use their services for very long -- I doubt that an hour would be needed.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 07-31-2017, 02:44 AM   #69
Elrazor
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
On the other hand, if these poker psychologists said things that made sense this discussion wouldn't exist. However, if this was the case they wouldn't have much business since there would be no need to use their services for very long -- I doubt that an hour would be needed.
Yes, but that's a slightly difference argument. There are two discussions relevant to the thread here. The first is whether psychology plays a role in poker, and the second is whether mental game coaches can address this gap.

I think it's fair to say there are some people who are clearly sceptical about the value of psychology in poker, and others who clearly believe it plays a role. My own view is that psychology plays a small significant role in poker, but I don't think we should over-emphasise it's importance compared with learning to play poker well.

The second argument relates to whether some of the mental game coaches really understand either poker or psychology well enough to help players with their performance. You, I and others have picked apart material from the available psychology literature in other threads, so you are correct in stating that some of the theoretical arguments made do not stand up to scrutiny.

Clearly, if you don't believe that psychology plays a role (or perhaps plays a role small enough that its insignificant), then you see no need for mental game coaches. If you do believe psychology plays a role, then we clearly move onto proposition number two - whether mental game coaches can make a difference.

I'm clear on point one, that psychology plays a role; I'm sceptical on point two.

Last edited by Elrazor; 07-31-2017 at 02:50 AM.
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Old 07-31-2017, 04:25 AM   #70
Mason Malmuth
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Wink Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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Originally Posted by Elrazor View Post
Yes, but that's a slightly difference argument. There are two discussions relevant to the thread here. The first is whether psychology plays a role in poker, and the second is whether mental game coaches can address this gap.

I think it's fair to say there are some people who are clearly sceptical about the value of psychology in poker, and others who clearly believe it plays a role. My own view is that psychology plays a small significant role in poker, but I don't think we should over-emphasise it's importance compared with learning to play poker well.

The second argument relates to whether some of the mental game coaches really understand either poker or psychology well enough to help players with their performance. You, I and others have picked apart material from the available psychology literature in other threads, so you are correct in stating that some of the theoretical arguments made do not stand up to scrutiny.

Clearly, if you don't believe that psychology plays a role (or perhaps plays a role small enough that its insignificant), then you see no need for mental game coaches. If you do believe psychology plays a role, then we clearly move onto proposition number two - whether mental game coaches can make a difference.

I'm clear on point one, that psychology plays a role; I'm sceptical on point two.
Hi Elrazor;

I wrote a whole book on the subject so I certainly think it does play a role. However, the role it plays is much different from what these poker mental coaches claim, and I find much of their material to be laughable.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:06 AM   #71
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

What do we suppose is the percentage of poker players that seek out advice on the mental game?

I suggest 3%.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:12 AM   #72
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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No book is perfect and I've never claimed mine is. It's easy upon reflection to make changes.
Would you like to expand on this point? if you were writing the book now, with the benefit of hindsight, what would you change in MGOP?

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Originally Posted by Howard Beale View Post
What do we suppose is the percentage of poker players that seek out advice on the mental game?

I suggest 3%.
It's an interesting point. Something like 1 in 3 people suffer from mental health issues at some point in the life, and I think playing poker for a living would only exacerbate these issues - especially online poker, where it's very easy to become socially isolated.

I think the vast majority of player would like to improve their mental game, and I would guess a decent proportion have read MGOP and similar.

As for how many actually approach a mental game coach, your estimate is probably fair, but probably increases as a function of how profitable a player is.
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:21 PM   #73
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

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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.
Indeed, I've learned the hard way that I should trust only those who have an academic degree in psychology.

To get my point across without direct advertising, let me just hint that I'm quite sure about who was Blumstein's 'mental coach', as he claimed this in a subscriber email newsletter:

Quote:
I got to drive down to Vegas to watch my client Scott Blumstein run through the WSOP Main Event final table to win poker's most prestigious event for $8,150,000.
Apparently, Scott had requested an in-person mental coaching session specifically for that final table.

