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Health, Poker, and Muay Thai

by Roy Winston |  Published: Oct 27, '10


From time to time I have talked about the negative effect of playing poker on your health. These include the sedentary time you are playing, long hours with irregular sleep, poor food choices in casinos and the availability of junk food and alcohol, as well as smoke. Don’t get me wrong there are positives, particularly when it comes to mental acuity there are certainly potential gains, but as far as physical staying in physical shape, poker is not high on the list of activities.

As I have mentioned before one of the things that gave me more time to play poker when I first started was a knee and shoulder injury which kept me from working out. It has now taken me the better part of two years to get back into what I would call reasonable athletic shape.

As a physician and health care professional here is my advice, and I begin with the usual disclaimer that you should check with your doctor before beginning any program. Okay so the cornerstone of any health program is nutrition. You can spend two hours a day on the treadmill or elliptical machiine, but if you are eating ice cream, big macs, or cake as your principle nutritional source, you are doomed to fail. That’s not to say that the occasional desert or fast food trip is completely out of bounds, just that it can’t be the routine. The typical balanced diet that is careful with fat and carbs, especially simple sugars and is high in green vegetables and the like, it’s mostly the common sense stuff that your grandmother told you.

Just like you need to be disciplined in your poker play to be a winning player, you must do the same in your nutritional habits. Portion control is also one of the biggest items many overlook. Now all this having been said, I love to eat. For me a steak house having surf and turf is high on my list and I still do it, just not as often as I use to. When spending time in casino’s it’s easy to hit the restaurants and make poor nutritional choices. Hey, I admit it, when a friend comes up to me at the table at The Bellagio and says, “let’s grab a steak at Prime” I am always good to go. It takes discipline and self control, just like poker. I guess you can go on tilt and eat a half gallon of ice cream or whole chocolate cake, but you won’t feel great later on.

The other major change I have made is to ramp up my working out to about as much as I am capable of. I am now averaging 2-3 hours per day, 5-6 days per week. Quite frankly that’s about all that I got, like Scottie said in Star Trek: “Captain, I’m giving you all that I can.” Most likely I will not be able to sustain this level for too long, but for now I am enjoying it.

My current regimen, which I do rotate to help improve results and avoid hitting a plateau, consists of two days a week of weight training for strength, that is low reps with heavy weights (heavy for me that is). Two days a week with kettlebell’s where aerobic endurance is a large part of the routine. 3-4 days a week of running and what I really am enjoying most, Muay Thai kickboxing.

I really lucked into what has to be the best martial arts center/ gym in New York City, Five Points Academy on Canal Street. I did a training session with one of the coaches there who is an amateur Muay Thai fighter. So I started taking the classes on a regular basis, as a matter of fact I was taking one or two a day, six days a week. The workouts are really intense and are very satisfying from a visceral standpoint. I really wish I started the Muay Thai when I was younger, but I guess there’s no going back. If you live in the NY City area I highly recommend it, here is a link:
My daily routine now is: workout, followed by playing poker online, which I have to admit, is pretty good. That coupled with some intermittent travel to play charity and live events keeps me busy.

Roy Winston finished 16th in 2007 Card Player, Player of the Year race. He won the WPT Borgata Poker Open and finished the year with well over $2 million in tournament poker winnings. Roy plays online exclusively at Full Tilt. For more information on Roy Winston, you can visit his website: or send an email to: with your questions or comments. The contents presented herein on this blog are purely the opinions of Roy Winston, and are not intended to reflect or promote the opinions of any other person, group, or entity. If you like what I write than thanks for reading, and if not well, thanks anyway.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of


11 years ago

bmpek, you obviously haven't seen Roy lately, the dudes in ridiculous shape. I saw him at borgata a few weeks ago and I would love to watch him give Danny boy a beat down.


11 years ago

Iam not a betting man but iam willing to put my life savings of 147 dollars on roy.


11 years ago

Hey bmpek, I think the biggest laugh show of all time is your spelling! YOU DONKEY!!!

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