Can Meditation Really Help Improve Your Poker?
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Meditation is universally accepted as having massive benefits for our health and wellbeing. However, have you ever considered how helpful the practice could be in improving other areas of your life?
There are so many crossovers that people may not associate as such, but if you think a little deeper, the connections are there. One of the most common forms of meditation is practised by using music to create a positive mindset, but the sounds are also used to encourage those who run to go faster, further and feel good.
Another popular pastime that reaps the rewards from meditation is one of the world’s most popular games right now, poker. It’s estimated that as many as 100 million people play the game globally, and those players should consider taking up meditation to help their game because, according to one of the most successful players in the world, it’s been vital to his rise to the top.
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Daniel Negreanu is a six-time winner of the World Series of Poker and has amassed well over $42million in earnings from his time at the table so far.
Although it doesn’t mean that it’s been a walk in the park for the Canadian who admits he’s gone through some tough times.
Negreanu says that having a positive outlook is one of the key mental skills needed when learning to play poker, because there are so many emotions involved in the game. “People often ask me how to deal with a bad beat, and my answer to that is to take 3-5 deep breaths.
It’s a form of meditation that can help centre you and relieve the body of anxiety. As you meditate more often, this practice can help you deal with these situations more easily.
There is no wrong way to do meditation, thoughts will come and go, and the mind is designed to have thoughts. Over time, the thoughts don’t go away, but you become better at simply noticing them and separating yourself from your mind’s thoughts.”
Focus is another area in which meditation can help those who take to the poker table, as not only are there challenging moments in the game but there are also distractions to contend with.
People are walking around the table in the casino, and for those playing online, there are annoying notifications that could attract your gaze at that vital moment; it’s a cognitive overload. Also, with the games often taking around an hour to complete, it’s easy for players to find their minds wandering elsewhere, so maintaining attention is crucial.
There is evidence that mindfulness meditation can improve both these aspects, as it trains your mind to be in charge of your attention, keeping you present, which is a key component in your armoury in a game of poker.
As with each hand, you have so much to consider that the slightest distraction could derail your chances of making the right decisions which means you’re not playing to the best of your ability.
Meditation can help with your general fitness; after all, it involves staying still for significant periods, which is actually harder than you might think.
If you meditate by doing yoga, you can improve your flexibility as well, and both of these can help with poker. How? Poker is a game that often goes on for hours, running deep into the night.
It requires you to be seated for much of the time, focused on the game and not on your position or posture. That’s how meditation can help; it tunes your body to remain sedentary.
While these practices are beneficial in improving your poker game, that’s shown in how meditation helped Negreanu become successful.
But by regularly practising meditation will also mean you’ll be in complete control away from the table. As these thinking patterns will be ones you also likely apply to, benefit from every day in all aspects of your life.
MindEasy founder & meditation teacher
Griff Williams is an accredited meditation teacher and founder of MindEasy. He spent 12 years working as a London firefighter before changing paths to pursue building MindEasy. He received his diploma in meditation teaching from The British School of Meditation.