Winning in poker isn’t easy. There are multiple skill sets that one needs to master to become a winning player, but two stand out above the rest. The first is obvious: you need to learn to play the game well and adopt winning strategies. But that alone is not enough.
The second crucial skill set pertains to what’s broadly defined as “mental game.” It encompasses a variety of factors that are hard to pinpoint to begin with, let alone master. And that’s where the Mental Game Tune Up for Tournament Poker video course by Jared Tendler comes in.
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As you can probably guess from the name, this course is designed to improve your mental game, focusing particularly on tournament players. After taking it, I can say with confidence that it could definitely benefit cash game players as well with a few fairly simple tweaks.
Jared Tendler enjoys a reputation of being one of the leading authorities on mental game issues. His seminal works, The Mental Game of Poker volumes I and II are still widely considered to be among the top poker books (read our review here). He’s spent years coaching poker players and helping them improve their results on the felt, and this course provides you with access to all that knowledge presented in a condensed and easy-to-follow manner.
Mental Game Tune Up for Tournament Poker is divided into eight modules, each covering a specific segment of your gameplan. Every module contains two sections: one featuring Jared’s lessons, explanations, and recommendations, and the second showing the actual mind game coaching process he went through with pro poker players Matt Affleck and Diego Ventura.
The course also contains several worksheets designed to help you get the best results out of lessons. There are hands-on examples on how you should approach filling these sheets as well, so there is no mystery. It’s all laid out for you, but you’ll still need to put in the work to improve.
Modules 1 & 2: Setting Goals and Knowing Your Game
This course wasn’t envisioned as something you watch once and then forget about. Instead, it should be used as a useful resource before every tournament series to help you build your plan, fix any new issues, and make sure the old ones are still under control.
As mentioned, there are eight modules in total, but Tendler puts the most emphasis on the first two, as these are the ones you should try to watch before every series, even if you’re short on time.
The first module talks about setting goals and the right way to do it. It invites you to take notes, come up with realistic goals, and an actionable plan to achieve them. It also talks about thinking ahead about any problems you expect to face along the way and what would be the best way to tackle them, either ahead of time as they arise.
A big emphasis in this module is on having connection to your goals. Tendler explains why this is of the utmost importance for your success and clarifies how to establish goals that are actually relatable.
The second module focuses on your game. To achieve the best results, you need to have a clear view of your game, and the only way to achieve this is by focusing on the process instead of results. Tendler helps you understand the ways to establish objective feedback with a useful A- to C-game Analysis tool.
Completing exercises from this module will help you understand where your game is at and how it tends to fluctuate (and why). This won’t just help you improve your play but should also lessen the emotional intensity in the long run.
Modules 3 & 4: Tilt, Emotions, and Burnout
The next couple modules of Tendler’s Mental Game Tune Up for Tournament Poker are designed to help you dig deeper into your emotions and mental state, and eventually make you a sturdier player ready to play your best game for a prolonged period of time.
Module 3 leads you to explore the biggest emotional problems you’re likely to face during a tournament series. These are different for every player, ranging from being overly upset over suckouts and bad beats (injustice tilt) to overconfidence.
Too much emotion can clutter your brain, preventing access to important information during play. So, in this module, you’re encouraged to create your tilt profile, identifying different levels of tilt and how these affect your performance.
The way to do this is by getting to the root of the problem, figuring out what causes it, and then coming up with strategies to remove it.
While Tendler admits that the ideas in his mental game course aren’t revolutionary on their own, he explains that developing the right process is what matters the most and what most players struggle with.
Module 4 continues on the theme of the previous one but expands to cover burnout and the most effective ways to deal with it. Poker can be very intense — tournament poker in particular — and getting burned out at some point isn’t uncommon. But, with the right strategy, you can recognize it early on and address the issue immediately.
Tendler presents six effective ways to tackle burnout, such as improving your routines, not trying to learn new stuff days before the tournament, having proper diet, and exercising. He suggests trying to get rid of everything not related to poker and to rather fully focus on the game while playing. This will help conserve your energy.
Modules 5 & 6: Getting Into the Zone and Thriving Under Pressure
Anyone who’s played poker for a little while knows what it means to be in the zone. It’s that great state where you simply know what to do every hand. Decisions come easy to you and more often than not, they’re correct ones.
But getting into that zone isn’t easy. It takes just the right amount of energy to get there, and that amount differs for every player. For some, emotions play a big role in the process as well, even “bad” emotions like fear and anger.
In this module, Tendler provides a way to create your zone profile, which will help you identify the steps that work for you and come up with the right formula. It may seem a bit random at first, but over time you’ll start to recognize certain patterns and improve your ability to get in the zone almost at will.
Following on these ideas, Module 6 talks about performing under pressure, which is another huge factor in poker tournaments. Tendler provides some useful insights and explanations, even offering examples for certain high-pressure spots like final tables, heads-up play, and being the chip leader.
One interesting point in this module is that being nervous is perfectly normal and not something you should battle. Instead, you should learn how to contain this energy and use it to fuel your A-game.
Modules 7 & 8: Focus and Decisions Making
The final two modules of the Mental Game Tune Up for Tournament Poker cover two topics that go hand-in-hand: maintaining your focus at the tables and understanding your decision-making process.
The first is something we all know: we need to stay focused at all times to perform at the highest level, but this isn’t always easy. There are many distractions, and to improve you need to figure out what distractions are your biggest problem and find a way to get rid of them.
When it comes to decisions most of us focus on the end result, and we rarely think about the actual process that brought us to the conclusion. Here, Tendler also discusses the idea of intuition vs. instinct and how these two are significantly different.
How Good Is Mental Game Tune Up for Tournament Poker?
Developing a strong mental game is key to long-term success in poker, there’s no doubt about it. Every top-level player will tell you so. The question is, how do you do it. More importantly, can Jared Tendler’s course help you get there?
What I’d say is that the course presents you with all the necessary tools to significantly improve the mental aspect of your game. Tendler is an experienced mind coach and he knows what he’s talking about. For this to work, however, you’ll have to get with the program and follow the steps.
Just watching the video course won’t do much for you. It may give you a few solid pointers, but to get the real value you’ll need to download those worksheets and take the time to answer all the questions. Then you’ll need to do it all over again before the next tournament series.
It’s a quality product but it’s designed for those serious about improving their game and winning titles, and Jared says as much at one point. So, if you find yourself fitting the above description, then go for it – you won’t regret it!
Jared’s course isn’t designed for recreational players who’d like to get better but don’t have the time or the will to put in serious work. The material isn’t as much of a course as it is a journey. I’m positive it can work wonders, but you have to really put your mind to it. So if you are ready to take your poker journey to the next level, you should strongly consider purchasing the course. The $499 price tag will be a wise investment worth making.
*Don’t forget to use promo code CPL to save $50 on your course purchase!*