Whether you’re a fan of my books or a reader of my blog posts, there is something you probably don’t know about me. I’m a fitness freak. There is a point to me telling you this, so please bear with me.
I hit the gym almost every day, and I try to run six miles at least three times per week. I also wake up and do a set of push-ups every morning. This immediately takes your body from catabolic to anabolic.
I need to be this way because I eat good AND not good. I have a sweet tooth, which is the enemy of abs because the real way to add fat is by consuming sugar, not fat. Anyway, my dilemma relates to poker.
This subheading is the biggest oxymoron I have ever typed. When I play poker, I sit in a chair all day, sometimes for several days straight if it’s a tournament or if I’m on a poker trip. My only real exercise is getting up to use the restroom or going to eat. If I’m going to eat, then I’m adding calories without burning them. At the same time, I need those calories. I lose weight after most poker trips. That’s because my body has nothing to burn so it’s burning muscle. Not good! This leads to me spending at least a week in the gym just to get back to where I was prior to the poker trip. By the way, when I refer to the gym and working out, please understand that I’m not a big guy. I’m 169 pounds. I focus on lean muscle, not bulk. I just want to do my best to stay in shape.
My most frequent WSOP stop is Harrah’s Cherokee. The WSOP Circuit stops there three times per year. I used to stay at a place in Sylva, which is 15 minutes from Harrah’s Cherokee. Some people couldn’t believe I would stay that far away, but the Comfort Inn & Suites there is nice and clean. It also has a fitness center, which allowed me to workout prior to playing. This was ideal. But it was only a good place to stay during the week. When I stayed there on the weekend, something terrible began happening at about 6 a.m. I would hear WHAP! I’d fall back asleep, but a few minutes later WHAP! Then the WHAP!s would be closer together as it neared 7 a.m. So, I was lacking sleep and didn’t have the energy to work out. To add to my misery, I didn’t have enough sleep to play good poker.
I switched my hotel to a location closer to Harrah’s Cherokee. It’s clean, convenient, and much quieter in the mornings. The only problem is that there’s no fitness center. My only realistic option has been to do push-ups, triceps dips, sit-ups, and jumping jacks in my room. This is better than nothing, but it still doesn’t compare to pumping iron and some decent cardio. I could go for a jog on the road, which I might try next time, but there isn’t much room for joggers on the road in that area. If I jog by the river and someone is texting and swerves, I might have to jump into that river.
My choices are a fitness center and being woken up early every morning or no fitness center and not being woken up every morning. I have chosen the latter, but I’ll be staying at this hotel for four nights for WSOP Cherokee in August, which means a fitness setback.
I just thought about this as I’m sitting here typing, and it might be a great solution on the cardio side. I can jog up and down the stairwell in the hotel. This won’t wake anyone and steps are great exercise. On the lifting side, I could place two dumbbells in my backseat of my car and bring them into my hotel room, but that might be a little weird. I will consider that option. I could also fill an old bag with sand or something else to make it heavy, then do creative workouts with that bag in my hotel room.
Worst comes to worst, I’ll bang out a few hundred push-ups each day. This helps muscle endurance, but not much muscle strength. Then again, this depends on your size and how many push-ups you can do. If you can only do 10 push-ups, then they will help you gain strength. Another idea is finding a tree branch to use as a pull-up bar. Pull-ups are the king of back exercises. Therefore, you don’t need a gym to hit your back.
I know all of this might be coming out of left field and sound crazy, but I can’t be one of those guys that sits around a poker table all day and night and watches their belly balloon to the size Violet in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I also feel a lot better after exercising. While I love my caffeine, that kind of energy can’t compare to what you feel after a serious workout. It’s a natural high, and that’s going to help your focus, concentration, and endurance at the poker table.