welcome to stop tilt poker.

'how to stop gambling now'

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Card Suits

Sid Harris

Specialist Practitioner

in Neuro Hypnotic Repatterning
One to One Poker Coaching & Tuition
Gain total confidence in total confidence

You can win!

"When the pupil is ready
the teacher appears."

- ZEN Proverb

Multi-tournament Winner
and Author, Sid Harris
South of England Champion
EPT finalist, GUKPT finalist,
Cashed in UKIPT,
Cashed in WSOP.
Let Sid Harris take you
to the next level.

Play your 'A' Game all the time
with Neuro Linguistic Coaching.
Give yourself every chance!
All I'm out to prove is that you
can win and win again and again!
Speed up your poker evolution!
Contact Sid Harris Now!
Tel: 07522 772 496
( Confidentiality assured )

"A man is the product of his thoughts
what he thinks he becomes."

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The hardest thing to bring to the table is your ‘A’ Game.”
- T. J. Cloutier

“The worst thing to bring to the table is Negativity.”
- Sid Harris

Before we even start, lets put negativity where it belongs, completely out of our minds. Not only do we have no room for negativity in our poker, we definitely have no room for it in our lives whatsoever.

If you’re not 100% positive about your game, don’t play! If you’re praying for a run of luck to give you confidence, keep praying, but don’t hold your breath. In fact, take a deep breath, the following sentence is a paragraph!

Poker is one long game, it’s a thousand consecutive marathons, not a hundred meter dash, but the wonderful thing about it is, you only have to play one hand at a time, unless you’re an internet grinder playing nine screens, in which case you have my total respect for your enterprise and diligence, but your game would be far from the realms of my expertise; as I specialise in live games with a deep stack and a long clock where over a few games, luck evens out, stamina comes into play and your ‘A’ Game prevails. Both live and internet players benefit from neuro linguistic coaching.

"Like success, failure is many things to many people. With Positive Mental Attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which you get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again."
- W. Clement Stone

At one point or another the greatest poker players in the world have gone on tilt. Their emotions override their ability to think critically and they have no greater enemy at the table than themselves.

'Critically' is the operative word here. The greatest asset any player has, is the critical evaluation of the game's ongoing dynamic. In a matter of seconds the hunter becomes the hunted, and the fear that one wrong move can mean the end of the tournament adds the emotional pressure that makes rational thinking almost impossible.

Tilt scenario works in many ways, probably the best illustration is the following: The player has a bad beat, loses a good percentage of his chips, then plays a hand badly depleting his stack further. This engenders the war of the worlds to take place in his brain and the player then seeks to punish himself for his bad play. Apart from losing his table image, which he was beginning to believe in himself, he's losing the plot.

The player is starting to think kamikaze and the other players know this; they can smell the fear.

Mr. Cool has become Mr. Crazy and is starting to believe that Lady Luck might put things right for him. The big stack of five minutes ago is now a small stack, only worthy of an all-in move. A hand he would have mucked five minutes ago is now looking like his passport back into the game. This is a nightmare - let's stop it here.

No matter how good the strategy, players play better while their chip stack is increasing, they feel good, it's a basic emotion. The same basic emotion goes into reverse when their chip stack depletes, the chip stack can be regarded as a barometer of the feel good factor.

Human beings without emotion only exist if they are severely brain damaged, emotion is an integral part of being human. It's our heart and soul!

It has to be remembered that poker is just a game, and in order to play at our best we have to know how to isolate our emotions while playing.

Emotions/tilt can be totally controlled in the poker environment, it's somewhere between a science and an art but it can be done quite effortlessly.

You have come to the right place to totally control your game.

"A man who is master of himself can end sorrow as easily as he can invent pleasure.
I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions.
I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them."

- Oscar Wilde

The players I have been able to help so far,
fell into the following categories:

The question is: Can I help you?

A five minute telephone call is all we need to establish if we can work together; there’s usually a waiting time of three to four weeks before we can get together. One intensive two hour meeting is all that is necessary to have you playing your ‘A’ Game consistently. Both live and internet players benefit from neuro linguistic coaching. (I will also be in Las Vegas in December 2010.)

or ring me on: 07522 772 496 (Confidentiality Assured)

2001 A Poker Odyssey

In 2001 at the age of 56 I took up the game of Poker (Texas Holdem) as every TV commentator on the game will tell you, it takes an hour or so to learn and a lifetime to master. Had I known about the lifetime implications, I would have taken the game up a lot earlier in life.

Nevertheless, I gave the game my best shot and within five years I was rated third in Europe (in the over fifty-fives) no mean achievement when the two players rated above me were the legendary Willy Tann, 2004 European Champion and Mickey Wernick, 2005 European Champion; who'd been playing all of their adult lives.

