Questions and Answers

AskThePRO with Erik Stenqvist

We would like to invite all our users to watch and participate in the next AskThePRO episode on TiltBook.com that will take place on Wednesday, 04.06.2014 at 17:00 CET!

You can start posting your questions right now and when the session begins, our hero will choose and answer your best and most interesting ones in a course of exactly one hour (during which you can still post more questions) at www.tiltbook.com/AskThePRO!

This week's special guest: Erik Stenqvist

Hello TiltBook,

My name is Erik Stenqvist and I am a mindset and life coach for professional poker players. I have worked 1-on-1 with about 60 clients, from recreational players to 10k NL regs. I have worked with many more through workshops, and I do regular monthly mindset coaching seminars on PokerStrategy.com.

I have played professionally for roughly seven years now. Most of my hands come from 24-tabling 6max 100NL on Pokerstars. I have traveled the world for the last five years, with poker and coaching being my only income. I have lived in southeast Asia for the last four years and one year in NYC before that. The last year or so I have moved over to HU, because HU didn't fit my mindset well, and currently play mainly 200NL-600NL. I don’t have the same passion for strategy that I used to. However, my true passion in poker is mindset coaching.

I have been doing it for about 2 years ago now. Before that I worked for 2 years solid on my own mindset and life situation to go from an introvert, anxious, and generally unhappy person. My personality type at that time struggled a lot with hesitation to grind, anger, hopelessness, and an unlimited well of being extremely hard on myself. I was able to work through most of old tilt issues and today I can proudly say that I work harder on my mindset today than I ever have.

Mindset work is different from studying strategy since every person is an individual complex mindset. Life situation, previous experiences, ego, personality, habitual negative thought patters, emotional imbalance all get put under sometimes extreme pressure when we play. What comes out, the symptoms is what we call Tilt. So if you want to change your personal relationship to poker, either you or poker will have to change. And we all know who it has to be. :)

I haven't met a single player yet that couldn't significantly improve their mindset if they applied the correct practical exercises, read up on the theory that applies to them, and put in the work. In the end it boils down to your perspective of poker and your attitude. That is something I believe anyone can change something about them that don't serve them. Mindset work for me is mostly about balance, there is no such thing as an optimal mindset. But we can easily through sample size tell what tends to work for certain personality/player types.

I'm really excited about having this opportunity of doing this AskThePro here on TiltBook. Any questions you have about mindset I will be happy to answer as best as I can. Try to keep the questions to your own mindset or the poker community in general, anything in between is a difficult gray area.

To check out all the amazing stuff Erik has to offer, visit his brand new website where you can subscribe to receive FREE Workshop On How To Improve Your Mindset Automatically.

Erik will be live on TiltBook to answer all your cool questions on Wednesday, 04.06.2014 at 17:00 CET!! at www.tiltbook.com/AskThePRO. And as always, remember the best question posted wins $20!

Sorry, you can't post questions at the moment.

