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Poker Mental Game & Planning

Coronavirus Lockdown Poker Strategies Part Two: Dealing with Stress, Inactivity, and Isolation

3,691 Views on 10/4/20

Let’s take a look at some suggestions for keeping in decent physical and mental shape while the coronavirus pandemic situation is brought under control

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As the coronavirus lockdown continues, people are steadily becoming more and more stressed with the situation. 

Even on trips out of the house to places such as the supermarket there is only more stress to be found. Panic buying has made many of life’s most basic necessities difficult to get a hold of.

Poker players should always be working on keeping their mental shape in tip top condition, but now with additional stress, inactivity, and isolation to battle it’s doubly important to be working hard on this.

Let’s take a look at some suggestions for keeping in decent physical and mental shape while the coronavirus pandemic situation is brought under control. Not only will you feel great if you work on all of these areas, you will also be in great shape to play poker during the lockdown.

Basic Cardio

One of the first things that will suffer during a lockdown is your cardiovascular fitness. Inactivity will cause your body to change in many different ways.

Inactivity is considered such a serious health risk that it is comparable to smoking cigarettes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. In other words, this is the first thing you need to take control of during a lockdown.

As well as your heart weakening from a lack of regular exertion, an often overlooked part of regular aerobic exercise is that it reduces stress levels. Stress hormones such as cortisol are kept in check within normal parameters.

Ideally, you should take advantage of a 30-60 minute window to get outside and take a walk in as isolated conditions as possible. Unfortunately, given the wide variation of lockdown regulations, this might not be possible for many of you.

In this case, it is essential that you find ways to move around within your home. This can take many different forms from spring cleaning a room to gardening. Just think about keeping your step count per day as high as possible.

For the more adventurous, there are plenty of higher intensity cardio routines needing minimal to no equipment on YouTube.

Resistance Exercise

While not as essential as keeping your heart active, resistance exercise still goes a long way to keeping stress levels down and making you feel relaxed. 

Unless you have a fully-kitted home gym, there is no need to be thinking about going as intense as possible. With the lockdown having an effect on supermarket supply lines, it is unlikely that you will be able to keep to a completely nailed down diet for the time being anyway.

For now, just keep up a daily/two day routine using bodyweight exercises or dumbells.

This is enough to stave off the effects of inactivity and also provides another solid outlet for any built up physical and mental stress.


After decades since meditation worked its way into western culture, it is only since the turn of the millenium that it has really been accepted as a normal thing for us to do.

For too long we have ignored the benefits of what is an incredibly simple exercise to do. During this lockdown it is now more important than ever to keep as happy as possible to avoid conflict with your family who will also be under stress.

A good starting point for this activity is the HeadSpace program. It’s cheap and provides a great introduction.

Breathing Exercises

Just as with meditation, breathing exercises are becoming more mainstream. The biggest point that all methods have in common is to learn to move the diaphragm

Nasal breathing is proven to make this easier and also taps into your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping you to relax.

Breathing exercises are a great tool for combatting stress during this lockdown, and will also help you to keep tilt away during your playing sessions.

Yoga/Tai Chi

Yoga and tai chi have been around western countries for quite a while but never really caught on for the reason they were developed thousands of years ago.

For those of you who already do a bit of meditation and feel like you need a de-stress top up before you start to explode then either of these two disciplines are well worth checking out.

They are also both great for slotting into the middle of your playing sessions online when you’ve been at it all day.

Sleep Health

Sleep health is often overlooked in modern society. All too often we climb into bed without spending a little time to relax and wake up the following morning wondering if we slept at all.

There is tons to look at in this niche and any improvements you pick up will be a great help for your poker mindset

There simply isn’t any better feeling than waking up fully refreshed and ready to attack the day. There also is any worse feeling than trying to grind out your daily volume and feeling half asleep.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More


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