年9月3日 Hundreds of poker players have turned to mental game coach Jared Tendler's revolutionary approach to help them play their best, no matter. “Jared has keen insight on the mental game of poker.” — Allen “The Chainsaw” Kessler. “Jared Tendler cares about people. That's why he is so good at helping. Feb 4, Even those who play poker completely as a hobby may still enjoy the feeling 2c /4c cash games The Mental Game of Poker (Jared Tendler).
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If you are having issues with the mental side of your poker game, I recommend “Jared Tendler is a pioneer of the poker mental game. No one else even. Editorial Reviews. Review. It is the only book I recommend. My buddy Tony Gregg (The Jared Tendler, M.S., LMHC, was a mental game coach for golfers on the PGA and LPGA tours before he became the leading mental game expert. ferent from what you've heard about the. “mental game.” I'm a mental game coach who has been working with poker players for three years, having previously.
If you found a lot of detail. Dweck draws on a huge range of examples from the world of sport. In the experiment. Tilting control, coping with variance, and emphasis on ways of learning and incorporating newly learned material into your game are all major points of emphasis. I think about the game all the time and am continually trying to get better. Folks hitting trips on the turn against an over pair. There is no superior form of feedback that alone can help you maneuver through the immense amount of uncertainty inevitable in poker.
Beat the Bots in Online Poker! Playing Cash or Tournament Poker Games. Learn to Play Poker Today. I am proud that most of the material in my first poker strategy book, The Mental Game of Poker, holds up six years after it was published.
However, there is one thing I would update. I should have made a bigger deal of the Mental Hand History, my primary tool for helping players find the underlying cause of their tilt, fear, motivation or confidence problems. I chose the name because I wanted to encourage players to approach mental game improvement in the same structured and logical way they were already doing when solving technical mistakes.
Today, clients regularly send me their Mental Hand History — sometimes a s a mental game of poker PDF - to review, just as they send a poker hand history to their technical coach. Sometimes even bigger. But many players believe that control is their only way of dealing with mental game issues and it causes them to:. The excessive emotions you feel when you are on a downswing, make a mistake, or face aggressive opponents are a symptom of a deeper flaw in your approach to the game. The emotion is not the problem.
The real problems are the deeper flaws like, an illusion of control, flaws in your view of the learning process and wishing. When you master the correction to that deeper flaw you automatically react better to a downswing, mistake or tough opponent—even under the most difficult situations. An end to your problem. Not a permanent job tending to them.
The Mental Hand History is a series of steps that you can take to get at the root cause of your problem, and come up with a solution to it. Here are the steps along with some additional instructions. But they might make more sense after seeing some examples below. Step 1.
Define the problem or mistake in as much detail as you can. This includes the thoughts, emotions, physical reactions, changes to your play, and actions connected with the problem. Be sure to take the time to give an accurate description because the quality of your answers in the following steps are determined by what you write here. Step 2. Explain why it makes logical sense that you would have this problem or why you would think, feel, or act that way.
The goal of this step is to understand why you have this problem. Nothing in the mental game happens randomly, so there is a predictable reason that you have this problem. Push yourself to think a bit deeper and explain why.
Step 3. Explain why the logic in step 2 is flawed. Here is where we get to the real cause of your problem. As a novice in solving mental game problems this step may be challenging. Do the best you can and consult The Mental Game of Poker if you need help. Step 4. Come up with a correction to that flawed logic. The correction needs to focus on the flawed logic and not standard answers that you already know.
Step 5. Explain why that correction is correct. This step is a bonus, but it gets to the theory behind the correction and that can make it stick better in your mind. Here are two examples, but also be sure to watch the video. I analyze Mental Hand Histories that were submitted by players for my feedback.
One reason poker players often struggle to understand how to get in the zone is that they confuse it with running well. While running well, all your decisions work out and poker seems easy.
