Why I Won't Debate The Mental Game of Poker with A Special Someone

DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 186 ✭✭
edited December 2015 in General Concepts
Hello All!

I was extended an invitation to debate the pseudo-science garbage that has just been published by someone who has no experience or knowledge on the psychology of poker. He has also shown a complete inability to use logic or reason. That coupled with his propensity to lie specifically about me and my work (as well as that of others) has led me to decline this sweet invitation.

In case you find this kind of thing interesting, here is my open letter explaining more fully my reasoning : http://www.drtriciacardner.com/?p=848

Dr. Tricia

Comments

  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 3,592 -
    Read it.

    I still wish you'd debate...but I understand your position. I suspect MM will leave the show early if the call-ins go the way I think they will...
    Check out my latest course - The Hand Reading Lab
  • ChipXtractorChipXtractor Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 1,116 ✭✭✭
    It was a train wreck. MM did not help himself or his position with his performance on the show in my opinion.

    I kind of feel bad to be honest. I am old enough to understand what MM meant to poker back in the day.

    Just sad.
    Twitter = @ChipXtractor
  • DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 186 ✭✭
    It was a train wreck. MM did not help himself or his position with his performance on the show in my opinion.

    I kind of feel bad to be honest. I am old enough to understand what MM meant to poker back in the day.

    Just sad.

    You're right; it has sad. I'm the most disappointed in how unprofessional he has been. I believe he hurts the public's perception of our game. He's a legend in terms of how long of how long he's been around. It's clear he's only in it to make a few bucks now.

    You tried to ask a legitimate question and you were very respectful. I think you can see why there was no possible way to have a productive debate with him & that's why I passed.

    Tricia
  • ArtArtBobartArtArtBobart Red Chipper Posts: 330 ✭✭
    I listened for about a half hour and couldn't take it any more. I swear he sounds Asperger's-like in his inability to understand that not everyone thinks like him. "It's right because I say so!". I heard opinion, but not any facts.
  • ArtArtBobartArtArtBobart Red Chipper Posts: 330 ✭✭
    As an aside, I work for a large tech company which has recently invested corporate-wide in mindset training. Areas they are emphasizing are very similar to what Dr Cardner teaches. Psychology can be very practical, not "touchy-feely."
  • ChipXtractorChipXtractor Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 1,116 ✭✭✭
    I believe the mindset training has helped me more off the tables than on the tables. Which of course helps me on the tables as well. :-)
    Twitter = @ChipXtractor
  • dirty moosedirty moose Red Chipper Posts: 480 ✭✭✭
    I wrote up a small blurb about 2+2 but decided to delete it and just say this;

    I think 2+2 has just fallen to far behind to catch up at this point. And it shows. The forums are nothing like they once we're. When was the last strategy book David or Mason wrote?

    It's certainly sad to see them become so irrelevant to poker. I haven't seen an interview with David, but these interviews with Mason are just painful for the most part. It's his way or the highway.

    I don't want to take anything away from either of them, I credit them with alot of my early poker knowledge. They might just be too far behind and to stubborn to change....

    I'd love to hear you debate tho Tricia, but I understand why you won't.

    Matt
  • Doug HullDoug Hull RCP Coach Posts: 1,473 -
    We appreciate your positive tone and implicit endorsement of our site. We cherish the welcoming environment and supportive community.
    Founder Red Chip Poker,
    Author Poker Plays You Can Use
    Author Poker Workbook for Math Geeks
  • dirty moosedirty moose Red Chipper Posts: 480 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2015
    Doug Hull wrote: »
    We appreciate your positive tone and implicit endorsement of our site. We cherish the welcoming environment and supportive community.

    This place is pretttty awesome.
  • Steve007Steve007 Red Chipper Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    I skipped around but I didn't see him address the issue of what happens when a tired player misses important information as a result of being tired, and that affects the way he/she plays hands. I heard the part when he said that tired players may make worse decisions in marginal decisions which doesn't really hurt them much, but couldn't the information you gain from being well rested help turn a marginal situation into a clearly profitable situation?
  • DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 186 ✭✭
    Steve007 wrote: »
    I skipped around but I didn't see him address the issue of what happens when a tired player misses important information as a result of being tired, and that affects the way he/she plays hands. I heard the part when he said that tired players may make worse decisions in marginal decisions which doesn't really hurt them much, but couldn't the information you gain from being well rested help turn a marginal situation into a clearly profitable situation?

