Skip to content


‘The Mental Game of Poker’ | Podcast #19


Sky Matsuhashi

on January 31, 2016

‘The Mental Game of Poker' will help you get out of that mental game funk you're in while improving mental clarity and a positive outlook on the game.

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


‘The Mental Game of Poker' | Podcast #19

Podcast Mission

At the end of this podcast you’ll rush to get your own copy of ‘The Mental Game of Poker' so you can start working on improving your mental game.

‘The Mental Game of Poker'

So ‘The Mental Game of Poker' sat on my shelf for years before I actually put it to use what was in the book.  I picked it up back in sometime shortly after Black Friday when I got back to online poker here in the US.  I read it, didn't put any of it to use and promptly shelved it.

My tilt kept getting worse as time went on.  It got to the point that every session I played I would end it earlier than intended b/c of tilt.  The smallest thing would set me off.  If I got sucked out on by a fish, I started to tilt.  If I lost the first of 15 SNG’s planned for that session I would start to tilt and make bad decisions leading to more losses.  I would miss the money in one tourney then spew off my stacks in other tourneys trying to make up for that one loss.

Poker got to the point where I would start each session already angry with the mindset of, “Well, it’s going to be another shitty session.”  If I continued on like this for too much longer I would’ve quit poker.  In came TMGP to the rescue.

Fix me, book!

To fix the issue, I figured reading the book again couldn’t hurt, so I picked it up for a second read through to see if it could help my game.  And boy did it.

This second reading was so enlightening.  The book is very well written and to the point, not any fluff at all.  The text concisely taught me how to recognize tilt and my other mental game issues.  I thought tilt was the only issue, but confidence and fear were issues too, so those chapters really helped out as well.  I found the Client’s Stories also very useful, as they’re kind of like testimonials for Jared’s ideas.  The stories were very relatable and gave good insight into mental game issues from other player perspectives.

I put to use the techniques I learned right away and saw a marked improvement in my mental state as I played: I wasn’t tilting as much, not quitting sessions as often, starting off in a positive mindset, and situations that caused tilt did so less often and my tilt was less severe.

The chapters were arranged in a very logical manner, with each building upon the last.  The first four expertly give readers an understanding of mental game problems and how to resolve them: 1) Understanding how our game suffers due to tilt; 2) How we learn effectively (the Adult Learning Model, Inchworm concept and the Process Model); 3) The role emotions play in our poker game play; and 4) Strategies for resolving mental game issues.

The Adult Learning Model

Reading about the Adult Learning Model in chapter 2 was very enlightening, especially when they talk about the Unconscious Competence and how the goal is to develop skill sets to that level so that we naturally revert to these at times of stress or high emotions.  I discussed the UC a little bit in podcast episode #8, about FOCUS Sessions.  The reason why we want to develop skills to the level of the UC is b/c skills that reside here are used without even thinking about it.  It’s like automatically folding 72o pre-flop, we don’t even consider this as a hand to play.  But what if we developed the skill of double-barreling or 3betting pf to the level of the UC?  Then we’d free up so much brain space for other even tougher decisions at the tables.

Podcast #5 was about warm-ups and cool downs, and this book is the reason why I do these now.  It’s become a ritualistic part of every session I play, and I credit it a lot for helping me to minimize tilt.

The Inchworm approach is a novel idea to me, and it's working to improve the lagging parts of your game while adding skill sets to your ‘A-game’ or Unconscious Competence.  So you're systematically improving your game from both ends: which is improving your A-game or how often you play it, and lopping off those leaks that are part of your C-game.

Injecting Logic

Another concept that’s really helped me is the idea of injecting logic.  This is an awesome strategy that the book discusses which is simply saying logical statements to yourself to help your mind cope with an undesirable situation.  These logic statements are peppered throughout the rest of the book in sections where they can have the biggest effect on different tilt issues.

One LS I’m currently using is: You can’t control how you run, so don’t focus on it.

And of course I got a ton out of chapter 5, which is 80 pages covering 7 different types of tilt and how to recognize and resolve each.  For me, Running Bad Tilt, Injustice Tilt and Entitlement Tilt are the big areas of focus and these sections have really allowed me to breakdown my tilt issues and begin resolving them.

Beyond the chapter on Tilt, this book also covers three very important aspects of the mental game: Fear, Motivation and Confidence.  These opened my eyes to a lot of underlying psychological ideas that were stalling my progress.

I highly recommend The Mental Game of Poker to every player in the world, regardless of game or stakes played.  The concepts covered and skills you gain from it are invaluable and will lead to major improvements for everyone.  This is a timeless piece of poker learning, and I’m sure that 50 years from now players will still be talking about it.


Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Get your copy of the The Mental Game of Poker. Get it, read it (or listen to it), implement it, and kick tilt to the curb.


Sky Matsuhashi

Don’t Miss Out!

Get expert tips and strategies straight to your inbox each week!