Lee Davy sits down with the Mental Game Coach, Jared Tendler, to dig around in the dirt covering final table deal making and backers playing against horses on final tables.
At the recent European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event final table in Vienna a deal was struck between the top three players that saw the man who finished in third (Marko Neumann) locking up more money than the eventual winner (Oleksii Khoroshenin).
Looking through the hands it is clear to see that Neumann got extremely unlucky to finish in third place, but I want to know if the advent of a deal changes the way that you approach the game on a sub-conscious level?
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a post called The Hidden Game Behind Professional Poker; a post that focused on the increasing tendency for players to sell pieces of their action and to be backed by other players.
Once again I want to know if playing at a final table with someone who is backing you changes the way you approach a game on a sub-conscious level?
I have a gut feeling on these things and my gut is saying they do. But I wanted to seek the opinion of a man who is far more intelligent than me, and this is why I invited the author of the Mental Game of Poker series, Jared Tendler, onto the show to talk about it.
In the classic book Influence by Robert Cialdini. The author puts it to you that there are six universal principles explaining why people say yes. One of these principles is called the Rule of Reciprocation.
He believes that we naturally try to repay in kind what another has done for us, and it’s this reasoning that I believe makes people play softer when they have made a deal.
What’s your view on this?
“Whether or not it is reciprocation, or the dynamics of the game have changed, if they care more about the money than the title, and the money is locked up, then their motivation will change and their behaviors, actions and play will also change in accordance with that too.
“You have to understand that all people are different. Some will want to return in kind, some are fearful and that’s what motivates them to make a deal in the first place, and once made, that fear is gone and they play better. So there is a lot of individuality about what motivates people to make a deal and how it affects them afterwards.”
Nobody ever admits that making a deal, or playing with backers, friends, or horses affects their game…what is going on inside their brains that they maybe don’t know about?
“There are a lot of players who don’t like to admit the influence of Tilt. They say there are times that they get angry but it doesn’t affect their play, but of course it does to a certain degree. Even if it removes the extra edge you have mentally to be playing in the zone, and be in your A game, to now be playing your B+ game. It’s a subtle difference – it may not be obvious to them, but it’s a difference.
“It doesn’t have to be dramatic. The subtleties in terms of technical performance, or mental functioning require a level of awareness of your mental game to be able to spot these differences.
“I have a lot of clients who have spent a lot of hours trying to spot the subtle differences in their mental game specifically, and I also help them to develop these sensitivities in their technical game, because it helps them to find out when mental thing are starting to affect them. Maybe they open up too much and this could be an indication that they are tilted. So understanding technical variation can help them spot that something mental may be happening.
“The point is, not a lot of players really spend a lot of time becoming aware of the variation that exists in their technical, or mental game, so those types of players are going to be more blind to being able to understand if there are subtle changes occurring – once they have made a deal for example.”
Why aren’t more players spending more time raising awareness in these areas?
“Not a lot of them know that they need too, there is not a lot of pressure too, they don’t know that it’s an option, and there may not be an immediate problem that forces their hand to – especially if they are making deals regularly and they are not aware that extra work could take their game to another level.”
What about backers and horses playing on the same table? Surely, there is a change in the way that they play against each other?
“There is always going to be variation because people are different. I have coached a lot of people who are staked and it tends to go in several directions. Some take it a little bit for granted because they know it’s not there money, and so there is either a little more risk taking or less intensity and less focus; on the other hand people get anxious and there is a fear that someone else is depending on them. They are in partnership and they don’t want to let anyone down. It can sometimes be a burden. The third behavior I see is they play better because they have someone watching their back.”
You can listen to the full interview by pressing play just above this article.