Here's what Vicky Coren says about me in her 2009 book, For Richer For Poorer," I like Sid. He's old-school. He lives in Hove and writes books about racing. Been playing for a long time. He's like a classic Vic player. I've never actually seen him at the cash game at the Vic, but he would fit right in. Looks right. Talks right. Not one of these crazy teenage Swedes. No mindless all-in, all-in, just for the sake of aggression. Thoughtful, gradual poker. And he seems like such a nice man. I don't really want to knock him out." But bless her, she did, and then went on to win. Vicky and I have history though. A few years earlier in a tournament, I beat her, in a close run race, into second place; although the pay day was far less than the half million pound first prize in the EPT. That tournament boasted an illustrious field which included four European Champions. Hopefully Vicky and I will clash and cash again; we stand at one all, but next time we meet, no more Mr. Nice-Guy; Vicky will be coming second.

" Harris clearly knows the game inside out ..."
- John O'Hara, Racing Post Weekender.

"Any fool knows that bravado is a cover up for insecurity."
- Bobby Darin

To begin with, bravado is all that a poker player has, it's much like a security blanket which can only be disposed of when replaced by true confidence. Bravado at the outset is a necessary evil, but if the poker gods are famous for anything, it's giving beginners a brief taste of success, which serves to fuel their bravado - these beginners have no idea what the poker gods have in store next - but you and I have an inkling!

Having mistaken their run of beginner's luck for talent, they blame bad luck for their demise. With no foundation to build on - their poker becomes erratic.

Amazingly and thankfully over 90% of poker players never let go of the security blanket, they are the fish that believe in luck, their game oscillates between bravado and depression, you only have to look at their demeanour to know exactly where they are in the cycle. In effect: they are not playing the game, the game is playing them. One of the most amusing phenomena is when these players criticise each other; it's difficult to distinguish the half-wit from the dim-wit.

The irony is that these players could have their game turned around quite easily, but it would be counter productive for any winning player to help them; in so doing relinquishing their source of income; these flop watching players are their manna from heaven. The luck in poker is having one or two of these characters, who are on a downer, at your table. You don't need Mike Caro to point them out, a child could read the expressions on their faces.

"A child of five would understand this, send someone to fetch a child of five."
- Groucho Marx

"Sell a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man how to fish,
you ruin a wonderful business opportunity."

- Karl Marx

"A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug."
- Patricia Neal

Any athlete or sportsman with a negative attitude need not bother to compete. They have lost before they leave home!

It is inexplicable why poker players should think their attitude has no bearing on the way they play. Maybe it's because they can always blame their bad performance on bad luck.

I might be able to illustrate this better by enlisting the help of River Ron. A few years ago when £40,000 was quite a big first prize for a poker tournament, River Ron came second in a tournament and won £20,000. (He should have come first but that's another story.) As we left the Casino, a friend of mine (a notoriously tight player) told me he had not seen a playable hand all night. My reply was - "Neither had River Ron!"

Ron was three-betting before the internet wunder-kinder were born. Ron was hard work, but he was a one man learning curve for his opponents. Ron didn't need cards to win he just needed to hit the river, which as his name denotes, he often did. Most people who played Ron thought that he believed in luck, but he most definitely did not. Ron believed in Ron. His confidence was rarely dented, he knew his style of play would either get him chips or an early bath, he believed in his style of play; he saw poker as one long game, and he loved the consternation that his aggressive game invoked. I only saw Ron go on tilt once and, it cost him £20,000, (That's when he came second when he should have won). Ron's positivity made him a winning tournament player; unfortunately instead of going home for the early bath he would often stop over to play roulette; a game where all the positivity in the world couldn't help him win.

"Spirit has fifty times the strength and staying-power of brawn and muscle."
- Mark Twain

"The ultimate creative capacity of the brain may be,
for all practical purposes, infinite."

- George B. Leonard

It would be easy to think that ultra-aggressive players are intrinsically confident players, in the main they are not, they follow a strategy that suits their alter-egos and they are more prone to go on tilt than tight players who reside at the other end of the spectrum. Being stuck in either one of these modes of play is not advisable, it makes a player totally predictable.

Optimum play holds the middle ground with an occasional foray to each end of the spectrum, they call it mixing up your game, something you don’t even need to think about; as it should be dictated by the dynamic of the table, position, relative chip stacks and the fact that time marches on and the blinds keep rising, not to mention the odds of the hand you were dealt being viable in the first instance.

Fortunately you have the greatest computer in the world to work all of this out, your brain! Indeed, by the time you have played for a year you have amassed enough poker data for your unconscious to process this information in a millisecond, the problem is transferring this information through the part of your brain that deals with emotions and into your conscious mind.

