NLP Techniques Modelled from Poker

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This article is about a technique you can use to win in any situation even when the odds are stacked against you.

NLP is About Modelling What Works

Royal FlushThere is a specific play in poker that is a great model for making sure that things go your way. Let me explain the poker move first and then we will move it in to how it works for 121 therapy / coaching / persuasion situations.

If you are on the Persuasion Skills on Steroids Deconstructed Course you might want to analyse this article in terms of the covert persuasion tactics that are running through it. If you are on the Advanced Persuasion Patterns Course have a look at how the metaphors are constructed and the processes I am installing in the reader. As always read first for content, then for process and at least once more with the, “How can I use this?” question running.

If you want to know about how to create these sort of learning models and ways of unconsciously installing them into your audience then you probably need a decent NLP Practitioner Course like this one here.

 Poker is a Unique NLP Accelerated Learning Environment

Poker is a game of people played with cards. And as such it is a wonderful environment to study and learn about people. I have constructed poker plays from coaching techniques and I have learned great new coaching techniques from paying poker. Here is one poker play that works really well with coaching clients.

Here is a fairly normal technique used by poker players that has great uses both in and outside a card room. It is a way of winning even when you have a losing hand. The first part starts by having a certain type of image.

In poker a tight player is one that only plays when they have good cards or the right situation. In general this is a good image to have and it makes you appear more threatening when you do play a hand. So long as people have not seen you play too often you can create a tight image just by not playing many hands for a while.

You then wait for the right situation and the right cards although the cards don’t really matter. The right situation is when you are one of the last to act, several people have bet but not raised. You pretend to look at your cards and make a substantial bet.

You may win the pot right there as you might have frightened the other players away. But let’s assume that one or more players have called your bet and stayed in the hand. The next three cards are dealt and then there is another round of betting.

Now if one of the other players bets you might actually have to look at your hand and see if you are connected and then play a different strategy. But to show you the rest of the technique let us assume that the other players don’t bet. Regardless of your hand you put out another big bet. The other players should fold and let you have the pot.

If they match or raise you then you know that they have a good hand and you then need to look at and think about the hand you are actually playing. But if they have not connected then you will win the hand right there. This play is called continuation betting. Let’s look at why this works.

Two Ways to Win, Make the Change or Collect the Information

At the beginning you are looking for a situation where you represent the authority on the table – remember tight player, last to act after you have all the information from the other players, no one has raised (so they have weak hands). You raise the bet signifying that you have a winning hand. It doesn’t matter what you have, you have represented strength whilst everyone else is showing weakness. You might win the pot outright at this stage simply because of this.

After the next three cards come down there is another round of betting. If no one bets again they are signifying weakness. By making a substantial bet again you are making it very difficult for anyone to stay in unless they have actually made a big hand. Either way you are in a strong position, they either concede the hand to you or they tell you that they have a strong hand and you can make a decision based on that. The statistics say most starting hands are weak by the second round of betting, obviously you are representing the lucky position where your good starting hand has got even better.

By the second round of betting you have had two opportunities to win the pot and if you don’t you will have had a lot of good information on the other players that are still in the hand. And remember this is completely independent of the hand you have been dealt. Your only issue is watching the other players and assessing if they have a good hand or not.

Let Go of What is in Your Hand

Collect Information on What Other People Have in Their’s

Let’s translate this to outside a poker room into another type of situation.

Imagine a situation as a coach or therapist and you make your client work really hard even before they see you. Perhaps you telephone screen them and they have to submit some homework on the relevant issue before they are allowed to book the appointment. And throughout this you are constantly reinforcing the idea that you are very busy and in demand so they have to be really serious about wanting this result as well being prepared to work really hard etc.

Once in the room you start by asking them to tell you about the homework that you had set them. As soon as you can confirm they have done any of it you ask them based on the homework what has changed about the problem. If they have not done any of the homework you might ask them what has changed so they didn’t feel the need to do the homework.

Please note the frames and the presuppostions in both responses are the same and we don’t care what they say because we have it covered either way. NLP Jargon Junkies would call this a double bind.

That was your first bite at stacking the deck for your client. Perhaps as you then get into the session you suggest a technique to try. Check the language in this introduction;

“Let’s try an experiment. I want to show you a technique that isn’t for everyone. It works really well with people that are imaginative…etc (inserting all the values that your client aspires to). I am not suggesting that it will work perfectly but you are in the category that should get a great result so let’s have a go and see what happens.”

Obviously I have stripped a lot of the fluff away so that you can see the patterns cleanly. So this is now another stacking of presuppositions in favour of your client changing. Once you have had a go at the technique you might just ask the “change” question again; “Now we have completed the technique, what has changed for you?”

If things have changed then you ratify and make the change complete. If they say nothing has changed you might start a whole new set of patterns. For example,

“That’s right you haven’t noticed any change yet. That’s because we have to do xyz to complete the process and then you will notice that you are (insert the changes that you want them to see). If that makes sense (pause until they nod or say yes) let’s get on with completing the change.”

I am hoping that you can see how I am stacking the deck in favour of my client making the change again. It doesn’t matter how your client answers the question they will still be moving down the path to change.

The whole point is that so long as you keep your client going down the path eventually they will have to concede and make the change or give you more information as to what is stopping them at which point you just deal with the objection.

Deconstruct What Works and Ask Yourself; “How Else Can I Use That? “

You may have recognised that I have taken the reader through a sequence of representations and that there is more going on in this article than just the simple imparting of some information.

There are several levels of content. For example there is the content about playing poker, the content of how you can handle coaching or therapy clients, there is content about the specific language patterns that I use. There is a deeper level of content that is about how I am using a poker metaphor to explain a coaching or therapy technique. And then there is the level of content that is about how I am explaining the more covert elements of this article. That I think is a fair demonstration of how I use NLP concepts to teach NLP concepts.

If you found this interesting then the big question, in fact the only real question worth pondering is; “What would you do with this skill?” If you are a teacher, parent, coach, trainer, consultant, sales person then the answer is fairly obvious. But imagine how many other areas these concepts would be invaluable. Ultimately this is about learning to learn…and if you want to do that then:

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