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The biggest influence on my game to date
on 21 October 2011
I've been planning to give a review of this book for a long time but I haven't got around to it until now. There are two reasons for this - I'm up the walls in college and also I haven't finished it yet
I've decided to give a review on the chapters I have read because of how much they've helped my poker game and me as a person. I've read chapters 1-4 comprehensively. I've read them three or four times and when I get some free time this week I'm going to read them again. This is the main reason I haven't finished the book yet.
I think the most important thing to understand about this book is that it really is a book for the mental game. It's not just a book to deal with tilt. It deals with all aspects of your mental approach to poker. A quick read through the contents inside the front cover will signify this.
The main thing this book has shown me so far is how I've been approaching the learning side of the game completely wrong. In Ireland we have a saying, `He's a working fool'. It's a phrase to describe someone who is all work and bluster but never seems to get anything done. Well I felt like a working fool after reading chapter two.
I am someone who has no issue working on my game. I read books, I watch Cardrunners videos and I post on twoplustwo as much as I can. I've always made a point of trying to improve - I suspect my personality traits are fairly common among twoplustwo users.
The thing about my learning strategy was I was always trying to learn new things - every day. I'd load up a set of sngs with so much new info clogging my mind that I wouldn't know what to do. I always assumed the day would come when old information would make sense and new information would stick automatically; I just needed to persevere. After a year and a half of this I still hadn't realised how wrong my strategy was.
Chapter two, Foundation, has completely changed my approach to the game. I can honestly say there is something in nearly every line of that chapter that hits home for me. After reading certain parts of it I felt like slapping my head off a door for being so stupid in my approach to poker.
Taking his advice for warming up as one aspect to discuss -I always knew I needed to warm up to play, the problem was I always did it during the first hour of play. I would be aware I was making some basic errors but knew my play would improve after the first hour - my brain was essentially taking time to adjust to the game. It never dawned on me to prepare for this first hour before I played and ensure I wasn't making basic errors or repeat mistakes.
Chapter two gave me the resources to learn and have an uncluttered mind but chapters three and four (Emotion, Strategy) are the chapters that dominate my thinking in-game. When I play now I have a really close eye on my mental state and I am alert instantly when I feel it slipping. These chapters exposed flaws in my mental game I never knew existed. If I'm honest I thought I only had some minor mental game issues to begin with but these chapters have exposed some huge weaknesses.
The biggest of these is how wound up I get during play, particularly towards the end of a set. Again this was a weakness I was always aware of but had come to accept. I thought it was just a facet of my personality that couldn't be changed. I would say it was the biggest hindrance to my development as a player. I would get wound up in a game, make mistakes and afterwards this would lead to a sort of mini-depression I would tell myself this is part of my personality I have to live with, but always knew that it was holding me back hugely.
Working with these chapters I now realise there is always a trigger point for this mind-set. I have to be mindful when that trigger goes off - not get pissed because I realise I've been wound up for the past twenty minutes.
The awareness of my mental game in poker is now transferring into my everyday life and I am extremely grateful for that. It's helping me in my approach to social situations (which I suck at) learning in college and countless other situations.
So that's what The Mental Game of Poker has done for me.
I also must commend Jared and Barry for their willingness to engage with readers on Twitter. I'm fairly sure neither of them has yet failed to answer a question thrown at them.
Thanks for the good work guys and hopefully this is the first of many mental game books.