This is where Neuro Linguistic Coaching comes into the equation. It can virtually eliminate tilt, that means your conscious mind can access your unconscious mind without tilt (emotion) getting in the way of the process, you can make an instant decision (gut instinct). Once made, this decision can be implemented in a calm and measured way.

Positive emotion helps this to happen, negative emotion destroys your chip stack, as your mind wanders through self induced nightmares. Luck or the lack of it can’t be blamed for bad play, faulty thinking is the culprit! Intuition is your friend!

"Intuition is perception via the unconscious."
- Carl Jung

The moment the sublime encountered the subliminal!

"A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day back in 1896. I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in; on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on! She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but a month hasn't gone by since, that I haven't thought of that girl."

The above enduring dialogue from the film Citizen Caine, written by: Herman Mankiewicz, has touched the souls of millions. The evocation of these memories resonates with every feeling person. Although she is never seen and only spoken of, by Caine’s ageing solicitor, it would be difficult for anybody with a brain, not to be able to visualise the girl, this fictional character, in a movie, only glimpsed for one second, forty years earlier.

We are our thoughts, feelings and memories. In all of the thousands of poker players I have met, I have yet to meet the player with ice in his veins, although Phil Ivey comes pretty close. When you're a few feet across the table from Ivey, it's very different to seeing him play on television. Those eyes burn into your soul, once you've looked into them for a second, you're going to remember them forever.

I can only relate Ivey's eyes to those of a lion that came within two feet of my car at Longleat. That lion's eyes stared right through me and with one flick of its tail, which had the consistency of a steel hawser, the lion disposed of my wing mirror. My car had never gone, so quickly, from nought to fifty.

I'm not going to be able to turn the average Joe into Phil Ivey, but I'm sure I can turn him into a contender. One day, that average Joe might be sitting a few feet from Phil Ivey and, because of the vagaries of luck, who knows?

“I could have been a contender”
- Marlon Brando.
( from: On the Waterfront - Budd Schulberg )

"The brain is wider than the sky."
- Emily Dickinson

You would have heard the phrase a thousand times “You only use ten per cent of your brain". It just so happens that, when it comes to our conscious brain, a thousand is more likely to be the operative number. While our unconscious works at full capacity, our conscious only skims the surface, using something like a thousandth of the brain’s capacity. We can only utilise so much brain power in the here and now, without going into overload and having a breakdown. There is a limit! Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Mozart and Einstein would have skimmed deeper than the rest of us, but even if they managed to utilise twice as much brain power as us, they would have still been only using somewhere in the region of two, one-thousandths of the brain’s overall capacity. The secret of the illustrious aforementioned, was their ability to access their unconscious by moving into the Alpha state. Creative writers, who are diligent, go there every day, it’s a place of great wonder, it’s a creative powerhouse. Poker players know this state of consciousness as the Zone.

You are familiar with the Alpha state, it’s that moment when you awaken and can still grasp the remnants of a fading dream. The Alpha state is that pathway from your conscious to your unconscious. The trick is to access this pathway, virtually at will, but unfortunately that is not always possible, not at the very moment you need to. The level of relaxation needed to achieve the Alpha state isn’t conducive to the pressures of a poker game. Heightened emotion is the biggest block to reaching the Alpha state. That’s why tilt (emotion) inhibits good decision making. Neuro Linguistic Coaching bring you closer to accessing the pathway(s) you need. You can then fix mistakes and make well informed decisions. You actually know the answers, it’s just a matter of achieving the right state of mind to access them.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used in creating them.”
- Albert Einstein

"Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect."
- Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Tournament Poker is one long game, it can only be judged on a sequence of games. You can only assess your performance by your results over a period of time. Instant gratification is not on the agenda. You cannot have your life dictated to by the vagaries of luck, which evens out in time.

Your favourite hand ~A~A, played against one isolated opponent, with a lesser hand, will lose 160 times every 1000 times you play it. This of course means that when you come up against ~A~A, your lesser hand will win 160 times in 1000, not something to moan about, pretty fair if you ask me, it cuts both ways.

Poor players become obsessed with luck, in effect it is their excuse, when they occasionally win a pot they claim they have played brilliantly, when they lose, it’s down to bad luck, the only way for a player to improve is to be brutally honest with his or herself. The road to success is never to make the same mistake twice, Neuro Linguistic Coaching can virtually eradicate the possibility of the same mistake being repeated. It’s easy to improve! Every blunder you make needs to be traced back to its very inception, you then ask yourself if you should have been in the hand to start with. It’s a fact, that we can only improve by not repeating our mistakes, the problem is that players, who don’t want to admit to being fallible, can’t improve! You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool yourself once. It’s important for a player to iron out idiosyncratic modes of play, otherwise they become so ingrained that the player thinks they are an integral part of his or her personality.

