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William Hung's Underground Card Laboratory
Conquering US Nationals - Part II: Mental Toughness
June 28, 2006

Hello trainers,
I am taking a break from discussing decks, as I have covered many good decks in the Modified format already.  This time, I'll discuss something more abstract, and that's mental toughness.
I've been busy playing lots of poker recently, and a lot of it is trying to get inside your opponent's head.  Create uncomfortable situations, force your opponent to make tough, and therefore perhaps bad decisions.
In Pokemon TCG, we can certainly do that too.  Play cards like Warp Point, use Roselia's Flick Poison, POW! Hand Extension, Rocket's Admin, etc.  It is usually most devastating when you have a decent prize lead, like a count 2-6 or 3-6, and all of a sudden in several turns, they come right back and KO 2 or 3 of your important Pokemon.  In sports and anything else, that's a big swing of momentum.
How do you develop mental toughness?  Well, you got to stay really calm in difficult situations, and live in the moment.  It's really so much harder to be said than done.  I mean it's like instead of thinking about a trip to worlds or top X cuts and stuff, you gotta stay focused on the current game, and keep making the best plays possible, through each and every round.  Don't allow other distractions.
For example, last week I've discussed the deck DragTrode.  The ultimate goal of DragTrode is to win the game as quickly and efficiently as possible, most likely with Rocket's Sneasel ex.  Efficient means that you don't let someone come back into the game to beat you.  If Drag Off on an opponent's Magcargo could cripple your opponent, you take that option.
LBS (Lugia ex/Blastoise ex/Steelix ex) is the same thing.  You're going to set up a Blastoise ex and set up your attackers.
However, a deck like Mynx (Mew ex/Wobbuffet/Jynx/Roselia/Unowns/Minun DX) is different.  Here, you're trying to either play the game in such a way that you can win by time, by catching up in prize count in KOs and get 1 more in Sudden Death, or you find a point where your opponent already wasted a lot of Energy (because you are potentially creating an infinite loop with Minun DX and POW! Hand Extension), and just switch to aggressive attack mode to try to take all 6 prize cards before they can make a come back.
So know your deck.  Know its strengths and weaknesses.  Know its limits.  Best of luck.
William Hung

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