The same thing happens in the zone. This is in part due to it being experienced in different ways by each. Any thoughts of the past or future are purely strategic and involve reflecting on past decisions and planning future streets. For some players, time flies by; for others, it slows down dramatically.
The zone is a state of heightened mental functioning, awareness, and concentration that allows poker players to perform at the highest pos- sible levels. It can be mystifying, but in looking at sound theory, logic, and scientific research, it can be brought back down to size. As this happens, a path for you to reach it consistently begins to emerge. Energy The zone cannot be reached without the right amount of energy. This is true in a mentally demanding game like poker, just as it is in a physically demand- ing sport such as basketball.
The Yerkes-Dodson Law1 illustrates the direct relationship between energy level i. As you can see in the chart below, maximizing your performance does not mean maximiz- ing your energy level. You need to find the level that works best for you. The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit- formation. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology When the brain is overloaded with energy or emotion, higher brain functions shut down.
This means that the excessive energy associated with tilt, overconfidence, and anxiety has the power to cause your performance to suffer. As your energy level increases up the left side of the curve, or as it decreases up the right side, higher brain functions and the quality of your play steadily improve. The goal is to find your ideal middle ground; call it the Goldilocks level of energy. The first person to research differences in the levels of energy that lead to the zone was renowned sport psychologist, Yuri Hanin.
He found that some athletes get into the zone when they feel relaxed, others with moderate levels of anxiety, and the rest need high levels of energy. This variation means that players who need to be relaxed to get into the zone will play much worse when exposed to the high levels of anxiety that other players actually thrive on.
The opposite is true as well. Players who prefer high levels of intensity will lose their mental edge when they are too relaxed. Ultimately, you have to figure out what works best for you. Emotions and athletic performance: European Yearbook of Sport Psychology 1: Many factors contribute to your level of energy and influence your ability to reach the zone.
Understanding each one is crucial. The major factors are:. Physical needs. Better rest, a healthier diet, and more exercise have all been proven to increase overall energy levels. Consider gathering some data to see if there is a connection between the quality of your play and your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.
If you begin to notice a pattern, strive to make some small improve- ments and look to targeted resources about diet, sleep, and exercise for more advice. While a proper amount of sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise can have many benefits to general health and wellbeing, their importance in getting to the zone is often overstated. Again, your ability to play in the zone depends on the level of energy that is right for you.
Players who radically improve their diets and start exercising frequently can struggle at first to handle the dramatic increase in mental functioning that occurs as a result.
Improving these habits is never a bad thing, just be prepared for the adjustment period that may accompany them. Emotional state. Emotions can have an important impact on your energy levels and give you the boost you need to reach the zone. The pressure. When a player is feeling inspired by, for exam- ple, a friend who just won a big tournament, that inspiration can light a fire within them and raise their energy to zone levels.
Your mind will utilize any source of energy, even an emotion with a sometimes-negative connotation like anger. If you are feeling bored or unmotivated, anger can serve as a mental boost to kick your mind back into gear. It is important to realize that although these emotions can have positive implications on your game, they should not be relied upon as a consistent and reliable way to play in the zone.
To utilize them in this way at all, you have to be able to exercise a high level of mental and emotional con- trol. It is much more effective to discover ways to affect and control your energy levels from within. Motivation is a powerful source of energy, and goals provide structure and direction for that energy.
The clearer your goals, the more intense and well-directed your motivation will be. When you have weak- nesses in your goals, your energy gets dispersed in too many directions and your motivation suffers as a result.
When you are able to estab- lish your exact targets, you can then effectively focus all of your motiva- tion and energy on reaching them. And in doing this, you significantly increase your chances of success. The topic of goals is vast, and will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 6. Degree of challenge. While playing in soft games is often the most profitable way to game-select, keep in mind that you need to be suf- ficiently challenged in order to reach the zone.
