Eat right and improve your game – Part III

Part I, Part II, Part III

Feed your brain and watch it grow.

Who wouldn’t like to have a bigger brain for poker? Think of all the strategy you could learn, how quickly you could calculate odds and make devious plans to conquer pots all around! While we do not promise a 50% increase in brain mass, we can point you to some foods that will help your brain repair itself and even grow.

Unless you live under a rock (or chained to three flat screens and 20 single table tourneys, which is quite similar) you must have heard talk of “essential fatty acids” or “Omega 3” oils. This is not astronaut’s food, nor a new invention to make you buy more supplements. These nutrients are old as the hills, and they can be your best friends at the poker table, since eating enough of those will make your brain stronger, healthier, and maybe even bigger.

Essential fatty acids are not “essential” in the sense that oxygen is – they are called “essential” because you have to get them from your food, since the body cannot synthesize them. Hence these are foods you cannot omit altogether, because there is no other way you can get the fatty acids. This is what is so “essential” about them. Is all clear now? OK, so what are they and where do we find them?

The most important fatty acids are the famous Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids (i.e. oils), which are all over the news and talk shows these days because of their cholesterol-reducing powers. But reduced cholesterol is only a secondary benefit – what we are really interested in is poker, right? Well, consider this: brain tissue is composed of fat, and not just any fat but – you guessed it – essential fatty acids: Omega 3 and Omega 6 and something called DHA which we will get to in a minute. EFAs are the main components of brain tissue – the blocks out of which your brain is built.

This is a two-pronged issue: on the one hand, the more of these acids you get, the more building material your brain will have available to repair itself and grow. On the other, if you do not eat enough of these substances (and remember they are “essential” because you have to eat them to get them) then your brain will have to resort to lower quality fats to rebuild itself, which will result literally in a lower-quality brain: decreased memory, lower attention span, reduced analytic capabilities. The horror!

So where are these fats and how soon can you start eating them by the bushel? Omega 6 is easy to find and ingest, as it is present in vegetable oils (such as sunflower, corn and sesame) and cereals; go for whole grain versions whenever possible for extra nutrition. Omega 3 is abundant in oily fish such as salmon, tuna and herring (is that perhaps why Scandinavians are so good at the tables? All those pickled herrings and smoked salmon?) and doctors recommend at least 2 servings per week to cover your brain’s basic needs – however, if you want increased mental powers for those WSOP satellites we recommend you aim for 4 servings of at least 4 ounces each per week. Indulge in lox bagels, or enjoy a meaty tuna steak with a side of wilted spinach or chard for a super powerful brain. Vegetarians need not despair: flaxseed is an excellent source of Omega 3, and walnuts, spinach, eggs and algae are also very high in EFAs. A spinach omelette should be just the thing to eat before a big tourney, and adding walnuts to your cereal or salads on a daily basis will not just make them tastier but also increase your brainpower.

And now let’s talk about DHA, also known as docosahexaenoic acid. DHA is one of the main components of brain tissues, and therefore an important part of any poker player’s diet. The good news are that DHA is not an essential acid, meaning that your body can synthesize it if you get enough Omegas. The better news are that you can also ingest DHA ready made, making it easy for your brain to get all it needs to perform at top capacity. Like the essential fatty acids, DHA can also be found in coldwater fish and seafood, so try to make those a part of your diet and eat them a few times a week Vegetarians are well advised to stock up on flaxseed, soy and canola oil and eating plenty of algae – sushi and miso soup should be a quite tasty way of getting your EFA fix. Daniel Negreanu is a vegan, and look how well he fares!

So go on, order the shrimp kabob or the lobster and tell yourself “this is good for my brain!” You can almost justify it as an inversion to increase your poker ROI. For those still on lower stakes, start off a successful poker career by eating sardines on whole-wheat toast and adding anchovies to your pizza – the lobster will not be far off. Vegetarian grinders could do worse than stock up on trailer mix full of walnuts, brazil nuts and pumpkin seed to snack on while playing, and a fancy meal of wilted chard of collard greens with blue cheese is an excellent way to get EFAs into the system. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will probably enjoy snacks of guacamole and baked tortillas, knowing that avocados are not just delicious but also make you smarter.

If you stock your pantry with the right foods, and include them regularly in your diet, you will be doing yourself a favor in more than one way: EFAs will help lower your cholesterol levels, keep your brain healthy and solid, and increase your mental capabilities for better poker results!

And for those who read the previous article and were wondering about “the miracle nutrients that will make you smarter, healthier, and more attractive;” what can be more attractive than being a smart, powerful, winning player?

Tags: , , ,


Pokeriot is the perfect site for you that love to play poker online. We've got an extensive poker school and a whole lot of poker strategy tips. We also offer continuously updated poker news from all the big poker events in the world and everything else that might be interesting in poker.