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MTT Preparation

By: Andromeda284 @ 11:24 (EDT) / 468 / Comment ( 0 )

Whether it’s the regular weekly tournament, the occasional satellite or the prestigious Sunday Million, there should be some sort of preparation leading up to the event. This month, work has taken up most of my time so sadly, I haven’t dedicated as much time as I would have liked to play poker. Those few times I did play (unprepared) made me realise the importance of being ready to play for an MTT, and how lack of preparation significantly impacted the quality of my game and my decisions.Therefore, the subject of this blog post is going to be about how maintaining a work-life balance helps me to be prepared when approaching MTTs


Have you ever heard of the phrase, “you are what you eat,” or “the human body is like a car,” or how about this, “home is where the heart is.” And now, I’m going to throw in the analogy that everybody loves to use, “consciousness is only the tip of the iceberg.” There’s a reason why these phrases are so well known:  they highlight the key constituents of our existence: mind, body and soul.

In an ideal world, we would be in perfect equilibrium. However, in the real world balance is so easy to fall out of and difficult to regain. Personally, I’ve always found it challenging to obtain a work-life balance. Even though I enjoyed my job in the City, it was only when I requested for a transfer closer to home that I realised how much my life revolved around work: 5AM start, 7PM finish, and did I mention the additional hours spent in a train or underground station due to delays, rush-hour, and frequent “signal failures”? Without a doubt, the Central Line between 08:30 and 09:00 is the absolute worst.

You never hear “mind” without “body” or “body” without “soul” and vice-versa. Again, there’s a reason for this. These things are correlated and directly affect each other. It only takes a minor emotional imbalance to negatively affect the mind, which in turn affects the physical body.


In my case, this is the most important for me because when I have a ‘mini-break-down’ at work everything stops! The stress levels increase, my patience decreases and next thing I know I am snapping at everyone, and have morphed into the Wicked Witch of the West.

Not good!

When I think that I’m about to lose the plot, one thing I like to do which works quite well is remove myself from the situation for a few minutes and do some breathing exercises. I first came across these when discovering Ayurveda a few years ago. For those who don’t know, Ayurveda is an alternative medical system originating from India. Breathing exercises, or otherwise known as “pranayama” are techniques used to control the breath. The breath is considered to ‘carry a person’s life force.’ The one I like to do is “Nadi Shodhan” which involves alternate nostril breathing. It supposedly helps to calm the mind, and release accumulated stress. Even if I am in a tournament and begin to feel overwhelmed, I like to do these deep breathing exercises to calm down again. For me it works! Everyone has their own way of releasing stress and anxiety, but I think that some form of meditation would be beneficial to anyone.


Next, in terms of diet and exercise, everyone is different and have their own specific requirements. You would know if you are eating well or not!  Luckily I have quite a fast metabolism and my diet is pretty good, also I don't drink alcohol or smoke. Perhaps the only box I don't tick in this section is the exercise part - I do strength training once a week and it’s only for 30-45 minutes. Maybe I ought to increase that to at least three times per week, but quite frankly I am happy doing this only once a week for now. Plus, now that I work locally I walk pretty much everywhere so….


Is the boss on your case again? That colleague keeps getting recognition for doing nothing whilst you're slaving away? Partner is being stubbon again ("it's my way or the high way")? 

 A general rule that I always stick to is this: If for some reason I argue with someone, whether it’s a colleague, family member or friend, I will always try to resolve the problem and make sure we’re on good terms again before the end of the day. Reason why I do this is because losing sleep and worrying over a disagreement is not very pleasant! It’s also good to resolve any underlying issues as soon as possible rather than bottling everything in – why must we put our hearts under unnecessary distress? Of course it's not as simple as it  seems! Not all situations can be resolved instantly, but we can at least try. Our emotional state affects how we make decisions, so before approaching an MTT it's important to make sure that we're not holding on to things beyond our control. 

So how can a work-life balance help me prepare for MTTs?

It’s quite simple: to maintain focus and concentration for long periods of time in order to make the best possible decisions during an MTT we need a strong body, an open mind and a peaceful soul.

Once there is balance outside of poker, then I know I can approach the tables with confidence and focus on the game rather than involuntarily worrying about other things. MTTs are long, and the mind does drift off if there are underlying issues or worries.

The following cycle is what I like to use to make sure I’m on track. It consists of three main actions:

The planning stage is quite straight-forward. It involves managing time effectively. Personally, I always use a diary where I schedule things like appointments, meetings and shift patterns for work, lectures and study time for my course, and of course poker. By scheduling these things I find it easier to fit in time for myself and family too.

For poker I choose which type of MTT (ie turbo, rebuy, satellite etc) and schedule the time and dates. I will also make time for study such as live training, videos, hand analysis, and strategy articles.

So, this is where mind, body and soul come in. Things such as a healthy lifestyle and managing time effectively are constant, so you're only putting in extra preparation is if you know you've been off track lately. Also, I will look through my diary and make sure all my tasks for the day are done. So this stage is basically implementing what has been planned earlier. For instance, on a tournament day it would involve watching a past live training session here at PSO which is relevant, watch a final table, and go over any concepts I'm not sure of or anything I've found in reviews. It's a bit like revising for an exam. 

The final stage of this process is to actually sit down and play poker. Yay!
Ok, now we can think with clarity and rationalise with our minds not our emotions. If  I’ve managed my time effectively then by the time it’s tournament day, I find that it’s easier to focus my attention to the tournament, as there is no other distraction from outside of poker. 

Finally, in poker, being able to regulate fluctuating emotions, maintaining focus and being open to adapt and learn new things are key factors. To add to all of this, we also need to be physically strong so we can concentrate for extended periods of time.

Maintaining a balanced lifestyle shouldn’t be over-looked as the decision-making process is of course directly affected by how we think and how we feel. I don’t think I will play a poker tournament without preparation, as this month I was so tired from work, that even if I wanted to play for fun it wasn’t really enjoyable, and I would be annoyed after making a clearly wrong decision. 

So, as Thales (Greek philosopher) says, be ‘healthy in body,’ ‘resourceful in soul,’ and keep your minds open to learning!

Plan & prepare, reach that optimum balance, and the world could be yours  -

 Good luck at the tables! 

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