Wake Up to Play Poker

Several days ago I was describing to my friend a routine that I go through almost every working day and which works very well for me. And I decided to write a post about this. It took many words, but in reality all this lasts 30-40 minutes at maximum, especially if you do it several days in a row and get used to it. This make my mind and my body to wake up completely and make sure I am ready for some serious work. 

  • 1. Wake Up 5am. My mind is very clear in early mornings and games are quite sweet this time too.  I sleep 7 hours and usually wake up 3-5 minutes before the alarm clock,

The first thing I do is:

– Remembering Why I wake up today?
To do something good and useful. To improve myself. To make myself  and other people more happy.

Something positive enough to bring a meaning, inspire and make you smile.

  • 2. Wash up myself.  Clean up the room, my working place, etc. If there is an order everywhere, there is an order in your head too. And its just a bit lazy sometimes to do the morning exercise straight away. Sometimes I check e-mail, Facebook just to make sure there is nothing new in there, same pictures, same people and same 80% of spam messages.

***Update. I now also do a 30 mins meditation session every single morning, regardless if I play today or not.  

  • 3. Do the morning exercise, its highly desirable to start sweating. I do Ashtanga yoga or  just general set of stretches, push-ups, sit ups, etc. If there is a swimming pool around, I swim. This should take at least 15 minutes. I need to start breathing deeply and freely, as sometimes my nose is blocked in the morning.

During this warm up I try to think ONLY about warm up. Like:
“this is my hand, touching the ground. This is my breath, I am inhaling now. My knee still hurts a bit, probably after that basketball game”.
I think only about NOW, not yesterday, not in another city… But Here and Now. By doing this I prepare my mind, restraining it from random thoughts, stopping it from wandering away at every favorable moment, and instead make it do what I want it to do, namely make good poker decisions.

Often thoughts completely unrelated to what I am doing at this moment would come into my mind:

“I am going to Australia next month, where will I stay?”
Fk this, I’ll sort this out just before or when I come there.
Now I am lifting up my left leg…

“My Girlfriend is gonna have a birthday next week, what should I buy her for present?”
Ok. I’ll put this task into my daily planner (using Simpleology ) and will think about this later. Now I am making a deep, deep breath…

  • 4. Shower with cold water and breakfast. I eat cereals with fruits, salads, soy milk or juice, scoop of protein. I never eat something fried, like eggs or bacon or any bread like toasts or cookies – this makes me lazy and sleepy, and it’s just an unhealthy food overall.

During the shower and breakfast I keep thinking about here and now.

“ehhm.. This water is cold. Goosebumps on my skin. The pineapple is sweet and tasty.”

Some unwanted thoughts would keep coming into my mind:

“It’s friday. How should I entertain myself today?”
I’ll think about this after I finish my work, It’s not something urgent. Now I am chewing my pineapple and enjoying the taste.

“What if result of my today’s session will be negative like yesterday?”
Doesn’t matter. I am aware of variance, and If I make any mistakes I will review them later and discuss with my poker friends. Now I gonna play with huge edge against fish. And more often my sessions are positive than negative.

Or even better just to leave them Unanswered and ignore.

  • 5. Ready to go. If I still have some thoughts running in my head, I write them down to a notepad or online, I use  http://simpleology.com/.
  • 6. I open my Poker Warm Up, check if there are some newly discovered leaks to be added to my warming up routine (though I usually do this afterwards, during my session review).

Start Warm UP and attentively go through all the steps completing it like it’s the most important checklist of my day:

a) My Poker Goals. I remember why I play, except for the play itself. Besides money, what else gives me her majesty Poker? If I have some new Goals to add, I quickly check it is a SMART goal
b) My Technical leaks. To become better these must be eliminated. And to eliminate I need to constantly be aware and work on my weaknesses.
c) Mind leaks. To evaluate results of my play, I use not only monetary measures but how I coped with various forms of tilt too. Recognizing signs of upcoming  tilt is the most important thing I took from Jared Tendler’s  Mental Game of Poker.
d) Distracting factors. Yeah, I can play 3 tables HU and discuss plans for the evening with my friend on the phone. But can I be sure that the quality of my decisions during this time is the best? Not at all, rather opposite.
e) Check my Concentration. Several days a month I would delay or even skip playing poker just because I don’t feel like playing. I had enough cases in my experience when I ignored this strong feeling and had a very bad session that day, including 10 hours non-stop play, broken mouses and keyboards, chairs flying across the room and screams like “I knew I shouldn’t play today”. So I learned it hard way. Most probably this is caused, as  Jared Tendler defined, by accumulated emotions tilt. 

  • 7. And the last step, as Poker Warm Up suggests I set up the  Poker session Timer for 1,5 or 2 hours with strong intention to have a brake or finish the session when the Timer tells me do so.
  • 8.  Only after this is done, I start opening tables…

Good luck at the tables!

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