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How To Stay Sane Playing Long Sessions For Days On End

by Alex Fitzgerald |  Published: Oct 18, 2023


Alex Fitzgerald credit: PokerGO Get a Free Training Package at

I recently got back from a trip to Vegas where I played a number of live tournaments. During this work trip, I played poker every single day. At one point I played 14 hours, slept seven hours, and then played another 12 after I woke up.

I was able to make a profit on the trip, so it was a success. I ran decent, but not incredible. Most of what kept me in the game was avoiding shooting myself in the foot, which got harder and harder to do as the sessions dragged on.

It’s very hard to play poker for days on end without making a serious blunder. But there are specific tactics that can help you keep your mistakes small.


It’s easy to get dehydrated playing poker for hours on end. If you’re constantly drinking coffee, that will exacerbate matters.

If you can get some of those electrolyte solution packets, you will be in much better shape. Grab a water and mix one of those packets in. Chug it on a break. You will feel much better.

Your Offense Has To Travel

Many people show up to a poker tournament wanting to play for hours. They’ve travelled extensively. They’ve put down some serious money. They want to get some value for their investment. They don’t want to bust early.

For these reasons, these players are tentative when the tournament starts. They don’t attack from the jump. This bites them in the ass.

All the loose recreational players are still in the tournament at the beginning. They get busted quickly after that. The easiest money can be made at the beginning of the tournament.

Attacking weak players early can set you up for later. It takes much more energy to grind cautiously for hours and hours, which eventually leads to constant folding with a short stack. If you instead attack from the jump, you’ll have more fun and conserve energy through a good attitude.

Fundamentals Travel Well

If you’re constantly racking your brain for an answer, you will get tired fast.
You should study poker at home to conserve energy on the road. If you prepare for hundreds of common spots and flops, nothing will surprise you and drain you emotionally.

Studying should be difficult. Playing poker should be fun.

Watch For Erratic Three-Bets

When you’re tired it’s easy to reraise people for the hell of it. Watch yourself. This is how huge tournament bust outs are created.

Most loose reraises should come from the cutoff and button where you have the advantage of position. Liberal reraise bluffs from the blinds or earlier positions should only be executed versus weak opposition.

If you don’t have a fantastic reason to three-bet from early position or out of position, just go ahead and fold.

Watch For Erratic Call Downs

One of the fastest ways to end your tournament is to call down three streets without a good reason.

Ask yourself if your opponent would have value bet anything worse. Ask yourself if your opponent would have fired with their missed draws. If you find yourself grasping at straws, then just fold. Everyone gets bluffed on occasion.

Most people don’t bluff enough to deserve your thin call downs. You don’t need to try and hit a trick pitch no one ever throws.

Calling off your tournament for no good reason is a great way to ruin your energy levels. The bad call will haunt you for days on end. It will impact how good you feel playing in subsequent days.

Watch For Erratic Preflop Raises

At the beginning of a session, it’s easy to be disciplined about what you’re opening.
As the hours tick by, it can become easier to open speculative hands for no reason.

If there are short stacks behind you, be careful about opening mediocre hands. You will get shoved on a lot. You won’t even get to see the flop a large percentage of the time.

If you just lost a huge pot, be careful about what you open in the next few hands. Opening a weak hand and getting caught up in a huge pot is a terrific way to end your tournament. The frustration of knowing you tilted off your chips will impact you for days to come.

Watch For Erratic Cold Calls

Again, at the beginning of our session it is easy to be disciplined. We can fold to raises from early position if we are not getting proper implied odds. We can fold to early position raises when we are also in early position, and it is likely someone behind us will squeeze.

Once we are tilted or tired, it’s tempting to start seeing flops with anything. We just want to hit something so we can get more chips!

If you find yourself not able to fold anything halfway playable to a raise, stop yourself. You’re gambling when it isn’t necessary. You’re going to get caught in a big pot with a mediocre hand and lose your ass. This will piss you off for days to come.

What Are You Paying Attention To?

When the session starts, you’re well rested. You’re on your best behavior. You’re paying attention to the other players. You’re looking for live tells. You’re watching the action. You’re judging the play styles of your opponents.

You will know you’re fatigued when you stop paying attention to all of this.

When a poker player is fatigued, he or she will count their chips constantly. They’ll be focused on the chips they once had or the chips they could have had.

When a poker player is tilted, they will start watching the flops more intently.
They’ll be focused on what they could have flopped or should have flopped.

When a poker player is exhausted, they’ll focus on how lucky other players are getting. They’ll even make comments about it.

If you find yourself exhibiting any of these dejected behaviors, then catch yourself right there. Stand up. Chug a water. Shake it off. Stretch. Wake up. Get another cup of coffee. Do something. Don’t let the game get away from you!

Anyone can play well when cards are coming their way, but real pros can focus when everything is going to hell. ♠

Learn how to play A-K when it misses the flop!

Alexander Fitzgerald is a professional poker player and bestselling author who currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a WPT and EPT final tablist, and has WCOOP and SCOOP wins online. His most recent win was the $250,000 Guaranteed on ACR Poker. He currently enjoys blasting bums away in Ignition tournaments while he listens to death metal. Free training packages of his are provided to new newsletter subscribers who sign up at