Mental Game Coach Jared Tendler has helped thousands of poker players increase their focus and mental endurance. This week he gives advice to all our PartyPoker WSOP qualifiers on how to stay sharp during the main event.
Of the thousands of players who compete in the WSOP main event, just a very small percentage of them are physically and mentally prepared for the gruelling task ahead of them.
If things go well, you will be playing consecutive 16 hour days with little time to rest and reset your mind. How you prepare before, during, and after each day is key to maintaining focus while you are playing through the marathon that is the WSOP.
Before You Fly Out
Playing for 16 hour days requires a lot of physical and mental stamina. You can prepare now to play longer sessions, so you are not overwhelmed when you get there. Mental stamina is just like physical endurance needed by a marathon runner; you cannot possibly expect to play at your best for 16 hours/day if you can only manage 5 or 6 hours in your normal routine.
To build endurance, steadily increase the amount of volume you add now by an hour/week, rather than trying to double it overnight. You wouldn’t expect to go from running three miles to running six in one day, and poker endurance is no different.
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The good news is that adrenaline will help you play longer, so you don’t have to build all the way up to 16 hours before you fly out. The excitement of being at the WSOP with a chance to live out a dream will give you a ton of motivation and focus. So, being able to play for 10 hours in a day is enough and adrenaline will get you through the rest.
Physical exercise not only prepares your body for the long toll ahead, it will sharpen your mind. Try and do it both before and during your stay in Vegas. Drink plenty of water, and not too much coffee because the short-term benefits are outweighed by the crash and mental misfiring that happens, especially at the end of the day or under intense pressure.
Also, try and stay ahead of hunger. If you are hungry, it’s already too late—your focus has already dropped. Instead, try eating small snacks often, rather than big meals which can make you feel sluggish.
If you put in a lot of volume online then coping with the slower pace may be the biggest challenge. This is an instance where tweeting can keep your mind busy enough to not lose too much focus. (Be sure to keep it as poker relevant to the WSOP as possible).
Before you get to Vegas, play a few sessions online playing only one table or of course some live sessions at your local casino. Doing this is a chance to find out what your mind thinks about when you’re bored. Doing this now before you go to Vegas will help you be able to spot it faster in the moment, allowing you to refocus faster, and make sure you’re playing your best.
Jared Tendler is poker’s leading expert in the mental game. He coaches some of the top players in poker and over a 150 other pros from around the world. Jared’s new book “The Mental Game of Poker,” is now available at www.mentalgameofpoker.com.