Don’t forget fuel for the poker mind

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By Matthew Gregoire

I have been playing poker for a long time, and in the process I’ve tried a lot of things to help me stay motivated and focused at the table. One of my successful conclusions is to make sure I’m prepared for my poker session. The most important aspect for me is to make sure I have plenty of healthy snacks and a small meal at my disposal.

When players are at the poker table, they have a lot of distractions that can cause them to become unfocused. Television, gambling, noise, cocktail waitresses, electronics, among other things can easily distract you from your goal, which is to make money.

I find when I’ve brought items to eat it becomes easy to give myself small breaks. I don’t take the same approach most poker players do and eat at the table, as I find this lifestyle quite unhealthy. If you’re looking to play at your highest level, you must be zoned in on everything going on. It’s tough to do this while eating at the table, not to mention most of the items offered for table service are unhealthy.

My bag of goodies normally contains nuts, fruit and a sandwich or two (I prefer organic bread instead of the cheap alternatives). Every couple of hours I will get up to take a walk and eat one of these snacks while I’m away from the action. If you take these breaks every couple of hours it accomplishes a few objectives: You get to detach yourself from the table and recollect on the action that has happened. It allows you to fuel your body with foods that will provide energy to keep your mind sharp and focused on poker. Third, it gives you a chance to relax yourself.

Poker can be mentally and physically demanding and most people choose to cope with these issues irresponsibly. Players often resort to drinking caffeine, energy drinks or alcohol at the table, and these are all items that can hinder play. Consuming these items strains the body and most people don’t realize it. Processing caffeine or energy drinks will make people jittery and more likely to give off tells. Alcohol clouds judgment for decisions that can make our day profitable.

Consuming healthy items may seem difficult since most people think it’s too expensive and too much effort to prepare. If you avoid eating out you will save money in the long run and feel much better. Large meals at the table can take our body’s focus away from the game and direct it toward digesting our meal.

If you come prepared for your session it will give you an edge with which most opponents can’t compete. We all have the same amount of time in a day; it’s how we choose to use it that counts.

— Email Matthew Gregoire at editor@anteupmagazine.com.