Book Review: The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jun 04, 2012 Posted in Reviews | No Comments »

Since the poker boom there have been countless poker manuals that have hit the bookshelves, covering everything from No Limit Holdem (a very popular topic) to more specific entries like short-handed PLO games and shove/fold strategies in poker tournaments. But even with the hundreds of poker books that have hit the market in the past half-dozen years, one particular aspect of the game has been all but completely overlooked, the mental part of poker… Well, overlooked until the release of Jared Tendler’s The Mental Game of Poker in 2011.

Before I get into the content let me touch on the book design and construction. Jared Tendler co-wrote the book with poker journalist Barry Carter, and self-published it as well. Overall the book is well constructed, well edited, and extremely well-written. For a first-time publisher I was extremely impressed with the page stock, graphics, and visual aids included throughout. The chapters and headers are laid out nicely, and the use of bold text, text boxes, and bulleted lists was absolutely perfect.

The Mental Game of Poker is a new type of poker book, and unlike the other poker psychology books that have been attempted over the years, The Mental Game of Poker doesn’t simply offer some philosophical ideas on dealing with tilt or staying patient and calm at the poker tables. Instead the book is designed to solve your mental game problems by finding the root causes and increase your awareness of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the mental game of poker. The Mental Game of Poker has advanced this part of the game as much as Doyle Brunson’s Super System did for poker strategy.

As soon as I began reading the Mental Game of Poker I knew this was going to be an interesting and thought-provoking read. The text begins with an introduction chapter, followed by a detailed explanation on how people learn and the best methods to go about improving your poker game (whether it’s strategic or mental) and this topic is continually revisited and applied to the individual mental games problems covered in subsequent chapters of the book.

Throughout the book Tendler does a masterful job of acting as a mentor, a motivational speaker, and a no-nonsense judge presiding over your mental game acumen. Even though the tone can sometimes be hard-nosed and critical, the overall theme is one of improvement and encouragement. So don’t expect to be coddled while reading the Mental Game of Poker, but don’t worry about thinking, “this guy thinks I suck at poker” either. The book will make you take a long, hard, honest, look in the mirror for sure, but in the end you’ll be a better poker player for having done so.

This approach is backed-up by a number of “Client Stories” where top-tier poker players talk about how Jared changed their thinking and improved their poker games –Some of these stories are absolutely riveting and showcase how even the best players have trouble in this area of the game, and have had to overcome their own struggles with the mental game. Among the players who detail their work with Jared Tendler are Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt, Matt “mbolt” Bolt, Jordan “IMsoLuckyO” Morgan, Niman “Samoleus” Kenkre, and the co-author of the book Barry Carter.

The Mental Game of Poker is the most complete look at tilt (and a number of other important emotions that poker players fall victim to) ever written, and explains the numerous types of tilt players will go through, as well as looking at the myriad causes of tilt. Tendler covers some never before seen topics in great detail such as revenge-tilt and entitlement tilt, and even how to use tilt to IMPROVE your play.

Clocking in at 240 pages there is a lot of material to read through, and the book will likely require multiple readings to absorb everything. Also, don’t expect this to be your typical two-night read: The Mental Game of Poker contains ZERO fluff, and is somewhat interactive –at numerous times you’ll be asked to write down things and explore your own experiences and thoughts on different subjects.

Overall, this is MUST read if you are serious poker player, or have any aspirations of becoming one. In an interview with Jared he talked about volume 2 of The Mental Game of Poker and I’m already counting down the days until it is released. You can read the entire interview HERE.

Purchase The Mental Game of Poker at (paperback, kindle, and audio versions available)

You can also purchase the book from Jared Tendler’s website:

The Mental Game of Poker is also available as an audio book, at and at iTunes, as well as on Kindle (although I recommend getting the print version since it contains some charts, graphs, and other visual aids that may not convert well on Kindle).

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