Strategy with Kristy: Jared Tendler on the Mental Game of Poker
Jared Tendler is the author of The Mental Game of Poker and has coached more than 200 players from around the world. Equipped with a masters degree in psychology and years of experience as a performance coach, Tendler has become one of poker’s most respected teachers of the mental side of poker, which includes tilt, emotional control, confidence, motivation, and fear.
For this edition of Strategy with Kristy, brought to you by South Point, Tendler comes on the show for the first of a two-part interview. He discusses how to approach improving your mental game, the Adult Learning Model, and more.
Here is a snippet from the interview:
“There is so much to learn, and sometimes, when you become more aware of how much more there is, that can be overwhelming. It can cause you to do what you’re learning not as well. I think it’s really important to create some order with what [you’re working on]. Because there is a step-by-step process to reach unconscious competence, you’re goal becomes to not try to learn everything all at once because the mind can’t handle it,” Tendler said.
He continued, “Instead, try to focus on key elements of your game and things that you know are the biggest priorities right now. Do that and do that consistently, even if you know that there is other stuff to improve on, focus on one thing at a time, especially with big concepts. You can really do much more than that. Once you really master that, then a whole other world opens up, and then you can take on some other smaller things. Then, you can do it far more easily because you’ve mastered that concept. Let’s say it’s table position. An important component to having good preflop play is understanding the importance of position. So, once you understand that and the complexity of it, then the next concepts open up.”
In the book, you talk about how all players have a range for how well they are playing at any given time. A player has an A, B, and C game. Can you talk about those ranges and why it is important for players to understand that a range exists?
So many people have this illusion that it’s possible to be at your absolute best all the time, and they are constantly striving for that. But, in my mind, it’s really impossible to do that. It’s extraordinarily difficult to even try to do that consistently. When you’re in the process of learning something, you have to make mistakes. It’s impossible to not make mistakes.
There’s always going to be this gradation, this range of your ability. And that’s assuming you’re mentally perfect. There’s always going to be a range for that, as well. If you get a little bit of poor sleep, you’re mind is not going to be quite as sharp. There’s going to be things going on at the table, either distracting you or causing some frustration.
There are always these subtle nuances that are just part of the game and honestly, part of any game, that make it impossible to constantly be playing at an absolute peak. It is possible to try and prepare yourself to do it more consistently, but that takes a lot of understanding about the things that are going to throw your game off. And also, it takes a real understanding of the things you’re learning so that you can be prepared to make the corrections accurately and stay playing at a high level.