Scarmaker: Hello Erik and thanks for doing the AskThePRO!! :) i read through your first post and one thing struck me as quite interesting: "I worked for 2 years solid on my own mindset and life situation to go from an introvert, anxious, and generally unhappy person" Do yo consider being an introvert as a disadvantage?
June 1, 2014 20:58
Hey Scarmaker! Thank you, my pleasure. Mice to hear from you :) I don't consider being introvert as more disadvantageous from being overly extrovert for example. The way I look at it is that I come from the background where being an introvert used to be my baseline of who I was at the time. Everyone personality type has their own strengths and weaknesses and I believe but I believe my way of trying to think my way out of the situation was something that always came naturally to me. Which makes sense because that meant that I kept everything internally and didn't share or ask anyone for help. I think that was by far my biggest leak, not reaching out to other players, friends, or family with issues or problems. I got very good at analysing things but the anxiousness and general unhappiness created a problem that the internal process of trying to solve it by thinking my way out of "it", whatever that was. Being an introvert has it's reasons, understanding that if you have this quality then realise that solving things internally by yourself will be your go to move. If that is not producing the result or hindering you too much than that only means you have to work on the quality that does not come easily to you. There is always a baseline or archetypal way for us to react and approach top poker. The more you embrace these kind of "leaks", like being an introvert, you can balance your mindset out by learning to have a more extrovert approach, if there is need for it. If you can add that to your range of properties you have more tools and another way of approaching, or other plan of attack. You would have a more complete mindset. I hope that made sense. It's hard to keep these replies short... Cheers!
 photo erikstenqvist June 2, 2014 01:20
And if anyone know how to not make it look like a wall of text let me know :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 2, 2014 01:39
Scarmaker: Also, what is the most common mindset issue you encounter when dealing with your clients?
June 1, 2014 20:59
I would say that the players that come to me tend to have a pretty solid understanding of what their main issues are. They have also owned up to the issues they are struggling and have taken action to work on their mindset. That is the biggest hurdle to overcome, to get started working on your own mind. Most players don't work nearly as much a they could on improving and optimizing themselves and their mind for poker. I think that is the biggest leak overall in the poker community, but that's easy for me to say since I coach mindset, but I do believe that is true. I also understand that not many people have had the chance of working effectively on their mindset, that's the idea of my site to provide content that allows the player to coach themselves. The biggest thing guys struggle with when already starting session is that they underestimate the power and the strength of it's habitual responses of the mind. You basically have an alarm system in your head ready to fight, play dead, or flee from that potential danger. Underestimating the momentum of it, and coming at it with the attitude of "Next time I will try harder!" is something that most of us just have to struggle with a long time before we change our ways to a fundamentally different approach than our own. We are creatures of habit and that includes the mind and how we think and feel not just our actions. So players struggle because the mind is hard to change and we are used to instant rewards. :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 2, 2014 01:38
swayzy: Hi Erik! I signed up for your newsletter, looks like great stuff. Actually I suffer very little from Tilt but I do get frustrated or angry on occasion. I've never broken anything but about once a week I'll just shout "F***" really loud. The most recent time I did it 3 times in a row and I feel like this shouldn't be necessary. On the other hand I always feel better after I do it. Is it a bad way of dealing with making a bad decision? My second question regards not playing once I've made a bunch of money. Usually if I within the first hour or two of my day I make around a k, I just waste time browsing doing random things, not feeling the need to play for another few hours. How can I not let the short winning streak affect my goals of putting in more volume?
June 2, 2014 08:56
Hey swayzy! Thank you, there is much more coming, site should be online in a day or three. But on to your questions. The first think I would take notice on is what causes the anger and and frustration to build. You might be more or less aware of this depending on the session but the three "fucks" only comes out because you allowed the pressure to build in the first place. If you had noticed the five most frustrating spots before that, and had a routine to combat the most common issues you have, and actively performed that routine every time you made a mistake then you work against the anger building. You can compare it to never letting your guard down in a fight, the routine would be something like the duck, an evasive move to avoid the tilt. The easiest way to address tilt in the session is from my experience is to have a solid "grind structure" consisting of a warm-up, break routine, anti tilt routine, and a post session review all directed at giving you structure in and around the session. On my site there will be more specific information about the grind structure and it's different parts.
 photo erikstenqvist June 2, 2014 13:25
I would also put an effort to become really knowledgeable on the fear of making mistakes if you feel you still struggle a lot with that. Understanding the issue logically doesn't do you much good when you play since emotions are illogical, you need physical techniques like posture and breathing, specific session goals backed up by alarm bells etc that mechanically remind you to reset to a correct mindset. The reset should be done multiple times per session in my opinion so it becomes habit. That it becomes habit you perform without effort and little thought is extremely important because you are preparing for the next really tough session. That's when you really need it, but if you only work on it after good sessions it will not be engrained enough to withstand the turbulence when you run bad.
 photo erikstenqvist June 2, 2014 13:34
