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How to Relax Prior to a Big Poker Game
In order to succeed in poker, you need to be able to face down your opponent with confidence. You need to be able to conceal the excitement of an excellent hand and sell the inflated value of a worthless one. Whatever the situation calls for, you will be much better to play the part you need if you are as relaxed as possible. But with a high-stakes, intense game such as poker, how exactly do you stay relaxed?
There isn’t one answer to this question as everyone is different and you will need to develop your own techniques and understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, but there are a number of general techniques which you can try. Note which ones work for you and combine them into your own personalized routine.
Focus on Breathing
Meditation and mindfulness are both very useful for a range of mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. Contrary to popular belief, the goal of meditation and mindfulness is not to breathe as deeply as possible (although some people will find this makes it easier), rather the goal is to remain mindful and aware of your natural breathing.
Everyone has different triggers for their anxiety. Before a big poker game, try and get to the bottom of exactly what stresses you out. Sitting at the table to play poker probably isn’t stressful. But the thought of putting your money on the line might be. Work out what your triggers are and then find a way to work out a coping strategy for them.
This is one of the most effective ways of avoiding anxiety. Anxiety is self-perpetuating; this means that it feeds into itself and so quickly spirals out of control. When you have a triggering thought that causes anxiety then it stays on your mind. Often it is hard to think about anything else, but you might be able to take your mind away for a moment or two, although often the thoughts quickly return.
With practice you can get better at altering your thought patterns as you need in order to address this, but physically distracting your brain is often a more effective tactic. Again, this will be a case of trying different things and finding what works for you. Some people find that putting music on is enough and they can get lost in the sounds. Other people like to get their phones out and find a good distraction website such as reddit or RageMaker.net.
Get Enough Sleep
A lack of sleep has been linked in a number of studies to increased rates of anxiety and depression. Being tired also causes people to respond more poorly to stress as it arises and they are more susceptible to its effects and find it harder to process them. Make sure that you get as much sleep as you can before any big poker game as you want to be sharp and alert so that you can outsmart your opponents.
Relaxing prior to a big poker game is one of the most effective things you can do to improve your performance. The more relaxed you are, the more easily you will be able to bluff and analyze and outwit your opponents.