4 Healthy Habits Every Poker Player Should Practice
Once upon a time, you could spot a health-conscious poker player from a mile away. They were the ones who didn’t stay up for three days straight; who didn’t have a cigarette dangling from their lips.
But times have changed and these days, many of poker’s elite players are physical specimens.
They might spend much of their lives sat around poker tables or grinding at home on their computers, battling against a vampiric sleep pattern, but successful players have grown increasingly aware of the need for nutrients, exercise and a schedule that allows for recuperation in between long trips.
They carry vitamin smoothies to the card room and pick hotels based on the standard of the gym. They’re aware of their posture at the tables and at their desks and might even pay personal trainers to iron out all the flaws.
Basically, what we’re saying is: do what most of the best players in the world do.
Here are four healthy habits every poker player should practice.
Poker tournaments often require long and unsociable hours, but the importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. Tiredness causes more mistakes than perhaps any other ailment, so being well-rested is a must to play to your optimum ability.
When you’re at home, just focus on getting as much rest as you can and sticking to a decent routine. Make sure you do everything you can to rest up before and after long sessions.
Meanwhile, being on the road often means packing in as many tournaments as you can, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on your base camp. All hotels selected by PokerStars Travel, will be high-end and therefore come equipped with the basics — namely a good bed, clean linen and a Do Not Disturb sign — but it can’t hurt to squirrel a couple of other useful pieces of equipment in your bag: ear plugs and a mask.
No guest can expect other residents to keep the noise down 24 hours a day (and we’ve all been woken by a vacuum cleaner), so those buds are going to be worth their weight in gold. Meanwhile, daylight is always going to intervene in the life of a committed nocturnal being, so pinch a mask from a plane the next time you see one.
Otherwise, it’s worth remembering that hotels themselves are usually well stocked with everything their guests need. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask the front desk to help you out, even requesting a room change if necessary. They will always have catered to far ruder patrons than you, and the customer is always right!
Ditch your excuses. We all know how important exercise is for our general health and well-being, not to mention how impactful feeling good can be on our poker play.
Don’t have much space to exercise in your hotel room or at home? Try typing “hotel room workout” into Google and see what comes back. Just because you’re going to be spending a lot of time confined to a small hotel room while you travel for poker (or at home when you’re preparing to play online) it doesn’t mean you can’t break a sweat.
There’s the 20-Minute Hotel-Room Workout from Livestrong, or the 30-Minute Hotel-Room Workout from Warrior Mode. Pushed for time? Try the same from the 12-Minute Athlete or dip into a list of exercises suggested by Entrepreneur magazine.
In 2019, we consulted London-based yoga instructor Lauren Gasser, who came up with a series of yoga stretches that can be done in the five-minute tournament breaks afforded to online players. No excuses to miss this one.
Just like athletes, poker players at the highest level focus on healthy eating as one of the keys to their success.
We’re not here to recommend a diet fad. Just eat a nutritionally balanced diet and find out what works for you. If you’re playing long poker tournament sessions, you may want to ‘graze’ on healthy snacks, as big carb-heavy meals will knock your concentration right off.
Travelling for poker? We’ve got you covered.
Writing for PokerStars Blog in 2013, nutritionist Sara Varela offered some easy tips for a poker player’s diet during long trips to tournaments.
Varela listed some useful dos and don’ts for players at the airport, in transit and at the hotel, and also shared some simple healthy recipes — for avocado toast, a green smoothie and almond milk — all of which can be whipped up with only basic supplies and equipment.
Avoiding coffee and loading up on vitamin-rich foodstuffs is just a part of it, and the tips are well worth reading in full. Warning: may require the purchase of a travel blender.
Nobody wants to be “Emma”, the work colleague with a permanently bent back. It’s important to invest in ergonomic furniture for those long online grinds at your desk and practice keeping a good posture when playing both online and live poker.
Practicing these yoga moves will also help you maintain good posture.
Here’s a checklist from NHS UK that you can use to improve your online poker posture:
- Support your back
- Adjust your chair
- Rest your feet on the floor (don’t cross your legs)
- Place your screen at eye level
- Have the keyboard straight in front of you
- Keep your mouse close