"How can I not let the short winning streak affect my goals of putting in more volume?" It sounds like you are suffering from results orientation my friend :) I will make some assumptions here and say what the issue usually is. The main reason why people suffer from results orientation and want to protect the result when they are winning is plain and simple because the player does not feel in control because you can't control the results. But we all grow up in a "result and reward" society where if you achieve this you get that. This is something it seems like we all do because it makes perfect sense in real life, but it's not such a useful habit for poker. If you want to not pay attention to results you better actively pay as much attention as you can at something else because we are like "moths to a flame" when it comes to results. The only thing I have seen that effectively combats results orientation is disciplined and continuous hard work on improving your game. The studying makes you a better player but more than that you will feel that you are on top of things and that simple thing makes all the difference. The more you break down your game, analyse hands, meditate, implement a grind structure, find leaks you didn't know about etc will all assist in removing the results orientation. If it doesn't go away you didn't put in enough effort on the correct issues.
 photo erikstenqvist June 2, 2014 13:44
These are more general replies but there will be content on a lot of your issues on the site. :) Cheers!
 photo erikstenqvist June 2, 2014 13:44
Seda16: Hello, I never had problem with tilting, raging and stuff like that. But lately, when I feel my game is improving and in my opinion on a decent level (still studying tho), but results are not coming, I feel on myself that I am more disgusted. Broke few mouses this year (never destroyed any before), I become less focused while playing and that leads to shitty moves. What should I change in order to be focused alot more, be less raging while getting colddecked and running bad and start winning again?
June 2, 2014 18:08
Hey seda16, Without knowing more details it's a bit difficult to give anything other than general answers. If you haven't been playing bad, and a re a winning player your are probably just running bad. If you feel that you deserve to win since you are a better player and studying harder so you should be rewarded for it then that's quite a tricky issue to overcome. To me this is usually problem that connects more to attitude than anything else. Is see you play MTT's so that one of the most difficult formats since you can go along time without getting a good finish. The only medicine is to study even harder, the more you study the more you will feel in control. From your second question below it sounds like you are quite "results oriented". I would first of all find all the material you can on that subject, go out and find 3 people that had your issue and overcame them. Then you try all of their techniques and figure out an approach that work for you. -- Reply continues below.
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 16:46
Seda16: When I am on a downswing, I feel bad. I am not looking forward to much stuff, not looking forward to play and always start with a feeling "it still same shit", but I when I bink something, everything turns around and I have much better attitude not to poker only, but life. How do I make that poker is not affecting my feelings?
June 2, 2014 18:10
First of all you have to ask yourself; "How come this affects me so much when I know logically that this shouldn't affect me?" If it's not a logical problem it is probably an emotional illogical one. If you focus too much on results and play MTT's you will always have these feelings. If you want to change your attitude towards these issues there needs to be more acceptance and appreciation for the game. That might not sound like much but that's pretty much what we have to work with on an issue like this. If poker didn't feel like "it still the same shit" a year or two ago for example the chances are you started to assume you should win, put too much pressure on yourself. This is difficult to answer since I have no details on your specific situation. it sounds like your life might not be in balance between poker and social life for example. That is quite common when someone is results oriented. If you studied mindset before then you can ask more specific questions. If you haven't really studied mindset before and focus mostly on strategy then there is a lot of material out there on all your issues, i would begin there. Hard work is not good enough when it comes to mindset, you have to study the right things so become an expert on all these issues first. You have to put in the work. Meditation is also the number one thing I recommend to every poker player, youtube has tons of guided meditations. Hope that made sense :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 16:59
Scarmaker: Also, I do post this question every time and I am very interested to read yor answer as for the live scenarios - what are the main leaks that other regs have that you think you have made the most money off?
June 2, 2014 21:26
Well I have to say that where I have made my money is basically because I studied and worked on my own mindset for so long and hardly no one else does. I meditate multiple times per day, I look hard for new material, I have a close group around me that give me honest and direct feedback (because I ask for it) on anything that affects my game. I seem to have a willingness to put in difficult work on changing my attitude and mindset to a stronger one. By difficult work I mean working on my weaknesses, for me that has always been that i was too nitty from mass tabling 6-max. Then I moved over to HU and the biggest reason was that i anted to play a format that didn't fit my mindset, and now I'm a better player both strategy and mindset wise. But i had to work really hard to become good at HU. So my answer is that the main leak of other regs is their mindset. Most regs are good in strategy and there is nowhere near as much edge as there was only a few years ago. But if you look and the mindset landscape you have see an infinite amount of leaks with professional players not having warm-up routines, break routines, post session reviews, don't study enough or on their biggest leaks, that don't work on their tilt, don't have a network of close poker players where they can get feedback, the list is endless on how much is lacking in the soft skills of poker. If there was a stat in holdem manager that magically showed everyone how much they lost every month because of not playing their A- or B-game, not putting in enough volume, or tilt for example I think everyone would study mindset a whole lot more. We all know what we should work on but we often don't. It's believe it's all about continuous work so we improve out attitude and set new positive habits.