One of the most pop- ular theories about the zone comes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychology professor and the author of the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience3. New York, NY: When your skills are low and the challenge is low. In other words. Csikszentmihalyi asserts that in order to achieve this state of flow. Adapted from Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. In addition. When skilled poker players underestimate their skill.
Learning For many players. The right belief or perspective is powerful enough to influence your ability to reach the zone. The mind is a powerful tool when used effectively. As you can see. This can cause an excessive increase in energy that could have been avoided with a more accurate perspective of their game.
When players overestimate their skill level. Later in the chapter. Believing they have more skill than is actually true also underestimates the degree of challenge posed by their competition.
This hunch. This highlights the power of perspective. There are many instances of players who raised their games to incredibly high levels despite being severely outmatched. The more you study the influence these five factors have on your energy. This lowers their energy level. See the chart on the next page. The good decks were of lower value. The proof comes from an interesting study called the Iowa Gambling Task4. Their goal was to win as much money as possible.
Each time they selected a card. Where does that knowledge come from? Are you highly skilled. Curious if this stress reaction was registered consciously.. The answers to these questions center around uncon- scious learning.
The iowa gambling task and the somatic marker hypothesis: What the participants were not told was that the decks were stacked. This was a ridiculous question at the time. When stressed. In the experiment. The research showed that. This is what the researchers used to identify when the body was experiencing stress. Unconscious learning. Since unconscious learning is by definition unconscious.
The participants had no idea that their bodies had begun 4 Bechara. This effect continued throughout the rest of the study.
At that point. The zone makes this knowledge accessible and usable. What started as a small. Participants continued picking cards. The ideal level of It was as though the knowledge about how to beat the game was on the tip of their tongue.
Anticipatory SCR level for the good and bad decks The Iowa Gambling Task proves that there is constant data collection and pattern recognition happening below the level of our awareness.
When you reach this level of knowledge. Doyle Brunson. You know there are so many factors that can go into making a poker decision.
In order to do this. In a vacuum. There are two ways to reach this level: Level 2: Conceptual Competence. The next step is to actually become aware of this data and eventually be able to apply it in your sessions. Level 1: Intangible Competence. The knowledge you have at this level is composed of the same unconscious data that was highlighted by the Iowa Gambling Task.
Level 3: Conscious Competence. A-game journal. Consistent access to new Intangible Competence is necessary to reach the zone. Level 4: Unconscious Competence. Recording video or audio notes can work as well. The A-game journal is a tool that simplifies and accelerates that process. Here are some ideas for how to get the most from this tool: The alternative method is to learn from others by watching videos.
You have done sufficient work to understand the concept and can now apply it on a regular basis. You can also talk this out with other players. Some of what you write about will make sense right away. The reality is it can take weeks. In order to gain that access. These are likely to be the toughest hands to explain. Trying to force an answer can lead you to arrive at an incorrect conclusion.
You may still be unable to conceptualize why your play was correct. Merely attempting to access this knowledge will prove to be helpful in digesting some of the accumulated data. Revisit it after you have new ideas. Like the participants in the Iowa Gambling Task. Over time. Consider quickly writing down your thoughts without analyzing them any fur- ther until after the session. If you divert your focus too much.
To prevent data accumulation after a session. Converting data to the next level of learning can help to free up the necessary space to acquire new intangible competence. After a session in which you reached the zone. Encouragement in the A-game journal comes in the form of regular attention.
The Data Stream The action in poker flows like a stream of data with an endless supply of betting patterns. This slows down the learning process and prevents you from regularly getting into the zone.
There is no one perfect way to use the A-game journal. The process is a bit like a baby learning to walk.
The mind absorbs a lot of data while playing poker. The methods you use depend on your level of performance. The A-game journal is not only a great tool for keeping your mind clear so you can consistently get into the zone. While the flow of data is constant. Whether watching a movie or playing a hand of poker. In the next section.
