Few players survive poker’s mental, physical and emotional war of attrition. Even if your knowledge is solid, you need the strength of character to perform consistently to make a good living at poker. Most good players perform well for a short period, but become “flashes in the pan.”
Why?…. Because they can’t handle poker’s physical, emotional and mental stresses.
Many pros and semi-pros are run down, sleep-deprived, unexercised, overworked, overstressed, and deteriorating physically and mentally. That deterioration persists until the completely player burns out and loses some of his poker abilities. That deterioration often starts a downward spiral: you start playing longer hours in less profitable situations to make up for the shortfall. It can be never-ending!
As a player, you need to guard against burnout. If you wait until it develops, you’ve waited too long. Take the steps to keep your mind and body healthy. Don’t burn yourself out playing immense hours trying to get even or because the game is good.
Even if the game is great, is it really worth grinding out the extra hour or two and exhausting yourself? Think what your HR is? Is it worth it? Relax and take it easy, you’ll improve your propensity to survive the “test of time.” When you push yourself too hard, your mental energy and concentration are so weak that your expectation is far below usual.
To avoid burnout, don’t push yourself. Know your limitations. Don’t play too long or too high. Avoid high-stress situations. Don’t stretch your comfort zone too strongly. Take your beats without emotion. Try to get as much enjoyment from the game as you can. Take breaks, walk around and have an exercise program to reduce the toll of the hours of sitting. Maintain good sleep habits. Have a personal life and separate it from your poker life.
Poker has a high cost of success, but if you do it right, a successful poker life a can be a happy one. To me, the most important issue at the end of your life is to be able to look back at a happy one. Many professional players, even the very successful ones, are cynical, dispirited and unhappy.
Don’t let yourself fall into the poker world’s traps period! Play the much more important game of life the right way!
Play Well and Good Luck!