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Jared Tendler

academy Psychology

get in The Zone

In the Zone The easiest way to keep yourself in the zone is to get rid of the things that take you out of it. The first step is to describe and note down what it’s like when you are at your mental peak. Once you’ve done this you then need to write out what you’re like at your absolute worst over a large sample, e.g. 6 months, so you can find out the true range in your mental game. Then, by steadily eliminating the worst aspects of your mental game, you’ll automatically find yourself in the zone more frequently. That doesn’t mean you’ll be playing

Playing at the peak of your mental and tactical abilities should be the goal of every poker player. In this month’s article Jared Tendler breaks down how to consistently play in the zone.


he zone” is often thought of as a mystical Eden of salvation. A utopia of focus, confidence, and skill where things always go your way and your game is at an incredibly high level. When you’re playing in the zone things seem to slow down, it feels like the action is constantly flowing through you and you’re always able to think one step ahead of your opponents. When you’re in this state it’s obviously great as winning seems easy, indeed, one of the things I’m asked most is: “how can I play my A-game all the time?” To answer this we first need to understand the theory behind the idea of being “in the zone.”

The performance-stress curve looks at the relationship between performance and arousal, or energy level, and states that as arousal increases so does performance; but only up until a certain point. Looking at the graph you can see that the ideal level, or the zone, is at the very top of the graph. Looking at the graph you can see that the ideal level, or the zone, is at the very top of the graph. This is where a player’s energy level is high enough (but not too high or low) to meet the pressures of high level poker. While being in the zone feels easy, it doesn’t mean the person is relaxed. Being relaxed won’t get you into the zone because don’t have enough energy to focus and


at your best every day, but you can use the days where you’re mentally off, and not playing well, to identify and work on your mental weaknesses. How do you get rid of the negative stuff that occurs when you’re at your very worst? Well, if you’ve been following my articles over the past year you’ll already have the answers. Alongside these articles you can purchase my new book, The Mental Game of Poker, and eliminate all the potentially damaging elements of your game such as tilt, motivation, fear and focus, thus becoming a stronger overall player.


Making sure you focus on all the areas of your game and constantly define and redefine your faults is the key to becoming a well-rounded poker player.

Other Ways to Get into the Zone Play in tough games: Phil Galfond has talked about playing in challenging games in order to force you into performing at a higher level. It obviously works. Think about it, if you’re a competitive person and you put yourself in a tough situation you’re going to rise to that challenge. You need to be careful that you don’t enter into a situation that’s too stressful, however. Finding a balance is crucial and will help you play at a much higher level mentally.

Prepare yourself mentally before you play: play your best. When your energy level is say 30, you just don’t have the energy to think as much as you would at your peak. Thus, the zone is marked at 50 on the chart. However, on the other side of the curve, if your state of arousal reaches 80, because of being fearful in a huge pot or tilting from several bad beats, then you’re going to perform poorly. Therefore, the goal is to balance yourself at the top. However, this isn’t easy because of various factors dragging you down or tipping you over the edge.

A Moving Target What people fail to realize about the zone is that it is a moving target. The quality of your mindset in the zone actually continues to grow as you

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Jared’s book gives you all the information you need to become a complete poker player. Visit www. themental gameofpoker. com

improve your mental game. As you get rid of the weaknesses in your mental game your ability to reach new levels of thinking, focus, and intensity grow. Therefore, it is wrong to think of the zone as an end point. Understanding this is important because it helps you to define what is required in order to maintain of zone-like state consistently.

Before each session set yourself very clear goals around focus. Make sure you’re only thinking about poker and there are no outside distractions.

Connect to your long-term goals: Professional athletes are constantly setting and focusing on their long-term goals. This helps them remain focused on their training and gives them a fuel to continue striving for perfection. Making sure you have large goals and that you connect with them will ensure that you always have a strong level of focus.

Visualise: Taking two minutes before a session to imagine yourself in a perfect mindset state can help you enter the zone and should be built into your pre-game routine.





Jared’s new book, The Mental Game of Poker, is out now. To find out more, visit

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Achieving a state of complete focus and concentration is a process defined by finding the optimum level of pressure and eliminating any weaknesses in your game. Getting into the zone is

When You’re on a Roll When you’re in the zone and things go well people often forget they have weaknesses.

However, this isn’t the case as you always have relative weaknesses in your game. If you’re challenging yourself in tougher games then that’s where any weaknesses are going to show up. In order to keep pushing yourself and playing in the zone you have to constantly be eliminating your weaknesses. Recognising any weaknesses helps to bring a sense of reality to the situation and helps keep the momentum going. If you let the momentum carry you along then once you hit a speed bump, which will happen, and it will come as a shock. This can then leave you at a loss of what to do in order to get back on track. However, if you’re still aggressively attacking weakness while you’re playing in the zone, then you can easily get back into it by eliminating the tactical or mental game weaknesses.

a constantly shifting ideal because as you improve so does your functioning in the zone. Taking steps to identify your practical and psychological weaknesses will ensure you get into the zone more often and stay there.

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Get In the Zone  
Get In the Zone  

Playing at the peak of your mental and tactical abilities should be the goal of every poker player. In this month’s article, I break down ho...