As poker players know, very few things can’t be measured in dollars, but health is definitely one of them. Staying healthy should be a top priority for anyone, especially someone sitting at a PC or a poker table for hours and hours at a time.
Improving your heath is one of the single most +EV things you can do. Good health will reflect on you in the long run and on your game sooner than you might think. Here are the top 10 ways you can stay healthy if poker takes up a good amount of your time.
10. Take Regular Breaks
Breaks are essential to staying fresh and alert. Even 1-2 minute breaks every few hours can be a great way to quickly replenish some much needed energy. Fortunately, most online poker rooms have synchronized tournament breaks every hour and cash game players can take breaks at any time they please, so only sit & go players have to actually time their breaks!
More substantial breaks are even more important. You can’t expect to grind for weeks or months on end and keep your motivation high all the time. Even if you are used to hardcore grinding with only a few days rest every month, sometimes it’s necessary to just take at least a week off and get away from poker completely. If you don’t get away from poker at least once in a while, sooner or later you will experience burn out, and that might take you out of the action for much longer than a week.
9. Draw up a Diet Plan
You are what you eat, so it’s only natural that your diet influences most aspects of your life. Grabbing a Big Mac or a bucket of KFC once in a while won’t hurt you, but if that’s a big part of what you eat, you can expect your health to respond accordingly.
The mostly ‘sit and stare’ lifestyle of a poker player only amplifies the negative effects of a bad diet, so this is definitely something you should spend time figuring out. When it comes to eating healthy, there is no one fits all solution, so be prepared to spend time constructing a personal diet, which might require professional consultation to get right.
8. Get Healthier Snacks
Apart from your regular meal plan, you will definitely have some snacks in between meals. This is also a great opportunity to improve your health, since replacing chocolate bars, cookies and nachos with bananas, almonds and rice cakes will definitely benefit you in the long run.
7. Drink the Right Stuff
If you are a fan of Coke or any other similar drinks it can be hard to replace them with anything else. However, there are a lot of options out there, so if you are used to downing a few big gulps during an average poker session, you might want to consider healthier options.
Coffee is a great drink for poker players, always providing a boost when needed without a single calorie to go with it! Of course, drinking huge amounts of coffee is not the best approach either, so you’ll need to supplement it with other healthy drinks. In fact, the healthiest thing you can drink is not some fancy tea or freshly squeezed orange juice, it’s water, so if you don’t really care how your drink tastes, you should always go with water.
6. Reduce Physical Strain
If you are a professional poker player, then there’s a good chance that you are also good at hardcore partying. This is one of the great perks provided by the lifestyle – the ability to choose your own hours and thus having the freedom to party whenever you feel like it.
However, most things are good in moderation and going out and partying definitely falls into this category. Excessive partying can put immense strains on your body and drastically reduce your abilities. As far as poker goes, you should definitely stay away from grinding in any capacity after a night out.
5. Reduce Mental Strain
Reducing mental strain is closely linked to taking regular breaks during sessions, but unfortunately, mental strain also has the ability to accumulate. Many players might have experienced this when suffering from bad beats. You might think that the more bad beats you go through, the easier it will be to deal with them, and that’s true, if you manage your mental strain correctly.
If mental strain continues to pile up, not only will you not become more tolerant of bad beats, but with time they will become more and more irritating, eventually taking a toll on your game. Regularly clearing your thoughts is the best way to avoid this. Some players do yoga, others take their time lying by the beach and just listening to the waves. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it works for you.
4. Get Fit
Being fit doesn’t necessarily mean being a bodybuilder. If you can run a mile without collapsing half way through gasping for air, you are probably fit, even if you can’t bench press your own weight.
What general fitness does for poker players is help out with other important things like physical and mental strain. You can be sure that the healthier and fitter you are, the more stamina you will have, increasing you physical and mental breaking points.
3. Get an Ergonomic Chair
Proper posture can be really important if you spend a ridiculous amount of hours in front of a monitor every day. Ergonomic chairs are the best option for poker players in this regard, though they can cost quite a lot.
If you are used to reclining in your chair or just playing sitting on sofa, these chairs can be quite a change at first, even feeling uncomfortable. However, that’s something that you should really try and push through and after a few weeks you’ll notice the positive effects it has on your back.
2. Manage Your Eye Strain
Staring at a monitor as long as most poker players do can have enormous negative effects on your eyesight. Simple routines like regular blinking and taking a few minutes off to do some eye exercises are a great way to maintain your eye health.
Other important things that minimize eye strain include installing proper lighting. Just like reading a book, the more light there is, the less strain your eyes will suffer. If you are really serious about poker, consider investing in a good monitor with high resolution.
1. Get Some Sleep!
Last but not least, get some sleep! Whatever you do to stay healthy, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get enough sleep. The amount of sleep someone needs in completely personal. Some people do just fine with six hours of sleep per day, while others can’t get going without ten.
Figure out exactly how much sleep you need every night and make sure you get it. Nothing affects your mental abilities like lack of sleep, even if you don’t really feel the effects. A good example is trying to play back-to-back tournament sessions. If you start at 11 in the morning on Saturday, play for 16 hours straight and then try to do the same on Sunday, you can be pretty sure that Sunday will not go well for you.