This article about complaining and tilt was written by professional poker player and coach Gerard, aka Txeremi. Gerard is passionate about self-development, reading, giving his best, improving every day, crushing life and business and challenges that demand the best of him. He is also the founder of Pokermind.
What is Pokermind?
Pokermind is the first Mental Game Manager, designed to increase your performance at the tables. Not only does it offer warm up and cool down routines, but also exclusive and new mental game statistics. It was born to bridge the gap between the typical poker playing routine and the knowledge and bibliography available to us about mental game, that since the year 2011, grew rapidly.
Complaining and Tilt
I have noticed that I am complaining a lot lately. Bad sign. It’s the worst thing I can do as a poker player. I am sure you also do it a lot sometimes. Let’s analyze a little bit what complaining means and what function pursues.
Complaining is the act of making an affirmation or a rhetorical question about something that has happened, in negative terms. The complaint expresses dissatisfaction with reality. There is a shock between your expectation and what happened. And that shock is painful. Because you were associating positive emotions to the “positive” result. And you already know that the problem isn’t getting the undesired result…it’s wishing that reality were different. The lack of acceptance. And that’s what the complaint expresses. I WISH IT WASN’T LIKE THIS!
Furthermore, you magnify the problem when you attach even more expectations to that result. For example, playing poker, when losing a single hand, suffering for every other hand you have lost in the session. Or when you worry more about not looking bad than in the decision per se. Or when you try to look/seem superior in front of your opponents. Or when you attach your value as a person and player to the result.
That is to say that you depend so much on your results to feel well as a player or to feed your ego, that every decision at the tables is not just about money but also about who you are! You are betting with your own value. Now that’s high stakes! Playing with your value as a person in each hand. Do you think that is the best way to make good decisions? Too much pressure. Of course it hurts so much.
In other words, you have unreal expectations about single results and you feel entitled to win. You attach your value as a player/person to something uncontrollable. You wish with all your energy that reality were different when it’s not how you want it.
And you waste energy complaining instead of reacting to the unchangeable truth and making the next decision the best way you can. Which, in turn, wears you down and affects the quality of your future decisions, increasing the probability of experiencing this cycle again and falling a bit lower every time.
And when you lose you still have the courage to blame variance! If you also add that you don’t work on your mental game, or review your sessions, or have routines to play at your best level, or you don’t put the effort to improve…. Realize how hard are you putting it for yourself.
Can you see how this pattern is probably the factor that kills your winrate the most? But how easy is to complain! Too easy. The only useful thing about complaining is calming down the ego so it doesn’t feel threatened. If you are the victim, you are not the problem and you don’t even have to worry about it.
Complaining protects you from questioning yourself and thinking. It’s pure comfort and habit.
Additionally, complaining is addictive and every time you do it you reinforce the behaviour even more. We are trained to complain. It happens because it’s what we see in the world and because our own limitations. And also because we misunderstand poker’s real objective …which is no other than making the best decisions you can consistently.
Think about it. What would you do differently if you only cared about this objective?
Make a list of the routines, thoughts and behaviours that you would do or would stop doing to guarantee that you would be ready to play at your best level throughout all of your sessions. Compare it with what you do now. How do you think these changes would improve the quality of your sessions?
The moment you focus on making the best decisions every single time will be the moment you take control. The rest doesn’t matter. If you do, win or lose won’t matter. You will be a winner because of your decisions and your discipline and you won’t need to validate yourself with your results anymore. You will be above them. You are a winner because of who you are and how you act, nothing more. Because you give 100%, without regrets.
In the end, it’s about being proud of yourself, even in the hardest moments. Nothing can take away from you the satisfaction of knowing that you gave your best. Define your value as a player with the things you can control, and your results won’t matter.
Summing it up, quitting complaining requires a change in perspective and interiorizing key concepts:
- Complaining is pointless. It doesn’t improve the situation.
- Complaining is addictive, be careful.
- The problem is not reality, is how you interpret it.
- Each decision has to be taken separately and you do not attach your ego or personal worth to it.
- Do not hold expectations about things you can’t control.
- Accept reality how it is. Use your energy reacting and not complaining.
- Understand how variance works: if a player goes all-in with 1% equity, it would be unfair that he would never win. Don’t feel entitled to win.
- Understand poker’s real objective: making good decisions. And make sure your behaviour and routines help you maximize this objective.
- Focus on what you can control. Never ever focus on what you don’t.
- Attach your worth as a person and as a player to what you control.
- Give your best. No regrets.
- Trust the process. Keep doing things right and your results will follow.
How to put into practice?
Simple, but not easy. The key is to take daily action and understand that it’s a process that takes time, constancy and discipline. There is no shortcut or magic solution. It is a daily fight against complaints, negativity, tilt, procrastination and laziness. Perfection is not reachable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve every day. And this small constant improvement compounds over time and its effect multiplies.
