Starting out as a poker player it is easy to become very involved in the game, especially when you start to win. Constantly earning money is addictive, something I would define as completely different from gambling addiction. Any time you are away from the table can lead to thoughts of losing the positive expected value associated with playing poker. This kind of poker obsession can be a big thing at first, allowing you to learn the game and work up a bankroll fast enough. In the long run though, it can be fraught with problems.
When you start to experience the inevitable downswings and bad beats of , your heavy involvement in the game can become a problem. Your instincts won’t allow you to leave in a situation where you’ve become steamed and could use some time away from the game. So instead of walking away when you’re down three or four buy-ins for the day, you stay at the table because you don’t have anything else to do with your time, or you’re obsessed with winning. Inevitably, you keep losing because you’re not in the right mental space, your opponent is outplaying you or getting lucky and it just wasn’t your day.
Taking a break from poker is important when you’re in a rut, but if you don’t have a balanced approach to your life, there’s a good chance that you don’t have many other interests outside of poker. Players who have a good balance between poker and their lives will immerse themselves in their family, business, physical fitness, reading or anything that moves them or allows them to relax away from the table. Their emotional well-being, while affected slightly by how they perform at poker, is not very entrenched in their poker advantage. If they are doing badly at poker, they have a lot of other things going on in their day to day activities that they don’t have time to think about.
Even if you are good at playing through losing streaks and you feel like you can play poker all the time without a problem, this kind of lifestyle will catch up with you. Whether it’s your physical or mental health, something that will deliver in the long run. Spending hours, 300+ days a year playing poker will take it’s toll on your physical fitness in all that time sitting and living a very active lifestyle. You’d be surprised how much getting off the table, giving up some poker time and going for a short daily jog can help you out, both at the poker table and away from it. Physical health aside, the game of poker will wear you down mentally like no other. Even if you can stay together in the worst of times,
Poker is a big game, there’s no doubt about it, but life is big and has so much to offer. So before you next sit down at the poker table, consider how long you will be playing and whether or not your poker playing is in balance with other activities in your life. Do you really want to wake up in ten years time and realize you wasted the best years of your life playing poker, when you could have experienced so much if you would have played just a little less everyday?