That coach's only credential is a hypnotherapy diploma from a British 10-month / 150-hour course.

And he's been known for believing in 'positive psychology' (that it's good to tell yourself to play the A-game in each and every session) since the start of his career, e.g. that's what he was instructing in one of his early MP3s:

Quote:
I'd like you to see your bankroll. Now imagine your bankroll at the end of this tournament. How much are you going to win? What difference will that make to you, to your life? Really focus on that figure. Know that it can be yours, and that you'll do everything you can to ensure your success.
He also seems to treat poker like a physical sport where habits that serve as NLP anchors for peak performance (like always pulling up the right leg of your shorts before serving in tennis) matter a lot.

Anecdotally, he once instructed me to recall how I had been dressed when I was doing my best in the pre-poker life, and to dress the same way while playing online poker. I wasn't ready to put on a suit and a tie to grind online, lol. I basically stopped taking his private lessons after that, better late than never. Of course they didn't improve my theoretical knowledge; their only effect was that I didn't feel bad after screwing up (combined with running bad) at the table.

I think what he did with Blumstein was a correction of Scott's pessimism, certainly not to make Scott call like a donk when he wasn't having enough equity vs a reasonable range, but to make him less money-scared in general, as if the money at stake weren't.

Last edited by coon74; 08-01-2017 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:27 PM   #74
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

A bit of background and then I'll offer my opinion: I am comfortable playing any of the H.O.R.S.E games w/ Razz being my worst and I would be one of the decent players in any mid-stakes game but make no claim of greatness. I have been playing casino poker since Resorts opened the first room in A.C. in the early 90's. After gaining some technical experience - I have read a great many poker books - I realized that I had a mental game problem that I had to fix myself bec there was no one to help. These days I am nearly tilt free but realize that it can never be eliminated entirely.

Here are my conclusions as regards low and mid-stakes players mental game issues: Very few players understand what poker is. They don't know the basic elements of what makes for good play and they don't understand why they lose, or why they win for that matter. I could go on but if anyone is reading this thread they already know what I'm talking about and, out of the poker playing population, hardly anyone is reading this thread bec they simply don't realize how much better they could play if they sought out instruction in ANY area of poker. A quick story: There was a TAG reg w/ severe mental game problems sweating my play of A-A in a hand that I lost. He asked 'How can you stand it?' I answered 'it doesn't work the way that you think.' To which he replied 'How does it work?'

It is for players like that that I would recommend Mason's book as superior to anything else that I've read. I have Mr. Tendler's book and put it down half-read bec I thought that most of it, while good in general, didn't really apply all that much to poker. Mason's book answers the question 'How does it work?'

The low-limit players would be helped by Mason's book if they applied themselves but they've likely only read a couple of strat books and quickly forgot what they'd learned. And it doesn't much matter to them bec they are playing w/ disposable income at least for the most part. The real problem comes up w/ the players who are trying to make a living at it and the primary problem they suffer from is fear. Simply fear of going broke. Every hand lost, the ones that, as soon as they see a good starting hand, is 'supposed' to pad their bankroll but doesn't is like a physical and mental blow. Given enough blows and the fear of going broke becomes sufficient to throw them off of their game. I don't blame them, fwiw. Poker is a lousy way to make a living and we all know why, or should. The simple fact that you can play a year and not make anything being so different from a job says it all. I'm going to put the pros to the side bec they are so few and end w/ the recs:

They don't know that poker is played one hand at a time (leaving aside meta-game). They don't really understand variance, why it happens or even that if it wasn't for variance there'd be no game. Ok, they may know it at some level but not really. And this is the reason that I prefer Mason's book which I think can be summed up as 'understand poker better' and it does a good job of explaining 'how it works.'
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:32 PM   #75
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Re: For Those Defending the Poker Mental Coaches

By the way for those "coaches" out there who will now be incorporating the Sklansky Self Staking Solution into their lessons, make sure you name it properly and don't divulge it until the end lest they quit paying at the moment they hear it since that is all they need to know.
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