Swagger Thoughts, from Ken Drees

February 10, 2009 |

PoolThe psychological trick or tactic in "the Dark Side of Psychology," a simple verbal probe into the mind of an opponent, is underhanded. This reminds me of a successful tactic I employed numerous times in money games of pool — think college/yuppie bar scene.

On a high pressure shot to close out a money game, as my opponent would be carefully sizing up his shot, I would casually walk over to the cue rack and put my cue-stick into the rack, maybe grab my coat or grab the hand of my date showing the opponent in not so many words that his shot was in the bag.

Depending on the skill of the opponent, this tactic worked on many occasions. You could feel the pressure building and the more time the person would take for the shot, the worse the self inflicted pressure became. The other result would be a quick shot by the opponent — just as bad. The strong opponent with mental toughness would just drain the shot and pick up the money.

But the tactic itself is underhanded. It shows that I was relying on a trick to save my game. It also says volumes about why I was not the one taking the final shot — I was being beat. I wonder if such tactics in chess or other higher games of skill would somehow subconsciously undermine the person performing them. If that person is concentrating on tricking and tearing down the opponent through psychological flattery, then one is not concentrating on your own game and reducing your own strength.

Lets assume I plant these destructive seeds in my opponent prior to my match with him, I would have to believe that I would be thinking about this during the game. Thereby, I would be weakening myself. Maybe it would be best to try this dark psychological probe on the leader when he is about to play his final match against someone else — and you would be playing another, free to concentrate fully on the game and not the trick.

I thought long about who my opponent would be in the markets in regards to dark psychological flattery. No outside person tries to infect my mind with this underhanded trick.

It is obviously myself: my own mind, my own thoughts, my own vanities. How could I psychologically trick myself through flattery when I am doing well in trading? For me the self inflicted psychological probe starts after a nice win streak, usually on a monthly score card review (The chess player having a great tournament). I notice that after a "good" month I start to get a slight swagger to my thoughts, after a nice roll — two months or so of fine results with only small losses incurred, and taken quickly — like a "pro", I start to verbalize these thoughts.

This cumulates in a big wave of talking about the markets to my wife. I notice that after one or two of these "Honey, I really am doing well" dinners, always with plenty of wine, things start to turn down for me in the markets. I start to hit bumps in the trading road. Patterns change, loss frequency increases, etc. What had been working well is now not yielding the same results.

Ongoing I want to start tracking these "swagger" thoughts more closely and see if I can quantify them and get a count or a log going where I can more thoroughly understand where I am in terms of the probe. It happens to me over longer periods of time — months. If I have an up month and then a flat month — the build up doesn't happen. One day big wins never get me too excited since I always consider them as flukes. It seems that my own self inflicted flattery is insidious, building up slowly and then manifesting itself in an attack — an attack that actually feels natural and good.





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