Chances are. As your skills in poker evolve. As that happens. Correcting tactical mistakes uses the same strat- egy. To see the evolution of your game. After taking a bad beat. Those immediate corrections minimize the accumulation of data. This process can be illustrated in something as basic as watching a movie. If tactical and mental leaks are left alone and additional layers of thought are piled on.
When you watch a movie several times. From a mental side. This is because you have access to your full range of knowledge. After learning more about the zone. Go slow and just process everything. I would try and talk myself into it by saying. In the tour- nament just before the main event—the 10K Heads-Up—I felt like I was outplaying a very good opponent. I was really motivated to get my brain functioning at the highest possible level and was willing to do whatever I could. I either miss a crucial piece of information or am just not able to process it.
That meant making decisions slower and really trying to take in every single piece of information possible—how quickly did the person tap the table when he checked. That meant not only improving tactically and mentally. For me. I was really going all out to play my best. I had made a deep run and played really well against some incredibly tough competition. Whenever a non-aggres- sive player became aggressive in hands within close proximity.
But that time. I was dealt pocket jacks preflop and opened in late position. Picking up on all these small details that usually would go over my head. This was a moment where I felt like I was playing at the highest level I could possibly play. And now I was about to base my decision on it. James Bord—the eventual winner—reraised me.
I think what was so surprising to me about this hand was how much information that was so subtle managed to help me make a big fold. James was a tight player who rarely reraised and had recently reraised me preflop. I noticed so much more going on in each hand. Being mainly an online player. I stayed committed to my plan and played really well against them.
I tended to interpret the latter as strong. I gave them way too much credit for putting me on an exact hand or figuring out what I was up to. It was just a little piece of information that. I decided to fold my jacks and he ended up telling me later that he had pocket aces. Throughout my career. I had an active image at the time. But there was another impor- tant factor that helped me decide. One hand in particular stands out.
I looked at him and realized he looked and acted exactly the same as he did during a hand two days before when he had aces. I had a real problem playing against players that I really respected.
Fueled by a balance of challenge and skill. Gaining an understanding of what being in the zone means specifically for you sets the target that all your efforts will be centered around. Using the basic theory around these factors as a foundation. They give up a lot of mental game edge by failing to recognize the subtle differences in their levels of performance. This profile is not something you complete once and never refer to again.
After studying your experience in the zone. The best way to capture and analyze these differences is by creating a zone profile.
The zone profile can be so eye-opening for some players that just by completing it. Here are some questions to get you started: Do you feel calm. It becomes a living document that first serves as a baseline. How long does it typically last? When adding new notes. Work on it for several weeks. On the other hand. In fact. Try and gather the best information you can find. Be sure to update your zone profile after each time you play in the zone. This confirms that your initial assessment was correct.
It is important that you take notes about the new instance before review- ing your existing profile. Here are some tips to help you complete your zone profile: Do your best to distinguish the difference between playing at a high level and playing in the zone.
Gathering high-quality information could take up to a month. Faster recognition of when you are slipping out of the zone means you can get back into it more easily. After several hours. In poker. Zone Routine In life. Many people take for granted how many routines and habits are ingrained into the fabric of their lives until their routines are disrupted. Imagine how complex your days would be if you had to think about each mundane task: If you have ever moved into a new home.
Increased focus often provides an instant boost in the quality of your mental game.. You no longer easily know where things are. Even something as simple as making a morning cup of coffee becomes harder since your coffee. A well-defined target is easier to hit. The changes to your routines and habits are a big reason why moving is so stressful. When this association becomes strong enough. Stay focused on build- ing a longer track record that really proves you can get there consistently.
When you get into the zone more frequently as a result of your routine. You can see the evolution of certain qualities of the zone. With a lot of attention being given to playing in the zone. Playing in the zone is tough enough under ideal circumstances. If you have struggled in the past to add these elements to your game. Your zone routine must include two essential components: As soon as your routine becomes stale.
