When we think of poker, we may think of excesses at the casino, or the smoke-filled back room of a bar – neither of which we can pretend are good for wellness. However, with the growing popularity of poker, particularly the Texas Hold’em variant, which you’ll see all over TV, the game has shaken off much of these old stereotypes. When we look at the professionals in broadcasted tourneys, we see folks from all walks of life. Chris Moneymaker was an accountant, Shannon Elizabeth a an actress. Fedor Holz was winning World Series of Poker bracelets at 23, Doyle Brunson played at the top level until he was 85. What is it about poker that’s inspired such seemingly disparate folks to reach the very top?
One thing you’ll notice at pro tournaments is there are no cocktail waitresses bringing drinks to the players – any bottles round the table will be strictly mineral water. Poker requires concentration, quick calculations and mental agility, and that’s as true of online poker as it is of live games. Top Alzheimer’s Disease expert Dr. Jeffrey Cummings asserts that playing mentally challenging games can decrease the chances of developing the condition dramatically, with poker being one of the best bets.
While online poker has gone from strength to strength – no doubt aided/exacerbated by the lockdown periods of recent times – it’s hard to beat an evening round the kitchen table with some friends and a game of cards. As we start to open our social circles back up, we’re re-strengthening bonds. Laughter, like exercise, releases endorphins that contribute to our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s an excuse to get dressed up, which many of us might not have had for some time, which encourages a positive self-image, and if that’s a little disappointing post-lockdown may lead us back into exercise – virtuous circles are always good, even if created accidentally.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Then you can look into the best poker tips for people who truly want to excel, and it’s somewhat surprising how many of them tend to focus on general wellness. Top professional Daniel Negreanu has famously been vegan since 2006. Eugene Katchalov has been featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine. The rationale is fairly simple; your mind won’t perform at its best if your body isn’t also running efficiently. Many online players use standing desks, which may be a shrewd purchase for the increasing number of folks working from home.
Poker, like life, is a game where we can only play the hand we’re dealt. It’s up to us how we play it. Psychologist Maria Konnikova became interested in the behaviors and psyches related to poker and hired a coach to teach her. The aim was to write a book – which she did – however she also won almost $100k within 18 months of first picking up a deck of cards. Her takeaways were that chance is simply chance – in an environment where outcomes are uncertain, we cannot control the circumstances we’re given. However we can control our decision making, our reactions, our thought processes. The most useful tip in poker, she asserts, is ‘check your ego at the door’. Which sounds very much like a very useful tip for life.