How Meditation and Stress Management Can Help Pro Poker Players

There are millions of poker players in the world, and while most of them are amateur, there are thought to be around 50,000 players who have competed in professional tournaments either online or in person. Tens of thousands of people may have a legitimate claim to being “poker professionals” and not just saying so to sound cool in a bar.

Poker and other gambling games should be enjoyable; they need to be played for fun, and you shouldn’t get stressed out by them, especially if you’re playing as a way to chill after work or at the weekends. That said, being able to manage your stress and emotions can help with being a better poker pro and getting to a higher standard of the game. The high rollers at your local casino may already know how to unlock the benefits of meditating or managing their stresses. Pro players like Daniel Negreanu have also been vocal about their love of meditation.

Keeping a Clear Head to Focus on Strategy

The top poker players may have new ideas and interesting, fresh approaches to the game. Watch a few poker tournaments, and you’ll see loads of different personalities, from quiet poker players to loud trash-talkers. There are aggressive players and chilled players. Ultimately, there are a lot of different poker strategies to help players, and it is down to each poker pro to find what works for them.

Meditation techniques can vary, and some pros might find that breathing exercises are helpful, some even have a mantra in their head that they may repeat or think about. One of the main benefits of this is to stay present in the moment, not letting things that happened earlier, like a parking ticket or frustrating news, get in the way.

With any sport or game like poker, decision-making is crucial. Meditation and stress management can help with this. There have even been studies on the subject. According to the National Library of Medicine, “meditation may enhance decision-making through the regulation of negative/positive emotions.”

Most of us know that when we have unprocessed emotions and things on our minds, we may make worse decisions, and in a game that relies heavily on strategy, this is less than perfect. Nobody wants to make their own bad luck in the game of poker, and poor decisions can do exactly that.

Not Making Emotional Decisions

Conquering emotions is something that we all need to try and master in life. Some people struggle with anger problems or may have reactions that cloud their judgment. Most of us have experienced this first-hand, getting annoyed or frustrated and doing something silly or out of character.

Meditation helps with stress management and also helps to deal with emotions. When you meet somebody who meditates, then you may get a certain vibe from them. Usually, they come across as very calm, or even stoic. Crucially, people who have mastered meditating or usually in control of their emotions. Of course, everyone has to deal with ups and downs and things that are out of their control. Nobody is immune to the frustrations of life, but meditation can help people deal with things in a more calm and measured way. In poker, this may make the difference between making a bad bluffing decision or keeping your cool to manage your bankroll properly.

How to Meditate to Deal With Stress

We know that meditation has a lot of different positive impacts, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy. This isn’t the sort of thing that you can suddenly decide you are going to do and be good at it in minutes. Meditation can take years to master.

A lot of people find it get meditation right, and understand what should be happening in their brain. It is easy for the mind to wander, and before you know it, you are thinking about your shopping list or something you are anxious about. What should you be thinking about while meditating? For some, a mantra is helpful, but others use things like visualization techniques or even breathing exercises.

Guided meditation can be a big help. Apps like Headspace have become very popular because they guide people through the process. You can’t really use Headspace at the same time as playing poker, but it can be a great app for helping to guide you through the process a few times and getting better at meditation and being in the moment. When the moment comes, and you’re sitting around the table playing poker (virtually or in real life), then you can meditate effectively.


Which strategy are you going to take when it comes to poker? Well, it is crucial to find a style and strategy that works for you, but it is also crucial that you have the wherewithal to implement your strategy properly. Meditation can be an effective tool, with many pro poker players advocating its use. Plus, it can benefit other areas of life. What’s not to like?

Featured Photo by Matteo Di Iorio on Unsplash