I got to touch base with a great guy and poker psychology coach, Jared Tendler. For those who don’t know Jared, he’s one of the leading minds on the mental game of poker, and has written two books on that subject entitled the Mental Game of Poker 1 and 2. He’s worked with hundreds of top poker pros deal with stress, tilt, and mental blocks that are holding their personal games back. I got to ask him some questions about his craft, and what he thinks holds most poker players back from reaching the success they truly desire.
Me: How long have you been coaching poker players now, and can you fill us in on some of your background leading up to taking on poker clients to coach?
Jared Tendler: Amazing to say, but I’ve now been coaching players for over 7 years—nearly 400 players from 40 countries. Prior to that I was working with golfers and never imagined coaching poker players. That was until I met Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt on the golf course. He was a former pro golfer who knew the importance of sports psychology, so when he ran into some big tilt issues going for SNE in 2007 he contacted me for coaching. My background is as a licensed therapist, so I have a master’s degree in counseling psychology and spent 2 years (3200 hours) of supervised practice as a traditional therapist to get my license. I never intended on practicing as a therapist, but I wanted to understand how they solved mental and emotional issues so I could bring a deeper methodology to golf psychology. Eventually I did that for Dusty and all of my subsequent poker clients.
Me: We understand you’ve been an avid golfer, and you came into the psychology side of coaching through your own experiences with golf. Can you let us in on some insights about your own game that led you into coaching the psychological side of poker and other sports?
Jared: Very simply, I was choking under the pressure of playing big time tournaments. I was 3-time all-american and won 9 tournaments in college, but I was choking in the major national events with some of the elite professionals/amateurs. Sport psychology at the time (1997-1998) helped my game, but didn’t stop me from choking. I knew there had to be an answer and set out to find one…which I did!
Me: What are some areas that poker players struggle with the most in regards to tilt?
Jared: Awareness. You can’t stop a problem you can’t see in real time. Many players don’t even realize they’re tilting until the problem has gotten really bad, such as busting from a tournament or blowing a bunch of stacks in a cash game. The good thing is that tilt happens in predictable patterns and for predictable reasons. So to begin getting better at controlling tilt you simply need to start studying your patterns of tilt.
Me: Do you have a couple of recommended strategies for dissipating tilt when players recognize the onset of it during game play?
Jared: The most important step is to recognize that you’re on the verge of tilting BEFORE you actually go on tilt. If you’re tilting it means that your mind is malfunctioning and that means you’re losing the mental control you need to control tilt. So, it’s critical that you recognize your pattern of tilt so you can spot tilt before it destroys your mind…and your bankroll. After you’ve recognized that you’re tilting, take a few deep breaths to create some mental separation between your emotions and your logic. Then, do what I call “Injecting Logic” which means repeating a prepared statement designed to help you think your way through tilt. You use your mind to control tilt, and your mind needs logic that it can use to keep those emotions back. So, for example, you could say something like “Fish have to win in order to be profitable” after losing a pot in a particularly sick way, or “Mistakes are going to happen, the bigger mistake is losing control and making more mistakes,” after a boneheaded mistake that you make. The key is to prepare your statement and review it ahead of time. That way it’ll be easy to use when you need it.
Me: What do you think about the current state of online poker in the U.S?
Jared: It sucks. I’ve been optimistic for a return for some time, but right now it’s still not a viable option for many people and that’s unfortunate.
Me: Are you able to keep up with your golf game, and do you get to play much poker?
Jared: Well, I have a 6 month old now, so I don’t get to play much golf. But I’ve committed to playing more tournaments next year, in part because I want to test myself again. Over the years I’ve gotten good at turning my game on without a lot of play/practice and I want to get even better at that, and in tournament conditions. Unfortunately, I’m playing even less poker these days too.
Me: What are some upcoming projects or books that you’re working on that you can share with us?
Jared: I’ve spent so much time over the last 4 or 5 years working on new projects that I’m instead working to expand the reach of my coaching. So I’ve started working with golfers again—I just got back from San Francisco where I spent 3 days working with a top Junior players. And, I’m also working with day traders and professionals in the investment/finance world. All three as so similar when you get down it.
I’d recommend checking out some of Jared’s books from his site. Jared has a free audio book promotion that you can checkout from his site below as well:
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We offer the highest EV poker software, and training tools available on the net, recommended and used by today’s top poker players are the world. We’ve been doing this since 2009 with the emphasis on offer unique and creative poker software that will help any level of poker player be a more thoughtful and successful player at the table. We’d invite you to check these titles out:
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