    His overall thesis is that if you know how to play poker well then you will always play poker well no matter what. He thinks that being in shape does not affect poker because you don't need timing, strength, or coordination to play poker well (like you do with physical sports). He says you don't need mental toughness because you are not being hit like a football player. Meditation won't help you play your AA better.

    These are some of the things he has said about a 100 times in the last 6 months. He's said a lot of other erroneous things, too. interestingly, I talk a great deal about improving your game and developing your expertise as critical, but he pretends I don't. But he also says if you'd just learn to play well, you wouldn't need a mental game coach for any reason. He's worried that mental game coaches are snookering poor players out of money by telling them they can visualize themselves winning and this is the only thing it takes to be a winning player. I don't know any credible mental game coach who would say or do such a thing.

    Even that line of reasoning is suspect because a mental coach can give you direction on how to study, can help you optimize your habits (including learning), help you stop procrastinating and give you tips to increase focus - just to name a few areas. And in sport psychology, all elite players (who surely know how to play their games well) use sport psychologists and mental game consultants.


    To answer your question, we know without doubt that even short amounts of sleep deprivation cause massive declines in cognitive function. So if you are tired, you will process information much more slowly and miss important cues.

    He said in Muny's show that he plays ~300 hours per year of LHE (which I think is about 5-6 hours per week), so I'm not sure how often he deals with being tired at the table.

    Also, he hasn't played NLHE in years (according to the interviews he's given), so I don't think he is dialed into how much the games have changed and how you have to have every edge you can get to remain profitable.

    Take my advice - get some sleep before you show up to play :-)

    Tricia
  • dirty moosedirty moose Red Chipper Posts: 480 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2015
    DrTricia wrote: »
    But he also says if you'd just learn to play well, you wouldn't need a mental game coach for any reason.

    The most FALSE statement of all time. When I played horses, I had an amazing software program that did everything but verbally tell you what horse to bet and I would tilt out of my mind. I knew all the fundamentals and technical stuff but could never "get" the mental side of that game.....

    Strangely I never had that problem with poker. Why is that Doc?

  • ArtArtBobartArtArtBobart Red Chipper Posts: 330 ✭✭
    Good grief, only 300 hours a year? I play almost 3 times that amount and my job is not in the gambling arena like his is. Guess I'll write a poker book.
  • FilthyCasualFilthyCasual Red Chipper Posts: 871 ✭✭✭
    Sounds like it would have been a waste of time. No accountability in today's world, defame at will and just have a larger media outlet.
  • Steve007Steve007 Red Chipper Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    I do see him occasionally playing the limit games at the Bellagio, but have never played with him because I haven't played limit recently.

    I saw him once playing 2-5 NL at Aria once but I think that was 3 years ago. And that was only once, but at the same time I don't look for him in that room and I had no idea how often he plays NL.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 3,304 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2015
    I don't like to admit it, but I love this topic. Kind of immature of me, I suppose.

    I love this site because of the homey atmosphere, and genuine vibe of enjoyment of learning and teaching from the moderators/coaches. I was a member of a very similar site when I started playing Limit Holdem years ago (Internet Texas Holdem, from Matt Hilger's excellent book of the same name. The site may still exist but for all practical purposes it's gone now.) That's what fueled my love of the game and love of talking with poker players.

    An example of the difference between 2+2 and here. Here I debate someone and I get a funny icon assigned to my ID. There I debate someone and I get banned. (I have a new ID there but rarely post.)

    I will say that 2+2 and MM in particular have thrived in modern times in spite of him, not because of him. There's a critical mass of contributors and that's what keeps the forum relevant, not MM. He has real issues that will apparently never be corrected. It's those issues that keep him from seeing certain things objectively, and since he's living in the past vis a vis his success with books and the site, he just can't see the present correctly. His ideas are often flawed, regardless of some of the good stuff that's come in the past. His ego is so tied to the identity and success of 2+2 publishing that every time he writes something, you have to be suspicious of bias and agenda. Ironically, logic often eludes him. I say ironic because if you think about it, what he's doing is tilting with regard to poker advice and his business.
  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 3,592 -
    jeffnc wrote: »
    An example of the difference between 2+2 and here. Here I debate someone and I get a funny icon assigned to my ID. There I debate someone and I get banned. (I have a new ID there but rarely post.)

