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Taking a Break from Poker – Part One

keep-calm-Although the reasons to may vary, taking a break from the tables can be difficult to do. Let’s look into some of the reasons a break is in order and the benefits of stepping away.

Pressing Pause

You couldn’t name any activity that doesn’t have a limit. Whether it is pure overindulgence that draws us in or something more irrational, over-staying our welcome is part of the ongoing relationship we have with so many things. Eating too much fast food? Playing too much Xbox? Working to much? No joke, some people actually spend too much time at their job.

Regardless of the over-extension, breaking away is hard. Let me correct that. Knowing when to break away is hard. Once you know you need to, doing it is not as bad as you think.

How do you know when taking a hiatus is in order? Here are some signs:

  • You don’t enjoy playing
  • You are playing to avoid doing something else important
  • You haven’t slept
  • You feel unhealthy
  • You are losing and throwing good money after bad
  • You have lost sight of your reasons for playing
  • Your playing approach has changed for the worse
  • You can’t stop tilting

Some of these overlap. The main thing is that playing-on is causing more problems for you than it solves. This might be hard to recognize when you are eyeballs deep into the game but you can proactively account for this with some thoughtful planning.

Large and Recharged

A simple break, whether it is a 15 minute nap or 30 minute walk, can rejuvenate you and give you a new kick to your game. This short-term time management is good to keep you fresh for your session.

Are you due for a bigger break than this? Even when you are winning, taking a longer break is healthy. Perhaps it is taking a few days off or may be it is weeks or months. Sometimes, like how punishments aim to fit the crime, a longer break is good for specific symptoms.

For instance, if you flat-out don’t like playing anymore, no length of nap will solve this. You need a bigger reboot and not think about the game for a while. Let the burnout pass. You’ll know because you will be drawn to jump back in.

Tilting, on the other hand, can be well-served by taking a few minutes or hours away from the game. While chronic tilting might not be rectified by short-breaks, walking away after 3 or 4 bad beats can be useful. Think of it as a way to “count to 10” to flush out the emotional over-reaction.

But if you are not keeping good care of yourself, neglecting your responsibilities in other areas of your life, or being too socially reclusive, you should really consider a longer break. For online play, most sites allow you to pause your account for a certain amount of time. This way, you can’t even log on to play during the lock-out. Not being able to play even though you are tempted to return before you are ready is a great management strategy.

Poker is a Marathon

We are not all blessed with strong will-power to step back when we need to. Knowing the signs above will help you get better at it. Poker is much more of a marathon than a sprint.

The best way to keep your game in a balanced state is to plan session breaks to stay fresh, preventing you from ever emptying the tank. In concert, you can plan days, even weeks off in your calendar where you completely avoid the tables. This simple strategies can have profound effects on your mental and physical state, especially over the long haul.

If you truly love the game and want to master it, knowing when to take a break will be invaluable your long-term success. As usual, the game is not going anywhere. If you feel like you are getting eaten up, press pause before it even gets the chance to wear you down.

Kelly Doell, PhD is a mental performance consultant. He is always ready to speak to you about your mental game at www.KellyDoell.com



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