Look at any successful athlete. One major reason is that their routine puts their minds in a bubble where nothing can distract them from focusing on their performance. While you want a routine that is consistent. Once inside that bubble. That dependence compromises your mental edge and practically guarantees that you will not play in the zone.
Warming up before you play and cooling down after- wards eventually need to become such a natural part of playing poker that you do them automatically. In the early stages of develop- ing your warm-up and cool-down.
With enough time and effort. Your poker routine serves the same purpose. If your warm-up needs work. Consider adding the following steps to your warm-up in the order below: The goal. While many players have a structured warm-up. Remove and minimize the potential for distractions. These can be a combination of tactical. A warm- up is simply what you do just prior to the start of playing poker: Review long-term goals and set short-term goals for the day.
You can also set results and quality goals. Once you have your goals clear in your mind.
Begin by reviewing your C-game. As you probably suspect. Write them out so that you can check them off before each time you play. Be prepared to improve the back end of your range—your C-game— every time you play. One essential short-term goal is to play in the zone. Depending on the environment in which you typically play. You need to do the same thing with both your tactical and mental game. You will then be ready to move on to reviewing and setting goals.
If they are too high or too challeng- ing. This is similar to what most professional athletes do prior to every game. They get themselves ready to win by reviewing the competi- tion. You can do this by reviewing the following: The last step of the warm-up is not as essential as the previous ones.
When athletes visualize an action involved in their sport. Visualization is often portrayed as a tool to become instantly successful.. P Imagery in mental practice. Human Kinetics Publishers. This helps to clear and steady the mind. Clearly this is not the case. Many even report sensing their bodies move during visual- ization.
In Advances in Sport Psychology. Even though the value of visualization has often been oversold. For example. If this were true. Reviewing these keeps the corrections to these errors in the front of your mind. It is important for players to realize that imagining what they want to happen is not enough to. In sports. PGA Tour play- ers often envision playing the first few holes while warming up on the driving range.
If a new player uses visualization to warm up. Just remember that you must have also acquired enough skill to be proficient in controlling tilt. Zone Cool-down Just as every player has a warm-up before they play.
They can also use it to improve mental game issues such as tilt. They picture the first hole in their minds. They can prepare for specific tactical goals. One way players can use visualization is to imagine being in a situation where they tend to make mistakes. While there is a lack of research on the use of visualization in mental sports.
With visualization. Often players look at their biggest winners and losers. The mind requires a similar level of maintenance in order to function at high levels.
You also could have taken an emotional battering due to wild swings in variance. Did you improve upon any areas of weakness. This can be done by following these steps: Did you notice a new sign or cause of tilt. To prevent this from happening. They help their muscles recover by icing and stretching them. Mental game issues such as tilt can accumulate and carry over into the next time you play. If your head has ever been swirling so much after a session that you struggle to fall asleep.
If you had a particularly intense session. Hands that really make you think are a better indication that there is something to learn. While playing. Do the same if you reached the zone and fell out of it. You may be able to avoid doing a proper cool-down and ride the momentum of good play for several days or even longer.
Rather than have your warm-up and cool-down become mundane. If you are one of those players who rarely utilizes a cool-down. Examples of this include jumping into a game before an amazing seat is taken. Routine Adjustments There are certain scenarios in poker that require adjustments to your rou- tine. A proper cool-down is one of the most effective tools available to poker players.
An easy way to ensure it stays current is to have the information collected in your cool-down feed into your next warm-up. Unpredictability and breaks in the action are not excuses that justify skipping your routine. The mental weight of the accumu- lated and undigested unconscious data will be too much for your mind to handle. Tennis players This is something that athletes regularly have to deal with.
Most players already have a break routine that includes talking about hands with their friends. You may even decide to wait for the blinds to come around just so you can do your warm-up. Start the day with a big warm-up like you normally would. The aim here is to build on that In order to maintain the highest level of play throughout the tournament.
