When I first started taking poker more seriously I always used to read about professional players logging eight hour sessions and just wonder how on Earth they used to manage it because I'd be defeated after 45-60 minutes of play.
Over the years I have managed to pick up some tips that should help you to stay at the actual and virtual felt for longer.
Make Yourself Comfortable
This is one of the most overlooked areas for players, especially recreational ones. They simply sit down on the sofa, log onto their favoured poker site and start to play. Unfortunately they fail to realise that is is important to be comfortable in your surroundings because if not you will first start to fidget around, then your seat will become uncomfortable and be an unwelcome distraction from the task in hand.
It is no surprise that some of the best online poker players in the world have invested in an expensive chair, numerous monitors, gaming mice and purpose built desks. If every part of you is comfortable you are naturally going to be able to stay in that spot for longer.
Our bodies are made up of XXX% water and therefore we need to constantly replenish the stocks. Although drinking plenty of fluids has the undesired effect of needing to go to the toilet more often (only undesired whilst you are in the middle of a poker session obviously) it is crucial to keep you focussed and to keep your concentration levels high.
Just a small drop in the levels of water in your body can make you feel hungry, lethargic and your level of concentration will wane. Regular consumption of water will do you wonders not just in poker but in everything else that you do too. By the way, if you are actually feeling thirsty then the other symptoms described will almost certainly have reared their ugly little heads.
Avoid Sugary Snacks And Caffeine
Cans of Red Bull and shots of espresso go hand-in-hand with the image of a poker player but they are actually quite a poor choice of drink if you are planning on a long poker session. Whilst it is true that the drinks mentioned will give you a short-term boost due to the effects of the caffeine, in the longer term the caffeine will dehydrate you and you will get a "caffeine crash" where once the effects of it wear off you feel even more tired.
The same goes for foods high in sugar, the crash occurs with these because your body burns the calories in them much easier and faster than other foods so you get a short, sharp burst of energy followed by a low, sinking crash. During this second phase guess what happens? Your concentration levels drop, you feel tired and continuing to play poker is one of the last things on your mind.
Keep slow energy releasing foods like nuts to hand, fruit such as bananas are great too but avoid playing shortly after a heavy, stodgy meal because it will be difficult for your body to digest and will divert blood to your stomach and away from where it is needed; your brain!
Stretch It Out
Much like if you were on a long journey you should perform a number of stretches to keep your muscles subtle and to help prevent cramp setting in and to keep the blood pumping around your body.
People naturally slump and slouch in their chairs and that can make your shoulders ache and generally be uncomfortable. Rotate your shoulders clockwise and anti-clockwise, reach above your head, stretch your arms, back, legs and calf and when the breaks do come around make sure you leave your seat even if it is only to go to the toilet and grab some more water!
As a footnote, even doing all of the above will not mean you can go from playing 30 minute bursts to suddenly be logging 12 hour sessions but they will help you take a step in the right direction. Slowly build up your playing time and you will be build up your stamina like a sports person does.
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