Keep Your Eyes on the Prize Playing Poker and the Ponies . September 2011 . Vol 12 . No. 9

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Keep Your Eyes on the Prize Playing Poker and the Ponies

By T. Dana Smith (for Howard Schwartz) - Gambler's Book Shop Las Vegas

No matter what your gambling game of choice, staying focused and confident will help you make it to the winners’ circle. Two new releases show you how to get there more often and with more money in your pocket than ever before.

Jared Tendler, who coaches hundreds of poker players, has put his maxims where his mouth is in his new book, The Mental Game of Poker, which he wrote with Barry Carter (242 pgs, $49.95). “Poker is one of the only games in the world where you can play perfectly and lose,” Tendler maintains, which is why it’s so important to overcome problems such as tilt, variance and fear that are often concomitant to the game.

“Jared doesn’t spout feel-good mumbo-jumbo,” says Cardrunners podcaster Jeremiah Smith. “He peels back your poker-playing layers to identify and address your specific issues.” That’s quite a recommendation for a book that deals only with the psychological aspects rather than the strategy of the game—but it is well founded. In eight definitive chapters, Tendler gives sound advice and effective methods for escaping the mental traps that poker players are so prone to fall into.

He opens by giving players a “process model” in alignment with the ALM (Adult Learning Model) whereby adults move from an unconscious lack of competence to unconscious competence. The model has five steps: prepare, perform, get results, evaluate them, and then analyze how to improve your game. Simple, no—it requires concerted effect. Effective, yes.

Since one of the most crippling “diseases” that poker players contract is tilt—which Tendler partially defines as anger plus bad play—a major part of the book is designed to teach players how to cure the dreaded illness. He dissects it and then gives remedies for seven types of tilt: running bad tilt, injustice tilt, hate-hosing tilt, mistake tilt, revenge tilt, desperation tilt, and entitlement tilt. “Classic Phil Hellmuth (entitlement) tilt is caused by believing that you deserve to win X, Y, or Z. Winning is a possession and you tilt when someone undeserving takes it from you,” he writes.

Overcoming your own tilt tendencies is important enough, but “understanding another player’s mental game leaks can help you create an edge” co-author Carter adds. Sprinkled with testimonials from highly successful, big-money poker players, The Mental Game of Poker delivers on its promise to give you proven strategies for curing the ailments that all players suffer riding the emotional seesaw of poker. Grab hold of this one before the seesaw lets your game down with a hard landing.

Players who love betting the ponies have a treat in store with The Horseracing Formula, (168 pgs, $12.95). Walter Gibson, the talented author of The Shadow pulp fiction character, has written classic works in several fields, including horseracing and other forms of gambling. In its continuing effort to revamp its library of classic gaming titles, Gamblers Book Club Press has reissued this book, updating and restyling it for today’s scene.

Gibson gives his readers the inside skinny on how to win at the track with 25 systems that have proven profitable for professional handicappers, including the added-factors system, the moving-up method, weight-rating system, and a simple system for how to discover and bet long-shots. He also explains several progressive betting systems, both slow and fast, that appeal to players who want to parlay their wins.

The chapter on middle odds and overlays, which includes how to bet coupled entries and second- and third-best horses, is particularly useful to more experienced bettors. Gibson puts the icing on the cake with an excellent treatise on how to bet and win the elusive daily double so popular at the tracks.

Dotted with definitive charts and helpful maxims, this is one handicapping book that should be on every serious horseracing bettor’s bookshelf.

These books are available at Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at or phone the store at 1-800-522-1777 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip. View the store's complete line of books, CDs, videos and software at the web site.