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Preparing To Get Back To Work… Eventually

by Gavin Griffin |  Published: Feb 10, 2021

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Gavin GriffinI was scrolling through Twitter, as I’m wont to do when trying to distract myself from the outside world, and came across a post by Phil Galfond.

“Any poker-related New Year’s resolutions out there? Let’s see them.”

My first thought was that I’d like to actually play poker at some point this year. Since I haven’t really felt comfortable being in a casino over the last ten months and my local casino has even been shut down for large chunks of that time, I have only played a handful of poker sessions. Additionally, I enjoy having my home be a poker-free zone. I feel like it has been healthy for me to not have the pull of the computer around, making me feel like I’m wasting my time when I’m not grinding online poker.

I realize that plenty of people have started going back to their local cardrooms, but I also know that I’m not the only person who avoided casinos as much as possible during the last year, so hopefully the things I’ve been thinking about can be helpful for my readers.

In a perfect world, I would have spent some of the downtime I’ve had studying my most played games. That would be a perfect world, but with a virtual school at my house and kids, I did not do that. So, if you’re more disciplined than me, or have less to distract you, spend some time studying your game of choice.

That sounds like a simple idea, but some people don’t know what that process looks like. They read or hear people telling them to study, but how helpful is that if you don’t know what studying poker is? There are all sorts of good tools for that in our current day and age from the poker books, training sites, range tools and solvers, hand history aggregators, and I’m sure things I haven’t yet heard about.

Training sites are a great place to start for all of this. They should have videos and articles for all skill levels and give you great introductions to all of the other types of studying tools I mentioned above. Even if you think you’re past the beginner stage of your poker career, it’s not a bad idea to watch some basic videos so you can refresh yourself on fundamentals if you haven’t been playing for a while.

Some of the start-up costs for these courses and sites could feel like they are high. You might think $100 for a training course or $1,500 for a yearly site membership looks like quite a bit of money, but when you consider that it may turn you from a losing player to a winning player, increase your win rate in your current game, or give you the skills to move up in stakes and win, the prices are actually relatively low.

So, after re-acclimating your brain to the fundamentals of poker and actually improving your game through study, what else can we do to make sure we’re ready for the next time we step foot in a casino to play poker?

The first few months of quarantine were not kind to my waistline, and led to me adding about 15 percent to my body weight. By the end of May, I was the heaviest I’ve been in my whole life. I’ve spent the time since working to fix the problems that led to that weight gain, and while this may not sound like poker advice, it is.

When I’m in good shape physically, I’m a better poker player. I have more energy to focus on the game for longer periods of time and I find that I handle the emotional swings better as well. I started paying more attention to what I eat and riding my bike a few times a week. Getting into better physical shape is not always an easy fix, and might not be helpful for everyone, but I know it helps me.

I also want to regulate my emotions while playing poker. One thing I’ve realized about myself over this time in my house since last March is that my days go much better when I’ve gotten enough sleep. The nights that I stay up late playing video games or wasting time on the internet lead to days where I have much less patience with my family. I know that will translate to similar feelings at the table if I’m not getting enough sleep the night before a session of poker.

I’m not sure when live poker will be available again here in Southern California where I live. And I’m also not sure when it will be available where you live, if it’s not already. When it does become available, I hope to be mentally and physically prepared to return to playing while following my local health and safety guidelines, and I hope you do too. ♠

Gavin GriffinGavin Griffin was the first poker player to capture a World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour title and has amassed nearly $5 million in lifetime tournament winnings. Griffin is sponsored by HeroPoker.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NHGG