Here are some ways to adjust your routine to these types of situations: When a game is too good to pass up. To deal with this type of situation. Online heads-up play. Then you can compensate with a longer cool-down. Some games might be so good that you have to jump into them right away before the seat is taken.
For a cool-down. Sustaining high-level play throughout the long grind of a large-field tournament. Tournament play. Since there can be a long wait before you get action.
As you now know. You go against your gut and know instantly it was a mistake. The rest of this chapter is devoted to helping you understand the most common problems and prevent them from get- ting in your way.
You make a few mistakes.
You simply lack the skill to realize how it was predictable. When in the zone. While the information contained in this section can help you to reach the zone more consistently. While the cause of your fall from the zone may seem random. Caught in a downward spiral. If you spot one or two hands that you want to talk about. The longer you wait. If you have read TMGP. This is why early recognition is the most important piece of the puzzle.
There are a few differences. Step 1: In addition to major mental game issues such as tilt. Think back to previous hands. Follow these steps to create your A. The level of detail you recorded determines the num- ber of categories.
It will also help you to see the differences between each level of your performance in an organized way. This is not suggesting that you put yourself in spots where you could lose a lot of money just for the sake of evaluating your game. If you found a lot of detail. A great resource for improving recognition is an A. If you found less detail. What is your mental game like and what are the obvious mistakes you make when at your absolute worst? Seeing the differences between my Completing this A.
If you have two or more mental game issues. All of the subsequent steps in this process depend on it. That way. Without this crucial first step of recognition. The big thing for me was awareness. This makes finding new details easier. Looking back on it now.
This gave me so much control over my game and allowed me to prove that I was making real progress with my mental game. Below are my old and current A. Within a few seconds. Just having the awareness of the range in my mental game and poker game gave me all the signs I needed to know when my game was off. I feel like I have one or two extra tools in my back pocket.
I was able to get in the zone much more frequently. The knowledge I have from working with my A. After call- ing this out and working on it over many months. To build my awareness at first. I wrote a few notes on the back of a card protector and was constantly looking at it as a reminder.
The big change was in my C-game. That alone was brilliant and really helped me avoid big mistakes. I could recognize that I had started to play badly. Last year. I have extra knowledge about my game that not many players have. My A-game is only slightly better. I say to myself. When I sit down at a table full of good regs. Injecting logic. Steady Your Mind When your game slips out of the zone.
We often watch athletes dig deep within themselves to find a spark that gets them back on track after the momentum has shifted against them. This is the essence of inject- ing logic. One reason to try using a deep breath is that it can be done quickly.
A deep breath is one way to do this. Step 3: Inject Logic. If you find that standing up. Implementing this technique can give you the mental boost necessary to break through the problem and get back into the zone. The purpose of a deep breath is not relaxation.
When they find that spark. In interviews afterwards. When minor mental game issues. Injecting goals. You start to feel pressure as you get close to the final table.
Every time you play. When you get bored. You get overconfident after winning several pots in a row and start play- ing too many hands.
This allows it to dissipate enough for you to refocus and get back into the zone. Here are some examples of how injecting logic can help: You get frustrated after getting coolered by a weak player.
When you slip out of the zone. Step 5: Repeat When Necessary Once the door to exit the zone has been opened. Success will eventually come after Be prepared with a sampling of things that inspire you: Injecting inspiration.
Keep this list easily accessible with your injecting logic statements. In your A. Read and connect your actions to them. Step 4: Strategic Reminder The previous three steps are occasionally enough to get you back into the zone. Sometimes remembering your goals is not enough. For this reason. If you end Note that the more severe the problems are. To speed up the process. That means you are avoiding B. The good thing is that even if your attempts to get back into the zone fail.
If you have already read TMGP. T HE ZO NE you gain stronger recognition of the subtle nuances in both your tacti- cal and mental game and have found injecting logic statements.
