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Avoid the Fixed Mindset | MED #9 Class 3 | Poker Podcast #152


Sky Matsuhashi

on August 19, 2017

In this episode, I discuss avoiding a fixed mindset and having a growth mindset within poker and when practicing hand reading.

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


A Growth Mindset vs a Fixed Mindset (3:05)

A necessary evil within hand reading is making assumptions pre-flop.  Some assumptions we all make:

  • Opponent's ranges
  • Guessing how our opponents will approach their position, hands, the situation
  • Narrowing ranges based on how we think they’ll react and act in some sort of logical manner

Learn from “assumption” mistakes by having a growth mindset.

‘Mindset’ by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. (4:15)

I learned a ton about having a growth mindset from a book called ‘Mindset’ by Carol S. Dweck.

  • Fixed Mindset definition from the book: believing that your qualities are carved in stone
  • Growth Mindset definition from the book: believing that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts
  • A Growth Mindset can turn failure into a + learning experience
  • Fixed mindset people quit when the going gets tough
  • People with fixed mindsets are more likely to react negatively or even violently to bad beats and bad outcomes
  • Fixed mindsets see failure as a sign that they’re dumb. Have a growth mindset and see setbacks as opportunities to learn.
  • The fact that you’re working on your game means you’re doing the right thing. Putting in the work is important and will get you through those downswings.

Fixed Mindset Words: can’t, won’t, don’t, never (9:40)

Can’t: I CAN'T figure out pot odds math on the fly.

  • Flip it to: I just need to practice pot odds over and over off the felt and make cheat sheets to help me learn the most common pot odds calculations

Won’t: I WON'T be able to figure out this opponent.

  • Flip it to: Everyone has a weakness, I’ll keep digging until I find his.

Don’t: I DON'T have the time to study.

  • Flip it to: How can I make or take the time to study?

Never: I’m NEVER going to get this!

  • Flip it to: I can do this, just gotta work to figure it out.

Learn from your mistakes (11:25)

The great thing about poker and hand reading is that as soon as one hand ends, you get another opportunity to practice these skills with the very next hand you’re dealt or when doing reviews off the felt.

Hand reading is a skill that can be developed, and having a growth mindset and accepting mistakes as part of the learning process is a requisite to developing this skill.

Fixed Mindset Within the Rest of Poker (15:25)

The fact that you’re listening means you probably have a growth mindset.  I say probably because maybe you tune out when I talk about math or player types because you can’t seem to learn that stuff.  Take heart, all you need is practice!  Spend the time, take notes, drill yourself and it’ll come to you eventually.

Transitions between games (cash>MTT, MTT>SNG)

  • Choose one format to focus on and study/play mostly that
  • Figure out the most important, fundamental things you need to learn and start there

New stats and how to use them

  • AF, AFq, Won after calling river bets, etc.
  • Learn the formulas, filter for hands that relate to the stat and review the resulting hands
  • Add the stats to your HUD to force you to use them more often

New plays like check-raises, 3betting, bluff 4betting and donk leading

  • Study each for one week
  • Test them out in each session you play as you study them
  • Filter for facing the play and review those hands

Visiting new brick and mortar card rooms or even new online rooms – new environment, new players with different strategies

  • Take notes on differences you see
  • Look for good tables and players to target
  • Make friends out of the cardroom staff and your fellow players

Hand Reading Email from Ken (19:40)

So, after 6 weeks of working on hand reading, I must say “OH DAMN”.  I have done well over the years but my improvement in this area has been incredible. The results have been even better, but running hot as well doesn’t hurt. Due to time limitations of 20-30 minutes per day but sometimes more, I still have a few weeks more that I want to dedicate to hand reading and to work more with Flopzilla.  But, the time spent has been more than worth it.

I will be trying to increase this time as well working on my game. I have found it totally amazing that I am reading the hand ranges others are playing now with about 85-90% accuracy in the ranges I have given them.  But, every so often I miss by a mile but I am learning from those instances as well. 

Even more, I am adding things from your book as well.  I have started game tape about a week ago and yesterday, no kidding, I bought 20 1-subject notebooks to journal different subjects. I've been writing down my thoughts on my play over the years for each game I played but this will be a lot different. I may never write a book but the idea of going back over my journals for each area will help me refresh my game. 

In September, I am going to start Jonathan Little's new book and do everything your book advised me to do.  I do look forward to seeing this technique used to the max and properly documented in my 1st Journal.


It's pretty obvious Ken has a growth mindset around hand reading and poker in general.  My hope for all of you is that you put in the time like Ken has to improve your hand reading skills.

Takes a ton of work, but Ken has obviously improved his game and that's exciting!  I hope I get to face Ken and destroy his superior hand reading capabilities, just as he’ll try to destroy me.  I’ll see you at the tables, Ken.

Challenge (12:20)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Overcome any areas where you have a fixed mindset.  You need to catch yourself using those “bad words” I discussed earlier: can’t, won’t, don’t and never.  When you say one of these words, take note of it, and flip the script on those negative thoughts.  Turn them into positive, can-do, growth oriented thoughts and ideas that propel your studies and your game into new echelons of greatness.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Support the Show

Jonathan Whiters purchased my Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4 this past week.  I'm sure he's using this to gain valuable reads on his opponents.  Get the Smart HUD here.

And, Omar Gutierrez purchased the ‘Getting the Most From PokerTracker 4 Webinar' , and by clicking the link here, he got $5 off + a free webinar of his choice.


Sky Matsuhashi

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