The Poker Zoo, Ep. 51: Jason Su is Present

adapted from rene magritte delacomanie

Today I speak with mental game proselytizer, new author, Poker Detox advisor, and suspiciously even-keeled guest Jason Su on the pod. While Daniel and Doug swordfight for your clicks, Jason has made a more useful splash in poker 2020 with his book, blog, and appearances all over poker training media. I grill him on the necessity of emotional control, tilt avoidance and the intersection of strategy and mental health, but he remains calm – we even get a funny Mason Malmuth story from him.

John Penturn’s comments on Magritte’s Décalcomanie MM, adapted here, echo some of Jason’s thoughts on mental game: “This approach in key ways was the meaning. The subject matter is almost incidental.” While Jason’s love of poker may be central to his life, Jason believes living with full bodily presence is equally central to all successes. This is a lesson the poker community has tacitly accepted, and is evidenced by the fitness and life improvement ethos most of the game’s ambassadors espouse (between squabbling and berating each other).

Jason’s book is Poker with Presence: Unlocking the Final 15%.  You can learn more at his website, where you’ll find the blog I mention.

My article on Malmuth/Cardner.

At one point in the interview, I mention Luka, a TBR member and former student who presently plays on stake at Detox, but I didn’t provide much context. Here is his 2020 appearance on the Poker Zoo.

These were the pieces of wisdom shouted from the poker mountain tops, and soon a divide would form. Analytically oriented players who played primarily online discovered that the old timers had obvious technical deficiencies which could be exploited for large amounts of profit. They’d see a clear strategic mistake and think to themselves: Wow, how can they not understand this? They valued the study of tactics above all else, while the “old school” players would make fun of the internet players who showed no interest in developing a feel for the game and would bluff off their stacks in live games versus players incapable of folding. They’d see this obvious contextual mistake and think to themselves: Wow, how can they not understand this? Despite their differences, both sides wanted the same thing: to win, and win big.

They’re both right. You can’t win at poker without a firm grasp of range analysis and game theory. You also can’t be the best version of yourself if you disconnect from what is happening inside and around you. You need both – a strong understanding of how the game works, and an equally strong ability to stay a step ahead, sense intentions and recognize when someone will change gears before they know it themselves. That’s the pinnacle of poker.

-from Poker with Presence

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