It doesn't matter if you've read every poker book and blog ever written, watched all the training videos, and hired a dozen mentors: all that prep work won't help you if you can't sit still and focus when the time comes to get grinding.
Even if you're playing smaller, faster games where you don't have to sit long, you will always have to focus. And of course, in big games with big fields, you're in for the long haul.
What do you do when - despite eating right, getting active, and getting a good night's sleep - you still find yourself struggling to be still and focus? You're pretty much tied to your seat: it's not like you can get up anytime you want and go for a nap, or jog. Well, not if you want to win.
And we all know stimulants like coffee or energy drinks only give you a temporary lift, leaving you even more agitated and tired after the effects have worn off.
But that doesn’t mean you’re condemned to stifling yawns and trying to rein in your wandering mind. When you find yourself in a slump despite solid pre-game prep, there are still a few trusted and tried techniques you can use to instantly bolster your focus, patience and performance.
3 Ways to Instantly Increase Your Performance
1. Breathe deeply.
Poker is a rollercoaster, and there are going to be hands that have you holding your breath. Try not to! Breathing fully and deeply provides oxygen to every single cell in your body - including the cells in your brain - so if you find yourself feeling a little foggy, take a few deep breaths. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Slowly and evenly. Not only will this help energize your cells, but it will also help calm you down if you're feeling anxious.
2. Kill it with kombucha.
This sweet fermented tea is the ultimate pick-me-up. Many people even say they get a little buzz from it, though not the kind you'd get from booze or coffee. There's no crash, and you won't feel the need to chase the high. The kombucha buzz is a subtle vibration that makes you feel alert, present and tuned into your mind and body.
Other health benefits of kombucha include preventing degenerative diseases, and – since it’s a probiotic - promoting digestive health. This said, if you plan to drink this powerful bevy, get your gut used to it at least a week before or you may be running to the bathroom at some crucial moment in the game. (If your system is already used to probiotics, this probably won’t be an issue.)
3. Sit up straight!
Just like your Momma told you. If you don't want be a slouch at the tables, then don't slouch! Maintaining a long, straight spine not only makes you look more confident - setting you apart as a force to be reckoned with and thereby increasing your fear equity- but it also improves your ability to breathe deeply. What’s more, according to studies at San Francisco State University, it can also make you feel more alert, happier, and can improve your memory and help you digest (which is important if you are returning to the tables after a meal and don't want to be sluggish).
Now, of course none of these tricks are going to save you if you went bar hopping last night, hit the breakfast buffet hardcore this morning and didn't sleep more than a couple of hours. If you arrive at the tables already depleted, your game is going to suffer. No amount of deep breathing, kombucha or perfect posture is going to save you.
However, if you show up in fine form, these three easy to implement and easy to remember strategies can and will help tow you along through the natural and unavoidable hills and valleys of extended play. Try them out next time you settle in for a long session. I promise you'll see a difference.