"I don't believe in luck, only the immutable law of averages."
- Herbert O Yardley

" A man who has committed a mistake
and doesn't correct it, is committing another mistake."
"When you have faults do not fear to abandon them."

- Confucius

Devoted to their own destruction!

No limit holdem live tournaments have become more popular and lucrative than ever, engendering masses of poker information on the internet and no end of, edited for effect, televised games spawning legions of stereotypical players who have all read the same books. Most players have become armed with enough information to gradually destroy themselves.

Information overkill has dulled their senses and blunted their brains, as they play a cobbled together script of set pieces while slowly relinquishing their creativity. The host of newly invented poker-babble phrases such as, texture of flop, expected value, possible value, intrinsic value, partial value, vague value, Victor Value, etc. etc. Makes me wonder how Stu Unger managed to learn to play. It all serves to confuse!

As sure as no two faces are the same on this planet, no two poker players can play the same way. The differences may sometimes be subtle, but a deep understanding of these differences can only come with real experience, not by watching edited highlights of TV poker games; a lot more could probably be learnt by the footage that litters the cutting room floor. Televised poker is great entertainment and marvellous for attracting new players, but a poor learning tool.

A long time could be spent in the wilderness, reaching new levels of frustration while attempting to take down the glittering prizes. Nietzche said, “What doesn't destroy you makes you stronger,” but I can’t see the point of prolonged suffering; your character was set in stone by the time you were eight years old, along with most traits of your personality, suffering is not part of learning; not when you can find a direct route to your goal that is virtually immediate.

"It's easier to leap if you're already dancing."
- Rain Bojangles

"Often you have to rely on intuition."
- Bill Gates

The internet is now the engine that powers the live game. Internet players eventually want to play live, having seen the amazing success of those internet players who have already made the transition. Considering the millions of internet players waiting in the wings, the words tip and iceberg come to mind. (Only 2% of internet players make a profit)

As players realise that the only, really skilful, game in town is a deep stack freezeout played over a period of days. Live poker looks like it is about to have a very bright future. Many old-school players have found it hard to get their heads around the new kids on the block, personally I think they are fabulous, they have brought new life into the game.

Some of my very best friends get their living on the internet by playing the nuts on multiple tables, they play consistently and their discipline amazes me. It’s a job of work that I don't envy. I liken playing on the internet, to trawler fishing for mackerel, whereas I liken playing live, to fly fishing for salmon.

The more intuitive a poker player is, the greater their chance of success - internet poker could easily dull the intuition of a live player. A problem that can be reversed!

"Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought
and leaps straight from the problem to the answer."

- Robert Graves

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."
"The only real valuable thing is intuition."

- Albert Einstein

In the past three years, apart from recovering from a hip replacement, I have been rethinking my approach to poker while refining my Neuro Linguistic Coaching technique.

Although many top sportsmen and athletes are benefiting from the use of Neuro Linguistics to improve performance. I believe that no pursuit is more in accord with the technique than poker, as it is a direct route to effortless problem solving. Feedback and results over the last year have been heartening, with success and improvement coming from players at all levels.

The real breakthrough came with the discovery of exactly how easily each player could fix their own poker problems once they could separate emotion from good judgement. Most players could not believe how much insight they actually had into their own problems. Because each player is unique, so are their problems, and no one is more qualified to fix these problems than the players themselves.

For me the journey has been fascinating, I am grateful to everybody who became involved from the outset; as a common thirst for knowledge seemed to overtake us. It’s a good thing that we had poker player’s stamina, as we invariably worked through many nights.

If you think I might be able to help you, a five minute telephone call is all that is needed to establish if we can work together; there’s usually a waiting time of three to four weeks before we can get together. One intensive two hour meeting is all that is necessary to have you playing your ‘A’ Game consistently. Both live and internet players benefit from neuro linguistic coaching. (I will also be in Las Vegas in December 2010.)

or ring me on: 07522 772 496 (Confidentiality Assured)

"When prosperity comes, don't use all of it."
- Confucius

"Every person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent."
- Sigmund Freud
(Freud, famous for making simple sentences complicated.)

It's a little known fact, that because of the way they wish to be perceived, some of the top poker players in the world are not at all keen on disclosing that they have hired the services of a coach. It's a matter of ego!

Ego and table image go hand in hand. Coaching sessions take place behind closed doors, not at the rail. To admit that they need help would make them appear weak and poker is a game where you cannot afford to look weak. No player would want another player to even suspect that he might have an Achilles heel.

