Poker Therapy: How Hypnosis Can Improve Your Game

Posted by Davida Mintz, September 28, 2014

poker therapySuppose you’ve identified a major leak in your game and have decided to do something about it. Start by figuring out whether the problem’s with your technical game, or if it’s emotionally based. Get a poker coach if it’s technical, but when you’re prone to tilt, playing angry or playing scared, a lesser known style of hypnosis is helping poker players resolve emotional issues that are holding them back.

During regression hypnotherapy, players access childhood memories to get in touch with the source of their trouble spots. I had a chance to speak with Las Vegas Hypnotherapist Elliot Roe (DHP) about regression hypnosis for poker players. “It’s possible to progress much faster with a client using hypnotherapy rather than more traditional therapies, as communication takes place directly with the subconscious mind. What could take years to resolve using psychoanalysis, can take just weeks or months using hypnotherapy.” Roe has worked with about 100 poker players, and says all of his clients are different, but certain themes begin to emerge.


Emotional Leaks

Self-sabotage is a big issue in Roe’s practice, along with frustration and anxiety. He says players who undermine themselves may have been through something traumatic, like living with parents who tell them they’re worthless. Self-sabotage can also be the result of a lack of self-confidence or the feeling one doesn’t deserve to succeed.

A player who never backs down to aggression, and engages in ego wars, was probably pushed around when he was younger. Roe sees this behavior in players who were bullied as children, either by parents or kids at school. Bullying can also cause a situation like being C-bet, to feel like a personal attack.

I wanted to know about players who can’t fold. Roe says it’s often the result of playing competitive sports as a child, or having a lot of pressure put on them in sports. He says in their minds, “They feel that if they don’t fold, they still have a chance of winning, rather than seeing that if they do fold, they can actually win in the long term, because they’re not wasting as much money.”

Roe works with a lot of players on reducing the amount of abuse they give in the chat box, and says typing hateful words in the box is their way of releasing frustration. He explains, “They’ve had a bad beat, they want to let the player know that they’re the professional and they should have won the hand, rather than realizing that the last thing you want to tell somebody is that they should have played the hand differently.”

Will poker hypnosis improve your game?


Money Issues

Every player knows what it’s like to run bad, and when it continues, re-thinking your bankroll is the right thing to do. The majority of players bounce back from a downswing, but the ones who have issues about money tend to play too tight and jeopardize future earnings, by playing stakes that are too low. Roe’s noticed geographic differences in the way players respond to bankroll issues, and notes, “It happens a lot with Eastern European players, the money to them is a lot of money, because obviously in their country, they might be making 10 times more than the average person.” The first thing he works on with a client with money issues is determining whether he has a true money problem or a difficult relationship with money.


The Hypnotic Experience

Now that we’d established the link between past events and losing behavior, I asked Roe to explain the therapeutic process. He put me under hypnosis to see for myself, and get to the bottom of a leak in my game. Roe used relaxation exercises, hypnotic suggestion and visualization to induce a trance.

Soon, my mind would drift off to a final table, where I’m playing too tight. My game is not ending well again, and I’m tense and frustrated. I tell Roe I can feel my arms getting tight against my body.

That’s when he changes the scene and says, “You’re going to remember another connected memory. Just another time in your life you felt a similar way. As I count you back now to another connected time, five, four, three, drifting back through your memories now, two, one. What’s the next thing you think of, anything at all?”

Is your game stuck? You may want to consider poker therapy.


Making a Connection

We sorted through about a half-dozen meaningful events, but made no connections, until I brought up an experience that initially seemed insignificant. Apparently I had more to learn from the first-grade teacher I despised for making me sit outside. Add to that, a birthday stuck with a cold-blooded babysitter, and the link between past events and my poker performance became clear.

Now that the connection’s been made, Roe gives positive reinforcement, as he asks me to visualize being chip leader at the final table. This time, I’m in control and winning pots. I see myself as an active player, feeling focused and relaxed as I enter the final stage of tournament poker.


More Details

Regression hypnosis has gained the attention of poker players worldwide, who go into trance with Roe on Skype. He spent three months researching with professional and amateur players before developing his poker hypnosis program. Though not a player himself, Roe demonstrates a clear understanding of poker strategy and terminology.

Want to know more about poker hypnosis? Check:

Poker hypnosis can improve your game.


Davida MintzDavida Mintz is a poker player and contributor to Titanbet Poker. A former television news reporter, Davida has interviewed presidential candidates and celebrities, even one serial killer. As a poker writer, she’s thrilled to add a World Series of Poker Main Event champion to that list. Read all of Davida Mintz's poker articles.



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