As they con- tinue to mount. While in the zone. While you may not be affected by major mental game issues. Do you: You may never have suffered from full-blown monkey tilt. Tilting is far and away the most common mental game issue in poker. Since tilt tends to be the most prominent mental game issue in poker.
Having too little confidence is as big of a problem as hav- ing too much. When triggered by a certain event. Accumulated emotion.
Lacking enough motivation is a major problem in poker. When issues such as tilt. Accumulated emotion is a hidden resource hog. Solving Accumulated emotion—or emotional bag- gage. The more emotion you accumulate.
If this is a common occurrence. Overexcitement and overconfidence can make it hard to stay in the zone. You have a finite amount of energy with which to play. Fatigue Some amount of your mental energy is burned up with every decision you make at the poker table—tough or easy.
This builds mental endurance. They often play in the zone for a chunk of time at the start of their session or tournament—maybe 45 to 75 min- utes—and then their game rapidly deteriorates. Wide Range Some players are unable to stay in the zone for long periods of time because their range is too wide. After a big meal. The solution to bloated brain is twofold and needs to happen both dur- ing and after play. The reason they are burning so much energy is they have an excessive amount of knowledge that has yet to be mastered.
The more likely cause is that the gap between their A-game and C-game is too wide. This issue is subtle and hard for players to identify.
Bloated Brain When too much data accumulates. When your mind becomes bloated with an excess of data. During this time.
In order for them to play in the zone. During play. You can narrow the width of your range by focusing on improving your current C-game. During these breaks, you can reduce some of this accumulation by tak- ing notes, meditating, doing some deep breathing, or taking a walk. Mentally taking a step back for as little as 30 seconds can have a positive impact. The idea of a pit stop is all about taking away mental stimulation for a moment and allowing what has already accumulated to be absorbed.
In tournaments, these are already scheduled, but in cash games, consider setting an alarm as a reminder to take a break. Ideally, the timing of that alarm is set based on the amount of time it typi- cally takes you to start feeling tired. You should study your game first to determine your own patterns and then set the alarm accordingly.
Completing a proper cool-down is the second part of the solution. If accumulated data is not dealt with at the end of your session, it too will carry over, and your mind will fill up more quickly the next time you play. The solution to this is to have a solid cool-down routine that helps you to digest that data.
Thoughts of the Past and Future A surefire way to kick yourself out of the zone is to suddenly start thinking about something in the past or future. You lose an all-in with AA against JJ, and automatically your mind fixates on the big downswing that happened right after you lost that exact hand a few months ago. Other examples of these thoughts include:. You have to identify and resolve the underlying flaws caus- ing these reactions in order to truly plant yourself in the present action at the table.
Start by answering these questions: Becoming distracted by thoughts of the future can originate from both fear and from the anticipation of something happening, whether good or bad. This could be a result of sensing that you are tired, but feeling like you have to keep playing.
Predicting that you will lose offers you a more legitimate excuse to quit than just feeling tired. This could be connected to your need for the money, respect from your family, and vindication for past injustices. These underlying issues could be causing you to feel an immense amount of pressure, and imagining the money in your hands relieves some of the weight.
Just remember that defusing the underlying trigger takes a lot of repetition. Be prepared to use it until your mind can automatically remain focused even when those past triggers are lurking.
Hyper-awareness Becoming overly aware of the fact that you are playing in the zone can actually cause you to fall out of it. This causes your mind to focus more on your performance and not as much on continuing to perform. After the session, allow yourself to acknowledge and feel confident about your new level of play. Lack of Challenge Playing in the zone can make the game feel easy. Dominating a tourna- ment, running over a cash game table, or crushing a heads-up opponent is of course what you want to happen, but it comes with a potential cost.
When poker is too easy, the lack of challenge causes your energy level to drop. Consequently, you lose interest, become easily distracted, and start playing a default ABC game. If you really are crushing your games, the solution is to set higher goals. If you are crushing over eight tables, try to add two more.