I’d never been one for enduring hour-long exercise sessions. But once I started exercising on a consistent basis, I noticed a surprising result – my gambling winnings and focus at the tables improved.
Obviously, exercise is good for your health. But I never expected to see the kind of gambling results I did after starting a workout program.
After all, gambling is mostly a mental thing. This is especially the case with skill-based forms of gambling, where you need good concentration to improve your profits.
But I learned that you can also become a better gambler just by exercising on a consistent basis.
Keep reading as I discuss my own experiences and a sample workout plan and cover the scientific reasons on why working out is good for gamblers. I’ll also cover how you can mix in stretching and meditation to further boost your winnings.
Exercise Leads to More Gambling Winnings
One of the best things that you can do as a gambler is treat every session independently. When you have a bad session, you need to put it in the past and return with a fresh mindset.
But this same philosophy can also leave you stuck in a rut. Allow me to explain with an example of my own experiences:
- I’d play skill-based games in the casino, like blackjack, poker, and video poker
- I would make good decisions and play well within the first couple hours
- But by the third and fourth hours, I’d make small mistakes that were due to a lack of concentration
- After 4 hours, it seemed like my concentration level and strategy dropped noticeably
I often blamed the drop-off on not getting enough sleep or eating fast food that day. But while these habits can definitely affect your play, it was more than just sleep and occasional poor eating habits.
I started considering that my lack of physical activity affected my gambling performance after seeing multiple poker pros speak on the subject. They said that their focus improved greatly after they started exercising regularly.
Given that I exercised maybe once every two weeks on average, this seemed like a logical step to take my gambling to the next level.
What ensued involved joining a gym and working out at least three times a week.
At first, exercising this long made me tired for the rest of the day. But then my energy level picked up and I was able to focus on skill-based games longer.
This meant that my profits improved because I was no longer making basic mistakes after a few hours of play.
Another benefit is that I had more energy to study strategy in my free time. This has been a huge help in daily fantasy sports, poker, and sports betting, where devoting more time to the matter leads to better decisions.
Yet one more positive to my workout schedule is that I get better sleep. This allows me to attack gambling sessions and maximize my profit potential.
Overall, I’ve seen my winnings increase in the year and a half that I’ve been exercising.
My Workout Routine and the Purposes of These Exercises
I’ve been going to the gym 3 to 4 times per week ever since I started exercising regularly. And my workout sessions usually last at least 30 minutes.
You won’t mistake my plan for those used by “The Rock” or LeBron James. But my routine is effective enough at boosting my mental stamina, health, and body recomposition.
You can take a look at my workout advice below and tweak it as needed.
Cardio is important because it boosts blood circulation throughout your body, including the brain.
A more obvious cardio benefit is that it helps you lose weight, too. And I recommend that your sessions be at least 25 minutes.
This is because your body uses glycogen stores during the first 20 minutes of your workout. This means that your body begins using fat stores for energy after this point.
The good thing about cardio is that you can accomplish your goals through a number of exercises, like cycling, running, playing basketball, swimming, or walking.
The goal is to work hard enough to raise your heart rate. This means that you want to push the pace if you’re walking or cycling.
You should also time yourself during these workouts and try to improve your performance over time. Here’s an example:
I use the RunKeeper app on my smartphone
- Week 1: I jog three times, completing 2 miles in 25 minutes each session
- Week 2: I jog three times, completing 2 miles in 24 minutes each session
- Week 3: I jog three times, completing 2 miles in 23 minutes each session
Tracking your progress and aiming for realistic goals helps you gradually get better at cardiovascular workouts.
Out of all the exercises that I do, cardio has had the biggest impact on my gambling performance. This is why I recommend that you place a high priority on cardio workouts above any other type of exercise.
My exercise routine isn’t solely focused on becoming the ultimate gambler. But there are a few things I do to strengthen my core so that I can stay at the blackjack or poker tables longer.
After all, sitting for prolonged time periods is tough on your back. And compensating by slouching for hours leads to back problems and other injuries.
Core exercises that strengthen your trunk are a good way to keep your body from getting fatigued during long table or machine sessions.
You can see sample core exercises below. And the best thing is that you can complete all of these in 15 minutes or less.
