Unfortunately, we’re still at a point in time where the mere mention of meditation conjures up images of some vegan hippie who spends his days practicing yoga, taking shots of wheatgrass and complaining that his mom, whom he lives with, doesn’t have enough raw foods in the fridge. But assuming you can get past the stereotype surrounding mediation, there are actually some big benefits to this practice for poker players.
The main benefit that Negreanu points out is how effective meditation can be at helping you overcome bad beats. We all have a Mike-Matusow moment here or there after a bad beat – only without the cocaine coming out our pours and incessant cursing – and this can really affect one’s play during a tournament or cash game. But by meditating, even if it’s just 3-5 deep breaths, Negreanu believes players can remain calm and level-headed during most poker situations. Here’s one really good excerpt from the blog post:
People often ask me how to deal with a bad beat, and my answer to that is to take three to five really deep breaths. That in itself is a form of mediation that can help center you and relieve the body of anxiety. As you meditate more often, this practice can help you deal with these situations more easily.
When people start with meditation they often think they are doing it wrong because they are unable to clear their mind of thoughts. There is no wrong way to do meditation, thoughts will come and go, the mind is designed to have thoughts. Over time, the thoughts don’t go away, but you become better at simply noticing them and separating yourself from your minds thoughts.
Given that Negreanu has been in poker for two decades and earned Oprah-type money in tournaments ($30 million), it’s obvious that he never stops looking at ways to improve his game. And it looks like meditation is something new that he’s added to his arsenal. So if you’re searching for a way to avoid smacking your laptop screen with a 9-iron after having pocket aces cracked by T-8 offsuit, maybe you should consider it too.