Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Poker, whether played recreationally or professionally, demands a sharp mind and keen focus. Just like any other mentally intensive task, long hours of play can lead to fatigue. This isn’t just about feeling tired; fatigue in poker has layers of implications that many players might overlook.

The first thing to understand is the nature of poker itself. It’s a game of strategy and psychology, where every move your opponent makes can be a clue and every decision you make can change the outcome. In such a high-tension environment, mental endurance becomes critical. Without it, even the best players can make poor decisions. A well-rested body can lead to sharper decision-making, faster reaction times, and better strategic planning. Many seasoned players may realize they sometimes neglect the importance of managing fatigue during games.

Apart from fatigue, proper hydration and nutrition play a pivotal role in cognitive performance. As Vince Lombardi, the US Football coach, said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” In poker, fatigue not only hampers our decision-making but can lead to many negative consequences at the table.

Beware! Fatigue can hit without us knowing

Fatigue’s effects can sneak up on us, altering our gameplay without us even noticing. Instead of feeling overtired, we might unknowingly switch to ‘auto-pilot’, which can lead to suboptimal play. This lack of deep thinking means we might not maximize our game’s potential – whether it’s odds, pot odds, fold equity, or other strategic aspects.

When a player is fatigued, they might miss obvious tells from their opponents or misjudge the strength of their hand relative to the community cards. This can lead to missed opportunities or, worse, significant losses. It’s also essential to recognize that fatigue can manifest subtly. A player might not feel “tired” in the traditional sense but could be operating at a reduced mental capacity. This is where the danger often lies. When in this state of subtle fatigue, a player might believe they’re making good decisions when, in fact, they’re making errors they wouldn’t usually make.

Incorporating short mindfulness or meditation breaks can help in regaining focus. Many online players are currently making decisions under the influence of unnoticed fatigue. The best remedy is prevention, which includes a good sleep schedule and regular physical activity.

Online poker presents its own set of challenges. With the convenience of playing from home and the ability to join multiple tables simultaneously, players might be tempted to play for extended periods without taking adequate breaks. This can quickly lead to a state of burnout where, even if they’re winning, they might not be performing at their best.

Always Set Time/Session Limits

So, what can be done? The first step is awareness. Recognizing the signs of fatigue and being honest with oneself about one’s state is crucial.

Taking regular breaks, ensuring proper sleep, and maintaining a balanced diet can make a world of difference. Hydration is another key factor; drinking water regularly can aid concentration.

Setting limits is also a good practice.This doesn’t just mean financial limits but also time limits. While it sounds basic, many players don’t set proper session limits. Deciding in advance how long a session will last can provide a structure and reduce the risk of fatigue-induced mistakes. Establishing a routine that includes warm-up exercises for the brain, such as puzzles or memory games, can set the stage for better performance.

Tournament players should be ready for lengthy sessions. If feeling alert seems challenging, it might be better to skip a game. Platforms like GGPoker offer insights on tournament durations, making it easier for players to plan.

Cash game players need full alertness. Fatigue can quickly manifest as errors or a shrinking stack. Even moments of poor judgement can significantly impact the game.

Planning your sessions, like an hour for a single table or 30 minutes for three tables, is crucial.

At YourPokerDream, we encourage players to maximize their potential, but not at the expense of well-being. Balance is key. Opt for quality over quantity. Taking breaks, eating balanced meals, staying hydrated, or even sleeping are essential for recharging. Remember, you can’t lose money if you’re not playing, and a healthy player is often a winning player.


· Published 12.06.2018 · last updated 29.09.2023