Winning Poker Players Maintain Peak Mental and Physical Performance Levels

One of the most important qualities of a professional poker player is the ability to master your self-control. Dedicated players know they must exercise both their brain and their body when they are away from the table in order to stay sharp and focused during the crucial moments of a major tournament.

Reaching peak mental performance levels is not about just being smart, although it can be argued that players like Antonio Esfandiari and Vanessa Selbst are probably way up there in the IQ department. It is about strengthening and expanding your neural networks through learning experiences and pushing the brains capacity to react and store information. Your brain can improve doing anything from learning new languages to playing games.

Poker is a great game to keep your intellect sharp as it combines strategy with problem solving. Players must constantly read the table to figure out what other players have or manipulate them into folding a better hand. Playing multiple games of poker online at the same time improves multitasking, efficiency and increases the ability to be strategic on several fronts at once.

When away from the table, some pros like ElkY enjoy playing video games too. This Hearthstone playing Twitch celebrity believes video games improve his spatial awareness and logical intelligence. A 2014 National Academy of Sciences study stated that video games can help “facilitate the development of better perceptual templates,” meaning they teach the brain to focus more rapidly, understand and organize the input and make refined decisions quicker, which is always important during a poker competition. Even games like checkers and chess can keep the brain stimulated and improve problem solving and strategic awareness.

Improving and maintaining physical fitness is also important to the professional poker player. One of poker’s all time biggest money earner, Daniel Negreanu, stated how poker has changed. In the past, high profile players were often obese, now they are fit. Poker players are more educated and care much more about their health than in the past. It takes a lot of stamina to be able to sit for 12 hours or more during a tournament, and staying active can also increase your brain power, on and off the table.

While amateur poker players may think poker is merely a game of the mind, professionals know that to become the very best player you must also maintain peak physical performance levels. Not only does exercise reduce stress (and playing in a world championship game can be stressful) it also stimulates proteins and chemicals that protect existing brain cells and regenerate new ones. Also, poker players are at risk of developing disorders and diseases associated with sitting for long periods of time, either at a tournament or in front of a computer, which is why some players take their ten minutes between games to do burpees or jumping jacks.

Regardless of whether you play for fun online or take part in poker tournaments to become a professional, it is increasingly important to exercise your brain and your body when away from the table. Not only will it keep you sharper as you play, but you will also live longer to reap your rewards.


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