Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Poker Mindset

"The Poker Mindset," by Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger, outlines an approach for poker players to take once they have a good idea of the game's strategy. The book goes beyond gametime tactics to examine the mental skill set that top players possess: emotional control, making correct decisions, balancing poker with real life, and managing a bankroll.

This book is practical, readable and doesn't contain any incorrect information that I could find. It's like a users manual for how to approach the game. Many of the concepts are familiar, but they're more clearly defined and explained within the text. I won't dwell on the specifics except for a couple of ideas I particularly liked.

The book talks about how a poker player is more at war with himself than with his opponents at the table.

You are your own worst enemy. If you know how to adjust to game conditions and respond to your opponents maneuvers, the primary obstacle to beating the game is overcoming your own tendencies that may lead you astray. These tendencies include poor self-control, a failure to execute even when you know what's right, complacency and lack of observation.

It reminds me of how my mom used to tell me not to worry about what other people were doing, and to only be concerned with myself.

At the table, I play better when I'm concentrating on making the best play in each situation rather than fearing the worst.

The book also calls attention to a couple of tilty flaws I have where I'll sometimes play shorter sessions to "secure my win" and longer sessions when trying to get even. Obviously chasing isn't a good idea, nor is leaving a profitable table just because I'm ahead. I've rededicated myself to a two-hour-per-session time limit so I can stay fresh and better detach myself from the money involved.

Everyone tilts sometimes, and anyone who says he doesn't is either lying to you or lying to himself. "The Poker Mindset" helps identify mental errors and suggests ways to counter them. I recommend it as an essential book for any studious poker player.


Fuel55 said...

Sounds somewhat like this:

Chad C said...

That is one of the best poker books I have ever read. It really puts things in perspective. Unfortunately after a month of an almost zen like view of poker, 193 bad beats later I start to tilt again no matter what :)

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

LoL @ Chad's comment.

I have to say, I was really unimpressed with this book. And that's not at all to say I don't need to work on tilt. I just didn't get anything really new or useful out of this book.

Still waiting to do my post about SPR from "Professional No Limit Holdem", Gnome. I will get to it one of these days.

Greylocks said...

They get some math concepts wrong. Their definition of "spurious regression" isn't even close to right, and their whole discussion of bankroll fluctuations is riddled with conceptual errors. Like a lot of poker writers, they confuse expected value - a prediction of future theoretical results - with actual historical results, which leads them to say silly things such as "there's no such thing as a downswing." If you ignore the math issues, however, it's a pretty good book on why people don't play as well as they could.

AnguilA said...

I just finished reading it too, and I also take a lot of value out of it.

The funniest part though is that I have decided to also do 2-hour cash game sessions as an overall strategy from now on!

I hope it works for both of us!

SubZero said...

Can I jump on the bandwagon and say I also will be doing 2 hour sessions?

I read this book before christmas and I found it very helpful. Understanding the psychological impact of winning and losing, as well as thinking about the psychology of other players is invaluable.

If you can practice the control and discipline they espouse in this book, it can do real wonders for your game. Mine certainly improved....