It’s like going to the gym. In the beginning you have to be constant and train for several weeks before seeing noticeable changes. Each individual session is just a small improvement that compounds over time. And if you go once a week, better than nothing, but you will improve very slowly. Additionally, it’s better to work out a bit every day than to work out a lot one day and rest for a few days.
There are a few key concepts that you have to understand to improve your mental game and the behaviours we are talking about (complaining, tilt, procrastination, etc.)
Developing new habits is needed to replace bad habits. Develop habits aligned with your objectives.
Furthermore, to change your mental game leaks or false beliefs, you need daily repetition of the new concepts you want to internalize. It’s the only way to achieve lasting change.
Your habits are your default mode during a lot of your day. Autopilot mode. If you are trained to do the habits that help you get where you want without thinking about it, you will save a lot of energy.
Habits are the indivisible unit of your objectives. Do you want to achieve something? Determine what you have to do every day to get there and make a habit out of it. It’s not more complicated than that.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
To get to the point where an action becomes a habit you need constant repetition for a few weeks. That action will take an active effort until it’s internalized. And in this process you need discipline.
It is needed to keep doing this action that you have already decided you want to do, instead of pondering every time if you have to do it or not. In our daily life it is very easy to forget what we are committed to do or postpone it with typical excuses like “I don’t feel like it today”, “I will do it tomorrow”, “I am tired”, “I don’t have time”, etc…The only solution is being disciplined and take action until results start arriving.
Just do it. No bullshit. No exceptions.
“Do the thing and you’ll have the power” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In life you should only be doing one of two things: figuring out or doing it” – Casey Neistat
Gratitude is a habit. Gratitude offers us perspective and impacts everything that we do. It is the antidote to most of our absurd complaints. With gratitude, we learn to value what we have and focus on what we can control.
It’s the best way to stop worrying about what we don’t. Furthermore, gratitude gives us a new vision of what we think is negative. For example, be grateful for tilt because it shows you what you can improve. It’s a great lesson. Poker is a great teacher, use it.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others” – Marcus Cicero
Compassion is paramount because the path is not a straight line.
You will fail, repeatedly, and in those moments you need compassion with yourself to calm you down and get back to the path without falling into self-loathing.
“If you want to be happy, practice compassion” – Dalai Lama
Without goals, there is no direction. Without direction, your actions have no purpose, you will not get anywhere.
You want to achieve something, right? How are you going to find the motivation and overcome difficulties if you don’t have big enough goals? If you don’t have them, set them. Your goals should be aligned with your values or they won’t bring you anything positive if you reach them.
With powerful goals, you will not have to depend on finding your motivation every day, they will propel you forward. This is why is very important to remember them every day and before each session. And if they don’t have this effect on you, it means they are not important enough.
The only way to reach your objective is: remember them every day, determine the actions you have to do to achieve them and take action every day, no excuses. Measure your progress regularly and adjust your path. Simple.
“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest” – Venus Williams
Above all, acceptance of reality and yourself. You will never be able to change what happens to you. Like we talked about, it’s pointless to fight against it. A waste of energy.
Furthermore, you can’t even know if the things that happen to you are positive or negative because you can’t predict their future effects. You can always find reasons to complain. You think you have the right to do it at the moment, but it’s an illusion. The faulty mind will always find the way.
Acceptance is the cure of your mental bullshit. If you accept reality, you won’t lose time worrying about it, you will just react to it.
“Truth never pleads or compromises or wavers. It invites and awaits your acceptance” – Vernon Howard
Let’s be real. Most of your problems are nothing.
You have food, a roof above your head, clothes. You live comfortably. You hit the switch and have light, high-speed internet, hot water…you buy your fancy Starbucks’ coffees and eat out whenever you want. You have the luxury of having time to become a professional poker player.
How many people would kill for your situation? Wake up. You have it too easy. At least, be grateful for your situation and make the most out of it. Give your best!
If a lot of people has achieved much more in way worse situations, what’s your excuse? Perspective my friend! No excuses, no bullshit, no complaints, fuck laziness, just do it.
“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
In the end, you have to answer for yourself. The only thing that matters is being proud of yourself, being able to look back and know that you gave your best and that you didn’t surrender to laziness or procrastination or that you could have done better.
The path to success is not doing whatever you feel like every second or following every little craving of your mind.
Either you take responsibility of yourself and take action every day, or you will wake up one day full of regret and you will only see missed opportunities, wasted time and wasted potential.
Give your best every day and there will be no space for tilt and complaints.
If you want to be a professional poker player, understand the real poker’s objective and dedicate your day to establish the actions that maximize the chances to play at your best level and focus only on what you can control. Just then, success will come with time.
Pokermind is designed to help you in this path. It helps you focus on what really matters, it gives you perspective and motivation, it helps you establish performance routines that help you play at your best level and that help you improve, it helps you study your mental game and, in general, it helps you improve your relationship with poker and be satisfied with yourself.
Note: For more amazing articles from Gerard click here.
You can also follow Gerard on Instagram at: @pokermindapp.
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