With a planned return of the World Series of Poker to the Strip this summer — for the first time in 17 years — 2022 is primed to be a massive year. With live tournaments, online poker festivals, and more in the pipeline, every poker player needs to be in the best physical and mental shape to put themselves in a position to win big. But how can you make sure that you’re healthy and happy as you go for gold over the next 12 months? We’ll spot you.
1. Change Your Diet Mentality
Many people struggle with their weight, and that often comes down to two things: lack of a regular exercise regimen and a poor diet. We’ll cover the physical training aspect of health later in this article, but eating well is something you can change immediately.
Eating a balanced diet is crucial for everyone, but even more so for poker players who frequently put in long sessions at the felt. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your longer-term energy levels up, and eat healthily to stave off any illness during periods where you’re not going to be able to provide your body with enough rest.
Me: I may be a little older than the average poker player, but I put some thought into my diet and exercise regimens.
Also me: pic.twitter.com/et085wMENn
— Andrew Brokos (@thinkingpoker) July 25, 2019
At a week-long poker festival, diet can be something that you have to negotiate in another country. Knowing the food groups that are going to be beneficial for you, and the times you need to eat is a practice that is far better for you than simply seeking a handful of specific foods. Those foods might not be available where you’re playing, so make sure that you can stick to a diet that is easy to maintain wherever you might be.
2. Build an Exercise Routine
Exercising regularly benefits both the body and the mind, so making sure that you have an exercise regime that works wherever and whenever you are can be vital to your wellbeing.
Some exercises, such as weight machines and running, require you to leave your room and travel to either a gym or the outside world. However, if you look up indoor exercises online, you can find a routine that you can do from any room with an internet connection.
It isn’t always easy to commit to physical exercise that lasts a long time, so long runs and demanding physical workouts may not fit with long hours at the online or live felt. Therefore, bite-size bouts of exercise can be extremely beneficial. If you can find time for exercise, try to take advantage of the time you have and make the most of it. Micro workouts that are of huge benefit can be found online, so research the best ones for your body and have at it!
3. Practice Mindfulness
Whether it’s yoga or meditation, everyone playing poker seems to have adopted some form of mindfulness practice as they make their way through the minefield of the game. Yoga can extend anyone’s physical peak, not just top-level sports players. Meanwhile, meditation has been known to calm even the wildest of tilting poker players on occasion. But which one is for you?
Yoga is the practice of moving your body into advantageous positions to stretch out tight muscles. Yoga comes with the added benefit of peace of mind, and has been known to have prolonged the stellar careers of some sporting superstars.
Meditation requires a great deal less physicality. In fact, it requires a total lack of movement, as the whole idea is to remain still and achieve peace and tranquillity through chanting, silence or simple breathing exercises. Plenty of phone apps can help you with this. Fedor Holz even created one called Primed Mind, which includes a blend of meditation, hypnotherapy, and performance coaching to bring out the best in poker players and in people in general.
4. Live Off the Land
As we embrace technology, convenience, and progression, it can be very easy to forget that the best things for us are often the simplest. If you ever find yourself rushed to the hospital or housebound for a week, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, as a return to a more basic life can leave you far more relaxed and centered.
From putting down your iPad and picking up a book – even if it’s about poker – to turning off internet poker and playing a home game, disentangling yourself from stressful or draining activities will leave you feeling more well-rested and ready to focus. This can extend to what you consume, too. Players often ingest too few vitamins and minerals when their diet is affected by sleep deprivation and a lack of balance. Make sure that you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and up your water intake when you are overwhelmed.
5. Embrace the Outside World
This will sound like the most obvious advice possible for a healthy lifestyle, but if you’re to stay fit and strong, then regular time outside is very important. From Vitamin D to just plain fresh air, getting outside is highly beneficial for the human body.
Whether you’re able to go out without restrictions, or you are relatively locked down, getting out and about will increase your oxygen supply and improve your overall fitness. Studies show that people who head outside, even if it’s just for a walk, lower their cortisol levels, reducing stress. With an estimated 40% of U.S. adults Vitamin D deficient, there’s no end to the advantages of fresh air and sunlight.
If you focus on taking a lot of small steps in the right direction in 2022, you can become a healthier person and quite possibly a better poker player.