7 Keys to Avoiding Poker Burnout

Man Holding Hands to His Eyes and Poker Hand On Right

In my life as a casino gambler and poker player, there have been several stretches where my love for the game has vanished. Not only did I stop enjoying my time at the poker tables, but I began to resent the game as a whole.

After a lot of reflection, it seems I had become burnt out. The hours I had spent in the poker room no longer gave me the satisfaction I once enjoyed.

This total disdain for poker could have catastrophic consequences. Fortunately, I was not playing poker as a full-time source of financial security.

Otherwise, I may have been forced to grind through until it passed, or I went bankrupt. The problem is that the harder you try to turn into the burnout, the more it intensifies.

As you become increasingly frustrated, your game begins to slip, and the competition quickly outpaces you. However, there are ways to keep your mind and body relaxed and happy at the poker tables.

Use these 7 keys to avoiding poker burnout, and you’ll be in far less danger of growing weary of your favorite pastime.

1 – Learn to Recognize the Warning Signs

The most vital step in avoiding burnout is recognizing what burnout is and what it looks like. The sooner you see burnout coming, the better your chances of getting out ahead of the problem.

Burnout may manifest itself in several ways. One of the most apparent signs of burnout is mental or physical exhaustion.

Exhaustion will leave you constantly feeling void of any positive energy. It’s the type of thing that spells disaster for poker players.

Burnout might rear its head is through a severe decline in the joy or feelings of accomplishment that typically come from a great session or tournament finish. I’ve experienced this in my other passion of golf reasonably recently.

I played in a fairly large tournament, and I spent months preparing to compete. After the first round, I was tied for the lead despite playing poorly.

During the second round, I had several incredible shots coming down the stretch, which gave me the lead, but I got no real joy out of them. I merely wanted the entire ordeal to be over, so I could go home.

I won, accepted my trophy, and drove home without ever cracking a smile. I was burnt out.

Watch out for the signs of burnout, and you’ll have time to properly assess your situation before it becomes dire.

Watch out for things like fatigue, self-doubt, decreased motivation, procrastination, helplessness, and isolation. In addition, you may find yourself taking out your frustration on others.

If you find yourself dreading your next poker session, align yourself to be able to step away. Even if you’re only able to take a short break, it could do wonders for your mental state.

2 – Have Outside Interests

Having interests outside of the poker room can prove immensely valuable in the fight against burnout. I’ll even go a step further and suggest you find interests outside of the casino.

You shouldn’t take a break from Texas Hold’Em at the Pot Limit Omaha table and wonder why you’re getting burnt out. Try to make the hobby as different from poker as possible.

I prefer to have hobbies where there’s no money involved, with the occasional exception of golf. The problem is that if you’re constantly chasing money, that in and of itself may become prone to burnout.

golf course at Inn of the Mountain Gods in New Mexico

One fantastic way to contrast the fast-paced nature of poker is to get outside and enjoy nature. Kayaking, fishing, archery, cycling, and golf are all relaxing hobbies that will burn up plenty of time.

If you’re not much for the outdoors, consider reading, playing board games, picking up an instrument, or playing video games. Chess is an excellent hobby for poker enthusiasts because it incorporates so much skill.

Finding outside interests is a primary way to avoid poker burnout. The time required to discover your new passion will help ease the burden you’re feeling in the poker rooms.

3 – Make a Diverse Circle of Friends

The people you associate with away from the game can have a tremendous impact on burnout. As humans, we can’t help but congregate and align ourselves with like-minded people.

That means if you’re an avid poker player, many of your friends may also be avid poker players. So, when you meet up or chat over the phone, poker is likely the primary topic of conversation.

That means that you’re constantly focused on poker while you’re playing, and most of your interpersonal relationships are also revolving around poker. It’s easy to see why you may become exhausted with the game.

I’m not suggesting you write your poker friends off, only that you have friends with interests that don’t involve poker. When you’re constantly immersed in poker, things can become stale rather quickly.

Having a diverse circle of friends keeps you open to other topics and ideas. As a bonus, you can regale them with your stories from the poker room; in moderation.

4 – Complete Periodic Assessments

Taking stock of your mental and physical well-being is something that should be done with regularity. As that relates to your poker game, you’ll be able to stay sharp and avoid burnout.

It’s an intelligent plan to set time aside as often as necessary to review your poker game. That includes your performance, ambitions, areas of improvement, and the amount of enjoyment you’re receiving from the competition.

Any good business will perform regular inventories and evaluations to ensure things are running at peak efficiency. It’s critical that we do the same on a personal level.

Several years ago, I was feeling burnt out at the poker tables. My performance was slipping, and I was merely going through the motions.

Two People Sitting Playing Poker

I was at my wit’s end when a poker mento asked me about the dip. I confidently stated that I had no idea. How was I supposed to know?

When he finished laughing, he suggested I write a few things down and get back to him. As I read my list, it began to leap off the page at me.

I noticed a decline in my performance and played twice as much poker to make up for the deficit. The more I played, the larger my frustration grew.

What I needed was a break to focus on improvement and clearing my head of the negativity. In a short time, I was back on track.

I’ve continued taking time for personal reflection, and it has been instrumental in keeping burnout at bay.

5 – Budget Your Time Effectively

One of the best methods for ensuring that you’re not playing too much poker is by making a comprehensive schedule.

By effectively laying out your days, you prevent yourself from playing out of boredom. Poker can become a serious grind, and when you play every day, there’s a toll.

Not only will you be leaving money in the pot, but you could also become spent. When you set a schedule, you’re less likely to play too much.

The caveat is that you must adhere to your schedule. So, if you’re set up to only play on certain days, you can’t cheat.

That’s the exact type of behavior that leads to burnout. Make sure that you have a solid balance of work/play/life in your routine, and you’ll see the best results.

Sometimes you’ll have marathon poker sessions; that’s part of the game. Still, when you schedule them almost every day, problems can arise.

6 – Stay in Peak Mental/Physical Shape

Frequently, poker burnout boils down to pure exhaustion. This exhaustion may manifest itself in different ways but comes down to being physical, mental, or emotional.

You can keep ahead of this by staying in the best shape possible. This most notably includes your diet, exercise, and sleep.

It shouldn’t be hard to see why not getting the proper amount of sleep is detrimental. Budget enough sleep into your daily schedule to avoid being tired by early evening. Seven to eight hours ought to do the trick, and you’ll have plenty of energy for the end of the day.

Man Carving a Roast Ham

The fuel you put in your body plays a significant role in the energy level you get in return. Plan out a well-balanced diet for sustained energy instead of loading up on sugary foods that lead to crashing.

Finally, hit the gym or go for a walk. Do whatever you can to be as physically fit as possible.

Being in peak physical condition will provide you with the stamina needed for long poker sessions.

7 – Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Above all, remember to have fun at the casino. Regardless of your current motivations, we all started playing poker because the game is inherently a blast.

When you keep things light, you’re in the best position to get the most entertainment from your investment. Poker can be a lifelong passion, but it’s essential to keep having fun along the way.

Do that every time you sit down, and you won’t need to worry about burnout.

In Summary

The 7 keys to avoiding poker burnout are as straightforward as they come. Spend time taking care of yourself, engage in other activities, budget your time efficiently, and always focus on having fun.

Accomplish these primary objectives, and you’re in much less danger of facing the dreaded burnout.