Jared Tendler is the leading expert in the field of the mental game of poker. He has coached hundreds of professional poker players, from every corner of the world, including players of the ilk of Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt, Niman “Samoleus” Kenkre and Ben “NeverScaredB” Wilinofsky. Tendler is also the radio show host for The Mental Game of Poker, the title of his first published book The Mental Game of Poker.
We managed to grab hold of Tendler during the WSOP as he was railing one of his many clients and this is what he had to say.
So what has Jared Tendler been up to during the 43rd Annual World Series of Poker (WSOP)?
I have been very busy and have a lot of clients. In fact I have far more WSOP clients than I imagined. I have my usual clients from overseas that I speak to in the morning, but I also have 15 clients over here and five of them are still in the main event, which is cool.
Has your client base increased since the release of your book: The Mental Game of Poker?
I haven’t doubled my entire client base, but have doubled my WSOP client base. Before the book was published I was known mostly in the online community, and since the book has been published I have become more known the live poker circuit.
Has this resulted in two different Set of mental game approaches: live and online?
It’s exactly the same, the only thing that changes is the execution of the strategy counting for the differences between live and online poker. The topics and issues are the same. You could tilt because of the way a person places their bets, the way they look at you, etc. The issues are the same as these show up in online poker as well.
Have any of your clients gone on to bigger and better things?
I have had a couple of clients do well. Ben Wilinofsky won EPT Berlin and Max Steinberg won himself a WSOP bracelet.
Has the book exceeded expectations?
The book was released the day before Black Friday, so given that fact it has definitely exceeded expectations given the new poker world order. It is out on audio book now and people can get it for free on Amazon. The book is still selling really well. I sold more at the WSOP booth this year than last year. The praise keeps getting better also. The more people get familiar with the mental game period then the book will continue to do well.
Do you think you would get even more interest if poker players weren’t so stubborn? I mean even Phil Galfond has decided to give up controlling his emotions and yet so many players believe they have no mental game problems at all.
I just read a Phil Ivey interview where he said that even he makes mistakes. Anyone who takes a hard-line like that may not really have severe issues, but everyone will have some mental game weaknesses. If you are not looking at it you wont really know. You cannot say, “If I don’t tilt it will improve my number of buy-ins by x%”. How the hell do you know if you are looking at it? Those types of poker players are also the types who are not going to admit how severe their problems even are. Over confidence is rampant in poker as it is in golf.
Is there a lack of professionalism in poker that contributes to this way of thinking?
A lot of the behaviour is because the standard has not risen high enough to punish players who do not improve. If poker were as competitive as golf is right now you would not be able to survive. I am not saying you cant have fun, but its the degree to which you have fun. Daniel Negreanu said in one of his vlogs that he wasn’t going to go out too much at this year’s WSOP. He needed balance. Players are beginning to wake up to the reality that they can’t drink until 0400 in the morning and turn up and play good poker. I am not saying they are going to play shit, I am saying they wont be playing as well as they can.
That leads me onto another topic actually. I have seen some of the top players in the game clearly playing whilst stoned. I also heard your QuadJacks radio interview with Phil Hellmuth when he spoke about wanting to try Adderrall. Are these players reducing their ability to play better whilst living under the illusion that it is actually helping them?
The simple answer is yes. There are a handful of people who have been adamant with me that it helps them, and it’s hard to argue that there’s not the potential, but it’s basic chemistry. How do you find that perfect balance? When do you go too far? It’s like drinking alcohol, how do you know when too much is too much? We all know the difference between too many drinks is a very fine line. If you are looking for alcohol, weed or adderall to balance you out, and you don’t have a real need for it, then you are playing with fire. All those things impair your judgment (well adderall to a lesser degree). So here you are believing that you are playing well, and it is helping you, when there could be evidence that says otherwise. Phil Hellmuth actually said in an interview after he had won his WSOP bracelet, that he had tried adderrall when playing on another final table and it screwed him up.
Are we then back to the lack of professionalism in the game?
There is still this Baller mindset; they want to be cool by not caring, which is what we did in high school. If you have focus issues and you rely on adderall and you don’t have true ADD…actually even if you do…because the long term research now it pretty pessimistic about the value of using these drugs long term – it is the equivalent of putting your mind in a sling when you don’t really need to. In a sling, the muscles in your arm will atrophy as will your mind. You need that chemical to balance it out so you are making your mind less mentally tough. If you are struggling with focus issues then you probably have underlying goals that you want to look good or you don’t want to miss something. It’s these conflicting goals that distract you, not that you can’t focus. You just have too many things going on. Ivey has laser like focus because all he is interested in is winning. You can create the same focus if you work on getting rid of the other goals that are stopping you from performing. But you need to recognize them first.
So players develop this lazy baller type mindset and because the game is not improving fast enough, players can still win whilst playing under the influence therefore they just keep doing what they think is effective without realizing that if they stopped they would be so much better?
Totally. But they also risk not being able to jumpstart their game if the competition starts to take it more seriously – and as a mass – better players get better. If that happens they will be caught with their pants down because not only will they have to stop smoking in order to keep up, but they are going to have to go back to basics and learn how to play poker without smoking.
Why are there not more Jared Tendler’s in poker pushing the Mental Game theory home to players?
The value of what I do is still underestimated. I realise I have a long road ahead of me to establish credibility in what I do in the poker world, but I like the challenge.
Finally, are you still crap at poker?
I must be worse because I haven’t played hardly any in the past year.