Poker is many things to many people. For some, it’s a fun way to pass the time with friends. For others, it’s a serious business that demands the same kind of dedication and commitment as any other professional sport. The majority of players probably fall somewhere in between these two extremes. But whether you’re a recreational player or a would-be pro, there’s always something you can do to raise your game. It starts with building healthy new habits to become mentally and physically healthier and improve your poker skills. All it takes is a little discipline! Let’s take a closer look at how you can become better at playing online poker.
Meditate to raise your mental game
Poker is often classified as a mind sport rather than a game – and that is for very good reasons. It takes a lot of mental energy and endurance to gauge risks, read opponents, call bluffs and make decisions hand after hand. The trouble is that many players allow the things that life throws at them to leak into their decision-making process, and often they are unaware that this is happening. To deal with this, many pros are turning to meditation practice. This is the ability to focus on elements of your mind and body at will and hold your attention there. Daily meditation is a tried and trusted way to strengthen your mental game, enhance your concentration and improve your poker performance over long periods of time, especially in online poker tournaments! A great book on the topic is Yoga of Poker by poker pro Andrew “Lucky Chewy” Lichtenberger. It’s an accessible read designed to help all players to gain a competitive edge through mindfulness and meditation.
Get some exercise
Mental energy depends to a great extent on physical energy. No matter how mentally acute you may be, you won’t be able to perform at your best if you’re physically unfit. As a result, it’s critical to do some physical exercise every day. According to the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. You don’t have to sign up for CrossFit. A brisk 30-minute walk for five days a week will do! It’s also recommended to do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week. Lifting weights, using resistance bands and working in the garden are all good. If you struggle to motivate yourself to get off the couch, exercising with others can help. Why not round up some local poker players to form a fitness support group?
Feed your brain
The key to a healthy body and brain is a proper diet. Different foods affect your body in different ways, so be sure to mix things up. Green leafy vegetables top the list of foods that boost your brain and memory, thanks to their high levels of vitamin K, vitamin E, beta carotene and lutein. Fish such as cod, salmon and anchovies are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent cognitive decline. Other great sources of omega-3 are nuts, avocados, flaxseeds and olive oil. Another great brain food is berries. The reason they’re so bright is that they contain antioxidants and flavonoids, which help to ward off memory decline. Flavonoids have also been linked to brain processing speed, so it’s good to know they’re present in dark chocolate! Adding these foodstuffs to your diet is a great way to raise your vitality levels, especially if you get enough sleep and remember to stay hydrated. If possible, avoid stimulants and depressants such as coffee, alcohol and nicotine since they fog your thinking and are liable to make you tilt.
Continuous poker skills development
With a healthy mind, body and diet as your foundation, you’ll be in good shape to develop good poker training habits. It starts with expanding your mind. There’s nothing quite like a good poker book to broaden your mental horizons, so make a new habit of reading one or two pages every day. A good place to start would be The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky, an undisputed classic that covers bluffing, psychology, odds, position and other vital topics.
To complement your reading, work on your hand analysis. Find a poker forum, see what hand the experts are discussing then try to work it out for yourself. Post your results back on the forum and see how they compare. Do this every day and your analysis will improve to the point that you’ll be thinking like a poker pro.
Another healthy habit is to learn new poker concepts on a daily basis. Start by digging into frequently mentioned basic concepts such as hand ranges, pot odds and bet sizing. Can you explain them in your own words? It may be helpful to recruit another player as a study buddy.
Last but not least, keep your hand in! Playing a minimum number of hands every day is a surefire way to put your newly acquired poker skills into practice.
If you know how to improve at poker, you also know how to do better in life. One of the most healthy habits a poker player can adopt is to feed the lessons the game teaches them back into their life. The element of chance in poker teaches you to let go of the things you can’t control and make the best choices with the things you can. Another lesson is to learn from failure. Stop, reflect on the process and figure out what exactly is going on. Did you fail because you were unlucky or because you didn’t assess the situation correctly? If you see room for improvement, you’ll be in a place to do better next time the situation comes around.
Build your poker skills at BetMGM
Looking to improve your poker performance? Register at BetMGM and join our growing online poker community! Find cash games with stakes to suit your budget or join in our exciting online poker tournaments, from daily freerolls to two-day Texas Hold’em marathons with $1000 buy-ins. In between poker events, our online casino will keep you entertained with a broad range of online slots and classic casino table games. Think blackjack, roulette and baccarat served up in the latest RNG and live dealer variations.