Poker player's egos approximate to the psychotic to a greater not a lesser extent. That is what makes the game so interesting. First and foremost, poker is a mind game, the cards are just incidental.

I once got into an elevator in Vegas with Scotty Nguyen; we were alone, so I asked him the question I ask every top player when I get the chance, "What's the secret Scotty?" Scotty replied, "It's easy baby, you pick on the weak ones, when I get to the table, I look for the guy who will get me through the next hour."

"I like the moment when I break a man's ego."
- Bobby Fischer

"Phil Helmuth needed two stretch limousines to get to the tournament,
one for himself and one for his ego."

- Perry Barshak

2009 was Phil Helmuth's worst year in poker, he actually lost money. The pressures of life had eventually caught up with him. Phil's actual persona and his poker alter-ego are very different. Portraying himself as a brat had earnt him a fortune, but fame comes at a price and external pressures began to interfere with his poker, things became so bad that he wasn't only going on tilt,
he started having panic attacks.

Many actors have experienced the phenomenon of the character they are playing taking over their lives, it's quite scary, especially if they are playing a nasty character.

Phil did not win eleven bracelets by accident, he might act the buffoon, but he is definitely nobody's fool. As he has done in hundreds of poker games, Phil made the right move, he hired the services of renowned Neuro Linguistic Poker Coach, Sam Chauhan, This is Phil's initial reaction to Sam's input, "After hiring San Chauhan as my Mindset Coach the positive energy is starting to get ramped right up..." Expect Phil to be winning his twelth bracelet quite soon.

Nobody knows exactly how many mistresses Tiger Woods has had, but it's common knowledge that he has enlisted the help of at least ten golf coaches. No one can deny that Tiger Woods is a natural, but his ego never got in the way of him seeking help. Fortunately for Phil Helmuth, it was his critical-self that got on the telephone to Sam Chauhan, Phil's alter ego would have just gone into a rant.

"I dodge bullets baby."
- Phil Helmuth

"You cannot be serious."
- John McEnroe

"You have to learn the rules of the game
and then you have to play better than anyone else."

- Albert Einstein

In the last year or so Mike Matusow discovered positive thinking, as you can imagine with Mike, he took up positive thinking with a vengence. Positive thinking brought Mike back from the brink and his latest poker results reflect that.

Edited poker highlights on television have not been favourable to Mike, who is one of the most patient players in existence, in long tournaments he can nurse a short stack for days waiting for opportunities to present themselves.

Here's a quote from the new positive Mike, "If you believe you're gonna win, you're gonna win. That's it. If you truly believe, even when you're losing pot after pot that you're still going to come back and win, even if you don't win that day, you will come back and win the next day."

When Mike decided to use positive thinking to improve his poker, he had no idea of the side effect. Positivity has improved his life, Mike would be the first one to admit that he's a much nicer person now. The truth is Mike was a nice person all along, positivity just released the prisoner.

"You've done it before and you can do it now.
See the positive possibilities.
Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into
positive, effective, unstoppable determination."

- Ralph Marston

Entering The Zone

At one point or another, as if by accident, most players enter the zone, regardless of the cards they are getting they know they can do no wrong. The feeling is sublime, they feel no fear, no trepidation, apart from being at one with the universe, with the doors of perception thrown wide open, mountains of chips pile up in front of them. The player has reached poker nirvana, then the thought comes into his head, this can’t last, no sooner the thought than the deed, and it’s back to reality.

The thing that you will find is, that when you play your ‘A’ game consistently, you’re going to enter the zone more often, not as often as you would like, but more often. The only advice I can give you the next time you’re in the zone is, don’t think, this can’t last, in fact, don’t think at all, just keep doing whatever you were doing.

I believe that the way into the zone is through total concentration, no one ever entered the zone while listening to an iPod or reading a magazine at the poker table. The Zen element of poker fascinates me, and the only book on poker that has ever appealed to me is, Zen and the Art of Poker.

The only other book I'd recommend poker players to read is: The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
It's essential reading.

" You have to leave the City of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself."
- Alan Alda

Whose mind is it anyway?

Overt persuasion, covert persuasion, advertising;
everybody seeks to influence our decisions.

We are all party to it, willing to reciprocate; parents influence children, for their greater good, children believe parents are misguided, then they in turn learn to influence their parents to redress the balance. Children are taught the art of manipulation, and they use it as soon as they get the opportunity. If they are good manipulators they grow up to be politicians, all for the greater good of course, but it doesn't always work out that way. Children are adept at the art of manipulation by the age of two, and expert at it by the time they become teenagers, it's an integral part of life, an ongoing game that people play.

