Everyone who has ever attended the WSOP knows that the breaks are short and the dining options are limited and unhealthy. That’s why most players end up eating fast food, usually of poor quality.
But at the 2022 WSOP that may change, as T.J. Jurkiewicz took the trouble to analyze the healthiest dining options on the Las Vegas Strip and compiled them into a free book called “WSOP Healthier Eating Guide“.
We spoke to T.J. about his life, the many poker tournaments he’s played, his work and his new book.
First live tournaments
Timothy has Polish ancestry, but was born and raised in New Jersey. From 2013 to 2018 he was living in Maryland and in 2018 he moved to Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps.
He started playing live tournaments in 2014 and his first final table was at the Parx Casino’s Big Stax VIII, where he placed eighth winning $7.6K. In 2016 he claimed his first title when he won a $300 Maryland Casino Live! event for $6.2K. His Hendon Mob profile shows lifetime career earnings of $110K.
In December of last year he played some cash games at The Lodge poker room in Round Rock, Texas and shared a table with 4x WSOP bracelet winner Mike Matusow. You can catch some of that action in the video below.
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Playing for a bracelet during the 2019 WSOP
T.J.’s best tournament result so far came during the 2019 WSOP, where he played the final table of Event #57 Tag Team. He and his friend Zach came very close to winning their first bracelets, finishing fourth. Their elimination came on a classic coin-flip: Their A-Ks lost to an opponent’s 5-5 and each team member netted $26K for fourth place.
Speaking to us about that deep run, T.J. reflected, “Placing fourth in the Tag Team event in 2019 was a surreal experience. I chose my partner, Zach Gruneberg, because we had become good friends in years past and in 2019 we were actually filming a vlog series called ‘Behind the Grind.’ We were a perfect pair to play in that event, as my background in poker was playing cash games 98% of the time and he was playing tournaments probably 100% of the time. I played the entire first day of the tournament and bagged a pretty good stack for us. I played the beginning of Day 2 and lost a few tough pots early and then Zach took over when we dipped below 50 BBs and I don’t think I played more than six hands the rest of the tournament, which was totally fine with me as playing that stack size was his bread and butter. I did get to play and win a pot at the final table when he had to run to the bathroom so I’ll always have that on my poker resume!”
When asked what his 2022 WSOP plans were, T.J. replied, “Honestly, I am so busy building the business and servicing my clients that I won’t have much time to spend playing tournaments for entire days this summer. I definitely will play the Tag Team event with Zach again and I would like to play the $1,500 Monster Stack, as that has been my favorite event since I’ve been coming to the WSOP. I might sprinkle a few of the other smaller large field lottery tickets events if I find the time but we will see!”
New philosophy of life and nutritional coaching project
T.J. also recently posted a “10 year challenge” photo of himself on his social channels, where his body showed a great transformation. We asked him about it and here’s what he had to say: “I have struggled with my weight since I was in high school, where I peaked at right around 300 pounds. I became obsessed with learning everything I could about nutrition at that point. Along that timeline, I would try all these various fad diets I would read about and they all resulted in me gaining a lot of the weight back.”
He added: “There is a lot of very poor nutrition advice doled out to this day that is widely accepted. I realized I needed to have a healthier, sustainable relationship with food, and when COVID lockdowns happened I decided to get properly educated and dedicate myself to learning from trusted sources about nutrition. So, I studied and eventually received my nutrition coaching certification from Precision Nutrition. I had thoughts of becoming a nutrition coach and helping others in the areas that I struggled with for 15 years, which is what I currently do.”
Thus was born T.J.’s idea of founding All In Fitness Coaching: “After I got certified, I slowly started taking on 1-on-1 clients and realized how passionate I was about this as a career. I opened an LLC, got all of the paperwork done to make it official, and have been adding clients to the point where I have a lot of them now. I played poker professionally full-time starting in 2013 and did that all the way up until COVID happened. Now, I’ve shifted my focus to nutrition coaching and helping others. I believe that my experience both struggling with my weight for 16+ years as well as having that experience of being a full-time poker player allows me the unique opportunity to help others in this field. I wish that I knew what I know now 10 years ago because it would have saved me a lot of frustration, but I can find solace in the fact I can now help others avoid those same frustrations I experienced.”
Here’s what one happy customer, Matt Affleck, had to say:
I’ve been working w TJ all year for my weight loss journey. His approach, while taking basic health principals, promotes dieting that is easy and sustainable. Simple changes we can make daily for ever, rather than crash dieting on chicken / rice. Highly rec to anyone struggling https://t.co/0XYvIfw1il
— Matthew Affleck (@mcmattopoker) May 10, 2022
On working with poker players he told us: “I work with several poker players, one of whom you might know, Matt Affleck. Matt hired me at the beginning of this year after entering into a weight loss challenge bet with other poker players. He’s been an A+ client, always trusting the process and he actually hit his goal weight for the 5-month period just four months into our time working together. He’s down 27 pounds so far and, more importantly, I know that he is building the confidence that he knows he will keep the weight off. I’m confident that given the success we have had working together, he is going to have a phenomenal summer at the WSOP. I’m calling it now: he will win his first bracelet!”