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 17:16
SanderSmets: Is there a big difference in emotional swings when you compare online and live poker?
June 3, 2014 20:47
From my experience it depends solely on the player. Live is probably a bit scarier the first time for most players since there are people there if you amke a mistake whereas you can just hide behind the computer screen online. One interesting thing i have noticed that many player tilt for different reasons live than online. For example suck outs when all in seems to annoy people more live than online.
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 17:19
SanderSmets: What is your single best trick to go back to the tables after you wanted to break your computerscreen, trow your mouse away, and hate the whole world because you were tilting like crazy? That would help me link a lot :D (and alcohol is not a good trick, however, I'm not tilting than anymore)
June 3, 2014 20:53
Well I would put all my energy on why you tilted in the first place. if you are trying to fix the problem after you tilted you didn't take "responsibility" for what happened before you wanted to decapitate your loyal computer screen :) You need to rewind and really own up to what happened on day like that. If you put in the time to break down exactly what happened that day (and possibly many previous others) and discuss it with other players for example you will have an easier time to diagnose what tilts you so bad. I said this in an earlier answer above but I'll mention it again. There is that much material on poker and mindset. I would just aim at getting as good as mindset as you are in strategy. check out my video series on pokerstrategy.com for example, it's free all on mindset. Just get started, same as when you learned to play poker. :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 17:25
iceman: Thanks for sharing your time and experience with us, Erik. After I've had a bad session I often find myself anxious before starting another. So other than calling it a day a gaining my composure, what else would you advise doing in between sessions, so that I can come back more refreshed and mentally ready for the next session?
June 4, 2014 09:42
Meditation is a great way start to work on quieting anxiousness, but it sometimes takes time to reap the benefits so it's important to stay with it. When it comes to results orientation it's really important to constantly be improving you game, mindset, and poker setup. I would also focus on having a good post session review where you recap the session from mindset and strategy perspective. That often helps letting go of negative emotions after a session. Hard workouts is also one of the few things that work for me after a really bad session. Since i have struggled with that issue myself but hardly anymore I just have to say that you need to face that anxiousness head on. You need to embrace it and not wait for it to go away. This is probably connected to your personality so dealing with that both inside and outside poker is the way to go. Again since i don't know anything about your situation it's hard to give a precise remedy. It's not one thing you need to look at it;s the holistic picture of you the player, what you bring from outside of poker to the tables fro previous sessions, and your routine around poker. Hope that gave some new ideas :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 17:33
iceman: Also, being someone that has suffered from anxiety yourself, what sort of therapy would you recommend to someone who suffers from GAD?
June 4, 2014 09:47
Unfortunately I don't feel qualified to answer this question and there is probably much better sources than me. For me personally meditation has been the key together with work hard on the deeper underlying emotions of worry and fear that was the core of my anxiety. Sorry to not being able to give a better answer on this. Cheers!
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 17:37
SanderSmets: What can you do to prepare for a though session, and prevent to tilt, even is you have the worst run ever... ?
June 4, 2014 17:07
There are certain things that you can implement to confine your tilt issues like warm-up routines, session goals, post session reviews, and structured breaks so you can reset. Then continuous hard studying is a cornerstone here. I would study the reasons why you tilt and why you get affected by this form of tilt in the first place. What are the first signs you can see that you are going on tilt? These are so many small details to take into account and it is different for every single player. All the things I mentioned and many are covered in thorough detail in books and videos already out on poker mindset, i would begin by reading up on that. And start meditating, it's the nuts for poker.
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 17:44
blender803: hello there!do you play live poker?if yes what`s your strategy against the opponents psychological speaking? i mean how do you observe your opponents?it`s easy for you to catch someone who is bluffing?
June 4, 2014 17:54
I have very little live experience since we never had any real casinos in Sweden so I always stuck to online. I will go to a few different places around Asia and play live as soon as I have a chance. :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 18:04
blender803: what do you think about preflop game?how % do you think that preflop play influence your game?
June 4, 2014 17:55
I'm sorry but I don't think I understand the question. Are you talking about strategy or mindset? :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 18:06
blender803: what do you think that is your "factor x" if i can say in poker?[something that makes you better:P]
June 4, 2014 17:56
Nothing more than hard work, especially on boring or tedious things. I work really hard on setting habits like a morning routine that really puts me in a good mindset for the day. I get up around 5:30-6:30am, walk/run, do some yoga etc, meditate, go for a coffee, write out a todo list for the day. And I had to put effort into so it's something I do every day. It might not be the best setup for someone else but for me it works perfect. You have to find your own x-factor. :)
 photo erikstenqvist June 4, 2014 18:09

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