It's always open season on mind manipulation, everybody wants a piece of the action, from telephone salesmen to religious leaders, everybody wants to lay claim to part of your brain.

We are totally aware that both friend and foe are in the process of manipulating our thoughts, and passively accept the situation as part of life. A life lived by knock on effect! We muddle through with Doris Day singing “Que sera sera” in the background.

Amazingly, there are people who have more influence on the thoughts of others, than they have on their own thoughts. Then there are those who have no influence on their own thoughts whatsoever. They just wander through life without ever bothering to get their brain into gear. They appear to be in control, but they are in essence being guided by the mis-guided. The notion that they could take control of their thought process has never occurred to them. They actually believe that how they think is an immutable process, that just takes place, for these people a life of relinquished autonomy is a given. To restructure their own way of thinking would be total taboo!

"Whenever a taboo is broken, something good happens, something vitalizing.
Taboos after all are only hangovers, the product of diseased minds,
you might say of fearsome people who hadn't the courage to live.."

- Henry Miller

"You talking to me? You talking to me? Well, I’m the only one here.”
- Robert De Niro

The above line from Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver, written by Paul Schrader, just about sums it up, it’s widely perceived that only crazy people, talk to themselves in mirrors. There’s little doubt that De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle, ex Vietnam war veteran, was mentally unstable. The scene of Bickle/De Niro talking to himself was meant to reinforce this point of view, as it has done in many movies. The tramp, in a movie, walking down the street mumbling to himself needs no introduction. He talks to himself, therefore he’s crazy!

Children at their most creative, when they are absorbing language at an unbelievable rate, don’t stop talking to themselves. Every parent looks on in wonder, they wouldn’t dream for a moment of stopping this amazing dialogue of a happy child at play. The cut-off point, comes at a moment of self-awareness, a moment of inhibition, the moment the child realises that they are doing something that adults don’t do, the party is over. It’s the most terrible moment of silence, the dawn of inhibition, internal communication is shut down, creativity slows, nothing will ever be the same.

Brain surgeons and bomb disposal experts are adroit at keeping up an internal conversation with themselves as they work. Indeed bomb disposal experts have to relate every move they make to a colleague distant enough to survive. Airline pilots do regular auditory checks, they’re not regarded as crazy. Two of the greatest acknowledged U.K poker players, consistent winners, have confided in me, that they keep up an ongoing dialogue, in their head, of how they intend to play out a hand; they want to be in a position to act not react. World class chess players do it by a matter of rote.

I remember sitting next to Gus Hansen when he was writing, Every Hand Revealed, he continually spoke into a voice-recorder, although Gus whispered into the recorder, as if it were a girl’s ear, I found his internal commentary as interesting as the game that had cost me three stacks of high society. The greatest players are in constant communication with themselves.
Gus was no stranger in communicating with himself.

" I play the players, not the cards."
- Gus Hansen

Neuro Linguistic Perestroika

In the early nineteen-eighties, I opened a new bookshop in Hove, City Books. I eventually sold City Books, to pursue a career on the stock market, but not before I'd spent an amazing couple of years there, meeting a diverse and interesting clientele.

One of my customers, a vociferous Russian called Sergei, would order and read, three or four books a week. He'd just ordered and read a couple of books by Richard Bandler and John Grinder and had come to collect another of their books. Sergei was a passionate fellow, if he wasn't something of a genius, he definitely had the hallmarks. "Marvellous books," he shouted, "but it's a misnomer, it should be called Neuro Linguistic Perestroika."

Five years later the word, perestroika, would resonate with all of us in the West. But Sergei introduced me to it long before Gorbachev made it a buzz word. "It's not programming of the mind, It's restructuring." Sergei, shouted in an accent that would have been at home in Semipalatinsk. I too became an avid reader of Bandler and Grinder, they made the right connections! Sergei was right, they were marvellous books, they resonated with the work of Abraham Maslow, whose whole approach to psychology had always interested me. Restructuring of the thinking process was becoming quite intriguing!

The simplicity of it all, meant that anyone could do it for themselves, with the right guidance, reasonably quickly and, because it affects the core principles of thinking, it adapts marvellously to various different disciplines. ( Eminently so with poker! )

The main things that gave NLP it's credibility, is that it became the accepted treatment and cure for phobias and post traumatic stress.

NLP has the ability to strike at the core of fear and negativity and from that standpoint it has enhanced the lives of thousands of people. The disintegration of negativity is just the beginning, without negativity everything becomes possible. It's then just a matter of opening the door and allowing the brain to function at optimum capacity.

“There are things known and there are things unknown,
and in between are the doors of perception.”

- Aldous Huxley

"The way to recover the meaning of life and the worthwhileness of life
is to recover the power of experience, to have impulse voices
from within, and to be able to hear these impulse voices from within,
and make the point: This can be done."

