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Good Health is Vital for a Happy Life and a Fine Tournament

It’s easy to see the need for physical training and excellent health when one participates in the more physical sports. 

Health and training are important in poker as well.  Sitting around the poker table for long hours and staying mentally sharp requires excellent health and athletic training.

Prepare Body and Mind in Order to Have a Great Tournament

One of the areas of poker play that gets the least discussion is taking care of yourself during a tournament.  Office workers know to get up and walk around every hour or so.  Long distance air travelers are well aware of the same advice.  Online poker players never have a problem with getting up since the bathroom and the kitchen are only a few steps away.  This is just one more advantage of playing poker online over playing in a land-based casino tournament where you might feel intimidated by being watched as you do some deep stretches in front of your opponents and the spectators.
We read every day about new ways to stay healthy for the short and the long term.  Health consciousness is in the news every day.  Tournament play requires some re-evaluation of your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits so it is as pertinent as any news about poker might be.
So, here are a few excellent pointers that will keep you healthy not only for the duration of the tournament but always.

Eat Foods that Agree with You

There are many people who are mildly lactose intolerant and experience a small degree of stomach upset after they eat cheese.  The same may occur after ice cream or even yogurt.  If you feel that you are even mildly lactose intolerant, you ought to avoid all dairy products at least during the tournament.
A mild stomach upset might not send you scurrying to the bathroom but it might impede your ability to think out a situation and poker is, if anything, a series of situations that you have to think out.
The same applies to meat, poultry, and fish.  Some people tolerate these foods well whilst others tolerate fish, perhaps, but not beef or pork.  You need to be aware of yourself and eat only those animal products that you tolerate absolutely well.
A lot of poker players think that they have to give up forever the foods they love the most but that is not the case.  It IS important to give up some foods for the duration of the tournament.

Eat Foods that are Easy to Digest

This might eliminate such hard to digest foods as legumes.  Once again, as in the above discussion, you need to know yourself well.  If you tolerate beans better than most then go ahead and eat them.  If you tolerate them poorly, give them up temporarily.
Everyone has some foods that they don’t digest well.  Leave these out of your tournament menu.  If you do some research online, you’ll read that food X is great whilst food Y is terrible.  The opposite might be the reality for you.

Avoid Eating White Foods

Almost everyone does better eating whole foods so brown rice is preferable over white rice, whole grain bread or pasta is preferable over the refined kind, and white sugar is generally seen as being very bad.
Many people don’t do well with artificial sweeteners either so once again self-awareness is vital.

Going Vegan

It’s hard to go fully vegan but it’s a lot less difficult to go vegan for the short period of time you’ll be playing in a tournament.  Plant-based diets are becoming very popular.  If you do go vegan for the tournament, be aware that some vegan-friendly products are also being mass produced.  They are nearly as bad as non-vegan food as they are super high in salt and preservatives.
So, if you can, you might try going vegan and fresh rather than vegan and factory-produced.

Avoid Oil

Also, some people who go vegan gain weight because they add a lot of oil to their diets.  When we gain weight, we become sluggish and drowsy so even if you can’t go fully vegan for the tournament, try to keep the amount of oil you consume to a very small minimum.
This might eliminate fried foods of all sorts and added salad dressings but you’ll stay fresh and sharp throughout the tournament if you do so.

Vitamins and Minerals

It is probably a good idea to take a vitamin and mineral supplement every day.  Our food is much more processed than ever before so adding vitamins and minerals may be the best way to stay healthy during a tournament and permanently.

Sleep Well

Most people don’t get enough sleep.  Work and family obligations often keep people awake after they should have gone to sleep and a lot of people like to “party” after all they complete all their daily obligations.  At least during the tournament, get plenty of sound sleep in a room that is neither too warm nor too cold.


We all know the value and importance of regular exercise.  During a tournament, you will not turn into an Adonis if you walk a kilometer or two but it will help your blood circulation.  Some exercise is very important both before the day’s poker activity and after.  It’s also very important to exercise in reactive moderation.  There is nothing more debilitating than shin splints or plantar fasciitis that develops because you overdid the exercising.
During the long tournament hours, you absolutely have to get up and stretch.  Otherwise, you are likely to get muscle cramps which obviously will hurt your chances of winning.
There are many ways to exercise.  Some people thrive on Eastern forms of exercise whilst others do best with Western types of exercise.  Whichever works best for you is the type of exercise you ought to incorporate in your daily routine.

Avoid Stress

We now know that stress has physical consequences and the more stressed we are the worse the physical consequences become.  Poker tournaments are certainly highly stressful events for the participants.  Poker may not rank as high as debilitating illness, financial loss, or family problems but they are stressful nevertheless.  It’s important to stay on an even keel throughout the tournament.  Players have to practice and train to reduce the negative side effects of stress.
One excellent technique for relieving and controlling stress is to breathe deeply and slowly. 


Knowing how to play poker is, of course, the most important element in your potential success in any tournament.  But staying healthy is a very close second.  If you are less healthy than your opponents, it will probably show up in an early exit from the tournament.