    Yeah...that is a large part of our goal here. Not to just ban people for disagreeing...rather to have an intelligent conversation.
    Check out my latest course - The Hand Reading Lab
  • rabidjazzrabidjazz Red Chipper Posts: 88 ✭✭
    MM started a thread on 2+2 about this, if anyone is interested: 2+2 Mason Malmuth thread

    -rJ
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Red Chipper Posts: 400 ✭✭
    It seems to me Mason's position is a microcosm of a broader sub-societal mistrust of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. It's amusing to me because many years ago I felt compelled to teach my psychoanalyst the rudiments of poker and variance to make our sessions more useful.

    I could make an observation relating to why Mason may not value adequate sleep and a healthy diet, but...
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 3,304 ✭✭✭✭
    TheGameKat wrote: »
    I could make an observation relating to why Mason may not value adequate sleep and a healthy diet, but...

    ...too easy?

    A couple quotes from MM in that thread:

    "... we do our best on these forums to be an honest broker where all points of view can be heard."

    Except that some of those people have already been banned.

    "So in my opinion, only an incompetent fool would make the kind of statement that you quote in your post."

    Well, technically he didn't contradict his first quote, I guess. The point of view was heard. Although had anyone else written that, they would have been banned, of course.

  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 3,304 ✭✭✭✭
    "The foundation of his book is that all you need is a complete foundation of poker knowledge and that the mental game plays no role. I have said multiple times (and it is in Positive Poker) that learning proper strategy is the most important aspect of poker & he contends I do not – an out and out lie. But I do believe that the mental game is vitally important – especially as you move up in stakes. More importantly, the best players in the world agree with this sentiment." (Dr. C)

    So here's how this works. Let's take golf. The elite players say stuff like this all the time: "Well, this game is really 90% mental."

    Of course, it's not. It's probably 90% technique. Telling an amateur that he'll get 90% toward a pro's game by working on the mental side of the game is absolutely absurd.

    But the ratio changes as you improve. Sure, to a pro who's spent his whole life working on his technique, now the game is 90% mental. That's because he's already mastered 90% of the technique part.

    Probably most of the readers of this forum have passed the 50% technique part of poker, and as they continue to improve their technique, the mental game starts to increase in importance. I suppose when Dr. C says "move up in stakes" that's about what I mean by "improve technique".
  • ChipXtractorChipXtractor Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 1,116 ✭✭✭
    jeffnc wrote: »
    "The foundation of his book is that all you need is a complete foundation of poker knowledge and that the mental game plays no role. I have said multiple times (and it is in Positive Poker) that learning proper strategy is the most important aspect of poker & he contends I do not – an out and out lie. But I do believe that the mental game is vitally important – especially as you move up in stakes. More importantly, the best players in the world agree with this sentiment." (Dr. C)

    So here's how this works. Let's take golf. The elite players say stuff like this all the time: "Well, this game is really 90% mental."

    Of course, it's not. It's probably 90% technique. Telling an amateur that he'll get 90% toward a pro's game by working on the mental side of the game is absolutely absurd.

    But the ratio changes as you improve. Sure, to a pro who's spent his whole life working on his technique, now the game is 90% mental. That's because he's already mastered 90% of the technique part.

    Probably most of the readers of this forum have passed the 50% technique part of poker, and as they continue to improve their technique, the mental game starts to increase in importance. I suppose when Dr. C says "move up in stakes" that's about what I mean by "improve technique".

    That is an excellent explanation Jeff. TY
    Twitter = @ChipXtractor
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Red Chipper Posts: 400 ✭✭
    edited December 2015
    Well said, Jeff, agree with that.

    I listened to Limon's interview with MM and was frankly appalled. Limon suggested playing poker was analogous to test-taking (since MM shot down any sport analogy on the grounds it needed speed and strength and coordination or something). Mason's counter to the analogy between playing poker and taking a test is that he once took a test in grad school when a bit sleepy and did just fine.

    Anyone who has dipped even briefly into educational psychology and the problems with standardized tests is well aware that "state of mind" (very broadly defined) plays a huge role in how an individual performs. Similar principles are exploited by marketers and advertisers.