Here are some key parameters for how I do this core workout:
- Perform each exercise for 30 to 50 seconds
- Move to the next exercise immediately afterward
- Take a two-minute rest (longer in the beginning) after completing the circuit
- Aim to complete the circuit twice for your first two weeks
- Aim to complete the circuit 3 to 4 times as you become more experienced
(Strengthens your abs, biceps, chest, and spine)
1. Move toward the floor, using your hands and toes to hold your body off the floor
2. Keep your arms out to the side, allowing the exercise to work your chest and biceps
3. Lower yourself to the ground, until your chest touches the floor
4. Raise yourself back up, then repeat
5. Incorporate your abs into the movement, too
(Strengthens your abs, spine, pelvis, and hips.)
1. Get into position like you would for a push-up
2. Move lower so that your elbows are touching the floor
3. Keep your head aligned with your spine
4. Concentrate on using your abs to keep you pulled up – i.e., don’t let your lower back drop to the floor
(Strengthens your hamstrings, quads, back, and hips.)
1. Begin with your feet hip-width apart
2. Lower yourself, keeping your spine flat on the descent (it helps to look at the ceiling)
3. Don’t let your knees go over your toes on the way down
4. Stop when it feels like you’re in a sitting position
5. Raise yourself back up
6. Squeeze your glutes at the top
(Strengthens your hamstrings, hips, quads, and core.)
1. Find an elevated position around 18 inches high (aerobics steps work best)
2. Begin with one foot elevated and one on the floor
3. Step up so both feet are on the elevated position
4. Step back down with the same foot
5. Repeat this for 15 to 20 reps, then switch to the other foot
Lifting weights isn’t as crucial toward boosting your mental stamina in gambling as cardio is. But it gives you the same type of core-building benefits that the exercises above can.
Furthermore, muscle helps you burn more fat when you’re at rest.
If you don’t have a gym membership, you can get some adjustable dumbbells and a flat bench. This is a cheap long-term option for those who aren’t trying to be Mr. Olympia.
Here are a few compound exercises that I like to do during a lifting session. I like compound lifts, because they recruit more muscles and require extra energy:
(Strengthens your chest, biceps, shoulders, and triceps.)
1. Lie down on the bench
2. Use either a barbell or dumbbells
3. Lower the weight down to your chest (lightly touch your chest)
4. Raise the weight back up into the starting position
(Strengthens your hamstrings, quads, glutes, and back.)
1. Find a squat rack
2. Get underneath the weight
3. Put the bar in the groove between your neck and shoulders before lifting the weight off
4. Put your feet hip-width apart
5. Avoid letting your knees go over your toes
6. Stop when you’re in a sitting position
7. Raise back up
8. Squeeze your glutes at the top
(Strengthens your upper/lower back, hamstrings, shoulders, and quads.)
1. Walk up to the bar lying on the ground
2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
3. Grip the bar, with your hands out slightly past your shoulders
4. Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar
5. Lift the bar while concentrating on straightening your chest
6. Lock your knees and hips into place at the top (without jerking your back and shoulders backward)
7. Lower the weight back to the floor in a controlled manner and repeat
Stretching Before Long Gambling Sessions
As mentioned before, long gambling sessions require a lot of sitting. And this leads to your back, shoulder, and hip muscles tightening.
You may not even notice the impact that this has on you. But I can certainly tell a difference when I stretch at home or in a hotel room prior to heading down to the casino compared to when I don’t stretch at all.
I hold the following stretches for about 1 to 2 minutes each:
- Toe stretch – From a standing position, lower yourself until you’re touching your toes (or as close as possible)
- Runner’s stretch – From a sitting position, put one leg out in front of you. Take both of your hands and try to touch your toes
- Quadriceps stretch – While standing, lift and pull one of your legs behind you, so your foot is touching your butt (this requires some balancing)
- Shoulder roll – While standing, roll your shoulders in a circular motion
- Groin stretch – While sitting, bring your feet closer to your groin. Move your head and shoulders as close to your feet as possible
What Science Tells Us About Exercise’s Effect on Gambling
I’ve discussed my personal experiences with how working out boosts my gambling results. But it’s nice to know that studies back up the advantages of exercise, too.
Check out some of the biggest benefits of exercising from a gambling perspective below.