The first healthy guide to the WSOP
We asked T.J. how he came up with the idea of creating his WSOP healthy eating guide: “With being the first year of the WSOP being located on the Strip, I thought people would want to know what dining options were nearby within walking distance, where they could access healthier food options. I essentially just wanted people to be able to make overall better decisions with their food choices during the series to enable them to feel and play their best.”
We also asked T.J. about the advantages for players who maintain a healthy diet during the WSOP: “I believe that feeling your best physically will allow you to make the most optimal decisions at the poker table. When you make a deep run in some of these tournaments, and the field is getting tougher and tougher with each elimination, I truly feel like you need to have every possible edge you can have. When Darren Elias 3-bets your open, you don’t want to be holding your stomach regretting the double bacon cheeseburger and fries (with a milkshake) you crammed down 90 minutes earlier. You want to be focused on making the best possible decisions and I believe you can help put yourself in that spot by fueling yourself properly through your food choices.”
WSOP Healthier Eating Guide drops tomorrow morning.
Quick video explaining how it works and why it was made:https://t.co/yC85WAnlE7
— TJ Jurkiewicz 🦚🇵🇱 (@tj_jurk) May 22, 2022
Eating healthy in Las Vegas
So, if T.J. had to choose three places to eat healthy food in Las Vegas what would they be?
“In terms of walking distance from Bally’s and Paris: Yard House at Linq Promenade, PF Chang’s at Planet Hollywood and Ocean One in Miracle Mile Mall. You can look up the best food options from these places in the guide that I wrote.”
T.J. continued, “In terms of Las Vegas as a whole: For meal prep I like The Good Life Chef the best. I’ve been using them for quite a while myself and what makes them stand out is they don’t make bland bodybuilding style meals. They specialize in healthier Asian style dishes so I highly recommend trying the beef bulgogi, chicken adobo, and grilled sweet spicy sticky chicken. Everything there is good but these three are top tier. If you use my code TIM15 you will get 15% off of your order and they will deliver anywhere in town. Just get orders in by Thursday at midnight and they will deliver the meals to you on Sunday. They also list all calorie and macronutrient counts so you know exactly what you’re getting in each meal.”
“The other two options for me would be: Greens and Proteins and Protein House. Both of these restaurants specialize in healthier, nutrient dense foods and what I like most about them is they list out all of their calorie and macronutrient counts so you know exactly what you’re putting into your body,” T.J. added.
Tips for WSOP players
Finally, we asked T.J. for three pieces of healthy eating advice he’d give people attending the WSOP. Here’s what he had to say:
- Prioritize protein at every meal. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and it will give you your best bang for your buck in terms of keeping you fuller for longer periods of time, which will come in huge during long tournament days. Make protein the primary food source for your entrees and you’ll be on the right path.
- Get fibrous carbohydrates and avoid simple carbs. Fibrous carbs include apples (eat the skin, that’s where the most fiber is), strawberries, raspberries, blackberries. Stay away from simple carbs like candy, sugar filled drinks, syrups, table sugar, fruit juice concentrate, and anything loaded with added sugars like cookies or breakfast cereals.
- Eat healthy fats. You want to go with a good quality extra virgin olive oil (you get what you pay for with olive oil), avocados, almonds, dark chocolate (85% or above). All of these healthy fats have been linked to increased cognitive function; just be careful not to over indulge on them, as they are calorically dense. For meats, stick to grass-fed beef and wild caught salmon whenever possible, if you’re able to cook at an AirBnb.
T.J. had one last important clarification to add: “The WSOP is not a time that you should be trying to diet and lose weight. The time to do that is from August through May. WSOP should be a time that you are giving your body an adequate level of calories and balanced macronutrients so that you are feeling your best and most energized. I understand that people come out here and want to have a good time with friends they haven’t seen in a while, but you need to treat it as a business trip as well. Don’t go out drinking until 3am the night before you know you are going to be playing an earlier tournament. Save those nights for when you know you have a day off the following day. Find a good middle ground between being healthy while still enjoying yourself.”
We invite you to download T.J.’s guide before you travel to Las Vegas so that you’re fully prepared to get the best healthy food options on the Strip and be at your healthiest while bracelet hunting.
The “WSOP Healthier Eating Guide” is officially live!
Download your free copy below:https://t.co/D4ZunqvHos pic.twitter.com/3ojUYflKBH
— TJ Jurkiewicz 🦚🇵🇱 (@tj_jurk) May 23, 2022