- Abraham Maslow

Maslow's words are timeless! Maslow, regarded as the father of humanistic psychology, was totally empathetic with the needs of man. Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs' remains the basic touchstone, for the understanding of human need and motivation.

To elicit his understanding, Maslow studied the exemplary, including Einstein. Indeed, there are few examples in history of anyone studying their own thought process to the extent that Einstein studied his. Einstein's fascination with his own thought process served to enhance his train of thought. Maslow's understanding of Einstein, delineated man's comprehension of genius and motivation.

Maslow discovered that people with higher I.Qs had 'impulse voices' They had constant communication with themselves through their inner voice. Whereas the majority of people sought to listen to others for guidance. People with a higher I.Q were confident in their own guidance. So much so that they could verbalise their thoughts and feelings to themselves, thus making their judgements more concrete.

Their thoughts and feelings, instead of becoming vague memories, became solid information that they could refer to, their thinking had structure. Their confidence and self-belief was paramount to their existence. "This can be done" is the credo of positivity.

Be it known as, impulse voice, inner voice, gut feeling, self talk, internal communication or parlegation. The last thing you want with it - is a breakdown in communication. A strong dialogue needs to exist, positive and meaningful. Whatever you need to do, "This can be done"
has to be your credo! There is no plan B, only your "A" Game!

"If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of
being, you will probably be unhappy for all the days of your life."

- Abraham Maslow.

"Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night,
and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt."

- Sun Tzu.

The Pursuit of Happiness

There’s that wonderful phrase that reality show contestants use, “I want it really bad!” In their minds, if they want it bad enough, they will get it; be it fifteen minutes of fame, or to be told what kind of prat they are by Alan Sugar. The common denominator for reality show contestants, winners and losers, is that they need a reality check.

The few, who go on to greater things, would somehow have got there anyway; It isn’t just wanting it really bad, that got them there. Somewhere within their journey, they rose to the occasion and engaged their brains, then they happened to stumble upon, profound change through accelerated success.

A live poker tournament has to be the ultimate reality show! The moment they say,
“Shuffle up and deal!” You know that the whole field, wants it really bad!
You also know that wanting it bad, is not going to be the determining factor.
Playing good, is what will determine who wins.
Concentrate deeply on playing good, seek out the opponent whose recurring thought is
“I want it bad” He is most likely going to be the first to leave, concentrate on getting his chips.
Always concentrate deeply on playing good!

There’s no speed limit attached to your unconscious, it moves faster than the speed of light. The most expensive computer in the world, doesn't work until its switched on. It was never anyone's conscious decision to leave their brain running at its’ lowest ebb. Inertia in hibernation mode is the path of least resistance.

One of the basic laws of nature and human nature is, without guidance the path of least resistance will be taken. Las Vegas only exists because the path of least resistance, taken by the Colorado river was thwarted by the building of the Hoover dam. Cause and effect at its most sublime, snow melting in the rocky mountains, supplies water and electricity to Las Vegas.

America’s abiding nightmare, the great depression of the 1930’s facilitated the building of the Hoover dam, facilitated the hedonism of Las Vegas, facilitated the American Dream.

"The path of least resistance is the path of the loser!"
- H. G. Wells

A long time sitting at the crossroads!

"What separates the winners from the losers
is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate"

- Donald Trump.

The traffic lights are on red, you've been sitting at the crossroads for a very long time. You're anticipating amber, but nothing is happening, maybe the lights are broken, you look in your rear view mirror to gain insight by looking an the face of the driver behind. There's a constant stream of traffic travelling across your path. For a split second, the thought crosses your mind, you could be stuck in this position forever.

Many people will spend their lives at the crossroads, with the lights on red. The very thought is enough to freeze anyone's thinking process to apathy. An apathetic thought process is one step away from a catatonic state.

In the words of Johnny Mercer, "You'll find out as sure as you live, something has got to give." The life less lived cannot be endured, something has to give, the haunting feeling that, there's more to it all, will eventually cause a short circuit in the system. Fulfilment is what we seek, there's genius in every one of us, it cannot be allowed to petrify.

Any teacher will tell you, they learnt more by teaching somebody else, more than they ever thought they could know! The more somebody knows, the more freedom they have. The greatest privilege is to enable someone's freedom.

There are thousands of different ways that people become prisoners to their own thought process, but once freedom is achieved; how, where and when they became imprisoned becomes one of those memories that the unconscious is so skilful at burying. Once the effect has gone the cause has little value.

"There's no passion to be found in playing small - in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living."

