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The Importance of Working Out for Poker Players

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People work out for all kinds of reasons; some do it to build a body to be proud of, and others do it to lose weight and get a shape they’re not ashamed of.

Some do it to relieve stress and anger, others because it is relaxing and therapeutic. Some might work out because of their job; it could be physically demanding and need a good level of core strength. One job it might not seem essential to be in good shape for is that of a professional poker player, but they’re embracing fitness to help them improve.

Not all players do it, but professionals such as Daniel Negreanu regularly speak about the need for fitness in poker. That’s leading amateur players, or those at a lower level, to seek to improve their skills by being physically fit. While this article is pointed toward poker, there are lessons to be learned for anyone who is sedentary for long periods; perhaps working from home or performing a driving job. How do they, and a game that requires you to sit for prolonged periods, put demands on your body, and how can you get better simply by working out?

The Demands of Poker

Poker is a game that requires you to be seated, but it also demands a lot from players. You have to be constantly alert to your own cards and strategy and those around the table. You have to control your emotions and your tells; that means considering what your body is doing at all times. It doesn’t sound demanding, but think about performing wall sits; they’re tough, right? You’re not moving, but you are holding a position, and whilst poker isn’t that demanding, the principles are the same.

Physical Exercise

How can physical exercise help you be better at poker? The first answer is pure longevity. Being in a single position for hours is challenging, and it will place demands on your body. If you are unfit and out of shape, it can be challenging to rise to those demands without suffering in other areas, lacking concentration perhaps, or becoming fatigued. If you work out for an hour or so a day, you’re more likely to fight fatigue and keep your head in the game. The sharper you are physical, the longer you can concentrate and therefore be better at poker.

It’s also proven that physical activity boosts brain metabolism, increasing the efficiency of lactose and glucose. It does so in rats, monkeys, and humans. If you’re active, your brain works better. That’s not just for the duration; you’re not smarter whilst pushing weights and dumber when sitting down; it’s a longer-term effect that poker players can benefit from. A lot of medical evidence suggests a workout an hour before a poker game could give you the intellectual edge to beat your opponent.


You don’t need a sculpted body for poker, but working out isn’t only about muscles and weights. Working out is a state of mind; it’s disciplined and regulated, and it’s a way of keeping yourself in good shape. The body is like a vehicle; it responds to the fuel you put inside it, and it works better if you look after it. Therefore, a poker player who chooses to ignore their body, or omit to work out and stay in shape, could become a busted flush quicker than those who put the hours in the gym.

Who would have thought there was a direct correlation between successful poker players and working out?

If you enjoyed this article, you might also benefit from our recent piece on staying fit whilst you’re not working out.