Texas Hold ‘Em: You’re Only Human, Again

Right off the bat: I am in no way a fan of holistic “medicine” or physical healing beyond the most minor, anecdotally-evidenced things. However, I do think there’s a real connection between taking care of mental fatigue and improvement in things such as poker and other intellectually-oriented games.

We continue the discussion on how you can better take care of yourself with a look at a simple meditation technique that can help you regain your focus and get back in the game in only ten to twenty minutes a day. I’ve been practicing it myself lately in the evening between games and I’ve found it’s a great way to re-center myself and give me a chance to dispel some of the anger and frustration that can occur while playing.

First of all, sit in a comfortable position. While meditation brings up images of people who are cross-legged on a wooden floor listening to Yanni or Enigma, it can be much less goofy (and more practical) than that – you can do it in the very computer chair you play online poker in!

First, sit comfortably and relax. Then, sit up tall with your spine straight, the shoulders relaxed, and your chest “open.” Rest your hands on your knees with the palms facing upwards and lightly touch the index finger to the thumb in the meditation pose you’ve seen on hundreds of ads for yoga classes. Relax your face, jaw and belly and let your tongue rest on the roof of your mouth, just behind the front teeth just as if you were going to click your tongue. Close your eyes gently.

Once you’ve relaxed and assumed the position, breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply in and out through the nose. This is something that takes deliberate practice: let your inhalation start in the belly and then rise gently up into the chest. As your breath slows and deepens, let go of any thoughts or distractions and focus on the act of breathing. Feel each breath as it moves in and out of the body, feeling it move through the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs. Feel as your body as it rises and falls with each breath. Bring as much of your awareness and attention to your body and breath as possible with each moment. As the thoughts return to the mind, let them go, and return the focus back to the body and breath.

Just practice this meditation for ten to twenty minutes and you’re likely to find that you’re much more relaxed. When you “come back,” take a moment before getting up and going about your business. You’re likely to find that this is a great way to get yourself in the right headspace before a poker tournament, either in a card room or online.