- Nelson Mandela

They do me wrong who say I come no more
When once I knock and fail to find you in;
For every day I stand outside your door
And bid you wake, and rise to fight and win.

Wail not for precious chances passed away!
Weep not for golden ages on the wane!
Each night I burn the records of the day..
At sunrise every soul is born again!

from Opportunity by -Walter Malone.

I owe a lot to the power of thought, and mind over matter, for over twenty years it kept me free of pain, without drugs, while I waited for Derek McMinn to invent the Birmingham Hip.

Every success I ever had, be it in business or writing, started out with: clear thought process, common sense and the fact that, from the outset, my father removed even the possibility of negativity from my being. I know how fortunate I have been!

I can tell you for sure, that 95% of the worrying you did in your lifetime was a waste of time. A monumental waste of time! Some problems we can solve and the seemingly insoluble sort themselves out in time. There's no shame in having been a faulty thinker, we've all fallen prey to it at one time or another. The smallest change in our approach to thinking can save us from years of pointless aggravation.

The Dalai Lama, who has to be the world’s foremost expert on meditation, proclaims that, “Sleep is the greatest meditation.” In effect the road to enlightenment can be found under your duvet. If you can relate to your dreams, you can connect to your destiny. You will find plenty of cynics ready to scoff at this, let them!

“There’s nothing so pitiful as a young cynic,
because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.”

- Maya Angelou.

"Eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative,
don't mess with Mister in-between."

- Johnny Mercer

Initially, we all have differing levels of negativity, it is based on the input we receive. Some are better at screening it out, these are the optimists the, never say die, people who forge on regardless, they are best equipped in life, because, when the good times come, they are the pragmatists ready to take advantage of the situation.

Regardless, no matter how much they have taken life by the horns, they too (unless it has been cleared) have a residue of negativity, that hampers their clarity of thought, it's a background noise. You could liken it to static on an old radio. Even at its lowest level, a residue of negative thought is debilitating, it has to be abandoned.

People who suffer with higher levels of negativity, have built on the negativity, foisted upon them by the outside world. The negative is their norm, they lead a negative life, they exist under difficult conditions. They see the negativity as part of themselves, not something they have acquired, and mistakenly nurtured. Negativity is not part of the being, it’s a mis-directed train of thought. It’s faulty thinking!

Fortunately, a simple exercise can freeze negativity and remove it completely. Once life is experienced without negativity, life goes into overdrive, clear thinking and common sense prevail, positive energy unleashes itself and you go along for the ride.

Once you're convinced that negativity has no value whatsoever and you are ready to relinquish it, the next step, getting rid of these malignant thoughts, is easy. It's a case of you deciding exactly what you are going to think in the future. This is the moment you start to communicate with yourself.

The procedure is three fold:

There is, of course, a side effect to this,
apart from getting to play your "A" Game, you get very happy!

" Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

"I can't go back to yesterday - because I was a different person then!"
- Lewis Carroll

After a nights sleep, the total removal of negativity, has taken place. Much like when you’ve had a stiff neck; you know when your neck is back to normal; you awaken and even before moving, you know that you are in total alignment. Not only are you aware that negativity has gone, you know it is never coming back, it has gone for good!

One of the most amazing aspects of the human being is the ability to dream; this multiplex cinema that we have within us is the most baffling phenomenon. With your fears and negativity dissipated how are your dreams affected? Maybe it’s best to leave it to the eloquence of a Chinese philosopher, who lived over two and a half thousand years ago, to answer the question: “Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dreams. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout to nurture your dream.” - Lao Tzu.

Without negativity your dreams become lighter, you become more joyful, the release of old tensions is cathartic, changes take place in your demeanour and physiology, even before you add fresh positive content to your unconscious, a major change has occurred. You can relax and proceed, everything is within your grasp, the positive commands that you are about to enter into your unconscious, are the fine tuning of your future. You are about to experience the euphoria of true free-will. The word is about to become the deed. Good karma is on its way, you only need the right thought process to make way for it!

There comes a day when profound change is inevitable!
There comes a day when success is so close you can touch it!
Accelerated success is imminent! Accelerated success is inevitable!

"Realise that everything connects to everything else"
-Leonardo Da Vinci.

A five minute telephone call is all that is needed to establish if we can work together, there’s usually a waiting time of three to four weeks before we can get together. One intensive two hour meeting is all that is necessary to have you playing your ‘A’ Game consistently. Both live and internet players benefit from neuro linguistic coaching. (I will also be in Las Vegas in December 2010.)

or ring me on: 07522 772 496 (Confidentiality Assured)

Sid Harris Poker, 12 Prince Albert Street,
Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom BN1 1HE

© Copyright Sid Harris 2014
Poker Training / Poker Coaching / Poker Tuition