    I'd suggest the only player who could not benefit from mental game work is PokerSnowie and possibly MM himself due to his rabid antipathy to the topic.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 3,304 ✭✭✭✭
    TheGameKat wrote: »
    Mason's counter to the analogy between playing poker and taking a test is that he once took a test in grad school when a bit sleepy and did just fine.

    For a guy who supposedly has a master's degree in math, and who partly makes a living with logic and math, it's all kinda scary sometimes.

  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Red Chipper Posts: 400 ✭✭
    I think I may have diagnosed the problem.

    In his book, Mr. Malmuth refers to extreme maniacs as "Sigmund Freuds."

    Which, you know, is sort of Freudian.
  • Steve007Steve007 Red Chipper Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    It looks like Mason is now saying that things like sleep, concentration, etc. matter, but just don't matter that much. He also says that tournament players usually don't tilt instead of what he said before which was something like "tournament players don't tilt."
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 3,304 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2016
    Probably only because Sklansky said so. What a waste of bandwidth and paper. I was thinking of responding, but I felt dumber after every post I read, so I stopped and came back here before I'd totally lost it.
  • WilliamWilliam Red Chipper Posts: 22
    Wow! Just wow...I'm coming late to this thread, but I'm struck by two things.

    First, the debasement of psychology as a scientific discipline. I think it remains the general sensibility for people trained in "harder" sciences to believe that social sciences are just bollocks. Maybe this is good? Let the "Mental Game Fish" remain that way :-)

    Second, and much more disturbing, I read MM in this context as being an old misogynist. I bring this up not just because I think it's true, but because it seems like something that remains relatively rampant in the poker community. I've heard and seen some pretty horrifying things at the poker table, and I want to rant about the things I've heard, but the more important thing is just recognizing the reality. We still have a huge gap in the number of men and women playing poker, and it's going to be pretty hard to change without changing some of the mindsets and behaviors in the poker world.

    Sometimes I'm terribly disturbed by what men are willing to say about women at the poker table, and I suspect it's one of the reasons we have comparatively few women playing poker. If we take the WSOP Colossus as an exemplar (6% women), then the only other occupations with a lower percentage of women are fire fighters and pilots. To me this seems relatively weird, since poker is one of the more social games at the casino, and women tend to be culturally trained to navigate social situations. However, with people like Malmuth spouting vitriolic misogyny, and some of the terribly unflattering behavior I've seen from other men at the poker tables, I wouldn't want to sit at the tables if I were a woman. In fact, sometimes I can hardly stomach it as a man.

    I'm reminded as I write this of Kat's blog post Bored-Locked in which he scolds Kid Poker for telling pros to entertain the fish. Maybe Kid Poker was somewhat disingenuous, but I assure you I'm not when I say everyone should try to be aware of misogyny at the tables. I mean really, you cannot say "fuck" at a poker table, but you can say, "The bitch was fat, but I took her home anyway because...hey...it's all pink on the inside" while getting a massage by a professional female therapist? <-- This was paraphrased from something I actually witnessed. When I mentioned how offensive it was the therapist just said, "I'm used to it."

    Anyone serious about this game and making it as robust as possible, should be finding ways to make it palatable to women. With 50% women, Colossus would have been a 40,000 person tourney. Every poker room would have 85%-90% more players, and a whole new parade of fish to exploit. Malmuth is an idiot, not because he doesn't understand psychology and is loath to examine scientific research, but because he doesn't understand how much misogyny hurts our game.
  • SeekingPlumbSeekingPlumb Red Chipper Posts: 11
    William, thank you for speaking out. I won't bring my personal drama or contentions with Mason here, but you've highlighted an important topic. Thank you.
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Red Chipper Posts: 400 ✭✭
    William, I completely agree with you concerning attacks on psychology, but for the most part I don't think the volleys are fired by those trained in the physical sciences. (Sample size of 1: I used to be an astrophysicist.) It seems to me much of the antipathy towards psychology and psychoanalysis stems from fear, fueled by a century-long character/professional assassination of Freud. The importance of the unconscious is a worrying idea for many people, thus they defensively reject psychology.

    As to misogyny in poker, yes it's rampant and hampering the expansion of the game.