9/30/11: Five Physical Practices for Poker Mindset
Mindset, mindset, mindset! Every issue of every Poker magazine has at least one article on mindset. You understand that focus, attention, memory, concentration and clarity of thought are key. You also know that if you have not cleared your head of hang ups, fears, negative habits and confidence issues, you will not go as far.
But have you considered this? Your head is attached to the rest of your body. Blood pH, O2 and CO2 levels, sugar and triglyceride levels, posture, and muscular tension all affect the mind. If you cannot get your body in tune, getting your “mindset” to cooperate will be much tougher.
As a pro, in addition to direct mindset work, we have to ‘work that body’.
Here are five practices to get your body in gear and improve the odds of making all the “mindset” tips actually work:
Hydration: Half your weight in ounces of water is the general rule for “enough water”. More than that and you will miss more hands than it’s worth ‘unloading’ (ahem). So here’s the tip: drink only water and lay off the sodas and fruit juices. Use energy drinks for energy only: when you need them and not for hydration. (This also avoids the racy feeling from caffeine overload.)
-More water = positive effects to your cardiovascular system (which includes your heart, blood and arteries/veins) = improved focus
Sleep: Please sleep no less than 7 hours. You need good sleep and to get good sleep, you need a routine. With long nights of poker it can be hard to hit the sack at the same time so have an end of day routine. (No not grinding cash online or live!) This end of day routine can be as important as your ‘pre-match’ routine.
- More sleep = rest from the stress of playing = improved mood, patience, focus
Movement: Your body was not meant to be still and seated for extended periods of time. (We were hunters not so long ago.) During breaks, have a formal sixty second stretching routine. This will ease tension, help you with emotional balance, and restore posture.
- Movement = blood flow = more oxygen to your brain = clear thinking and improved focus = less stress
Breathe: Sitting hunched over the table doesn’t give your lungs much room to expand. If you breathe shallowly, you circulate less oxygen, and move toxins through your system less quickly.
- Breathing = more oxygen to your brain = clear thinking and improved focus = less stress
Fuel: When you’re under stress (such as in a situation that makes your heart rate and blood pressure change regularly and without warning), your digestion is affected. You need fuel to keep you going and help you recover. Do this by following two rules.
1) Avoid fried food or fatty food (fatty includes pizza, red meat & cream base like ranch)
2) Eat fruits and/or vegetables at least once a day.
There is no quick fix. You will begin be adopting them once, but it will take many repetitions to become a habit. Further, it is the combination of these behaviors that leads to optimal results. You need to think of yourselves as athletes: they understand that constant attention to mind and body produces results. If you don’t think that was, you will lose a competitive edge to those who do.
Jen Dunphy is a certified professional Life Coach. Jennifer works with poker players as well as major gaming corporations in Las Vegas. How you live your life impacts your game and Jen is here to help you live the life you dream of having. Contact Jen through firstname.lastname@example.org.
No athlete would compete with an injured limb, and all athletes work out regularly to develop strength, stamina and flexibility. Poker is a “mind-sport” – all we use is our brain. Yet few poker players (with the exception of a few of the most successful ones) have a practice for exercising the mind, and a way to recover the mind from sub optimal states, known in poker as “tilt.” Mindset coaching provides both – a method for improving focus, concentration, and analytical reasoning, and a way to prevent tilt, or arrest it when it happens.
Every year more research uncovers the link between physical fitness, nutrition and cognitive performance.
But how does a player, with a few good habits and perhaps more bad ones, begin to use some of that knowledge.
Healthy Poker has two kinds of resources:
Articles and links to help you make more informed choices. (We will release one per week beginning in August – please join to receive notification.)
Coaching – to help you customize an exercise/ nutrition program that works for you (your preferences, lifestyle, goals and existing habits) AND to help you stick to it.
Many of the best known players in the game retain coaches to help them be their best physically and mentally.
The coaching process begins with a face-to-face assessment and design of a customized program.
This can be followed by frequent training sessions, or less frequent review sessions, or even short phone-coaching sessions to fine tune or help get back on track.
Healthy Poker’s featured coaches:
Jen brings enormous passion, professionalism and positivity to every coaching session.
She is a professional life coach, a master instructor and personal trainer in the fitness industry who works for executives of major corporations and poker professionals. She has over a decade of teaching experience and is an authority on lifestyle change, health and fitness. Jen trained at Coach Training Institute, and the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also a member of the International Coach Federation and IDEA Health and Fitness Association.
Kevin has been a personal trainer for 12 years working first in a large fitness facility in Madison, Wisconsin and now as an independent. He has a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Athletic Training from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Kevin was professionally certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) for Personal Training and also by the industry standard American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a Health/Fitness Instructor (now Health Fitness Specialist). Through the years I have set up programs for beginners numbering in the tens of thousands, and have personally trained hundreds of other clients ranging from beginners to elite junior hockey players, and mothers of four to Ironman triathletes (and sometimes both).