Increase Your Mental Power
Exercise improves everything from your memory to critical-thinking skills. It can even stimulate the growth of brain cells.
One reason why working out is so good for your mind is that it increases the size of the hippocampus region. This is the area that’s crucial for learning and memory.
Boost Your Energy Levels
Gamblers sometimes underestimate how much energy is expended while concentrating for hours. And regular exercise can really increase your physical stamina when betting.
I realize that gambling doesn’t require the energy to run a marathon or bicycle 50 miles. But you’ll definitely appreciate the boost.
Improve Your Sleep Quality
Most people know that sleep is important with regard to concentration and critical thinking. Nevertheless, we all have our bouts of insomnia.
But exercise can help you overcome this by relaxing you before bedtime, thus leading to deeper sleep.
One reason why exercise makes you sleep better is because your body temperature increases during a workout, then drops more than usual during sleep.
Physical pain can prevent you from sitting through a long gambling session. However, exercise has been proven to reduce chronic pain.
This goes against advice that doctors have given for years, which includes rest and avoiding physical activity. But modern studies show that workouts actually improve the situation.
The whole point of gambling is to have fun and hopefully win some money. But there’ll be times where you bring your baggage to the casino.
This especially becomes a problem when you start spewing money as a result. Poker pros commonly refer to this as “tilt,” where you make too many decisions based on emotions.
Working out is a good way to prevent tilt because it reduces anxiety and depression. Exercise does this by boosting the brain’s sensitivity to the hormones norepinephrine and serotonin, both of which lower depression.
Another positive aspect is that exercise increases the production of endorphins, which lead to positive thinking.
Gambling naturally causes stressful situations, no matter how good you may be. But exercise can at least reduce some of the stress you experience as a result.
Norepinephrine not only reduces depression but also controls the brain’s ability to deal with stress. And since workouts increase this hormone, you’ll naturally be better at handling tough gambling scenarios.
Consider Meditating Before Gambling Sessions
While we’re on the subject of using exercise and stretching to prepare for gambling, I’ll quickly cover the benefits of meditation.
The mere mention of this may remind you of some hippie who thinks that wheat grass is its own food group. But the truth is that a number of successful gamblers meditate.
This mind training technique keeps you from wandering during gambling sessions and when you’re studying strategy. It also calms you during tilt and prevents anxiety.
Meditation not only helps you from a mental standpoint but can even change your neural activity and control neurotransmitters like dopamine (a.k.a. the pleasure hormone).
If you’re interested in trying meditation, here are some simple steps to get you started:
You don’t have to meditate for very long to get the advantages. In fact, you’ll experience great benefits just by doing it for 5 to 10 minutes per day.
Consistency is the key to training your mind to focus on the present. And you can meditate longer if you feel like it.
Also note that meditating doesn’t have to be limited to sit-down sessions. You can also practice while you’re taking a leisurely walk, waiting in your car, or even folding laundry.
If you’re doing something like folding laundry or washing dishes, concentrate on exactly what you’re doing in the moment. Staying in the present during a mundane task is a good way to practice meditating.
As you become better at staying in the now, you’ll find yourself able to do the same in gambling games. This will help with the following scenarios:
- When you’re trying to use perfect blackjack strategy
- Studying poker opponents to spot their betting patterns and other tendencies
- Putting a couple of hours into researching good NFL bets
- Creating different lineups for daily fantasy basketball
- Using perfect video poker strategy for hours
Personally, I know that my mind drifts when performing these tasks. But meditation helps me stick to the plan and avoid getting distracted.
Exercising, stretching, and meditating won’t make you a great gambler by themselves. In fact, you’ll get the most benefit by simply studying as much strategy as possible for skill-based casino games.
But if you’re already an experienced gambler who knows strategy in your favorite game(s), then exercising and healthy activities can take your skills to the next level.
I know firsthand that I became a better gambler as a result of dedicating more time to exercise. Working out provides a number of benefits, including enhanced focus, less anxiety during big bets, more confidence, and increased stamina.
I also like to perform a few stretching exercises if I know that it’ll be a long day at the tables/machines. Stretching will help you better deal with long gambling hours.
Meditation is yet one more thing that you can do to boost your gambling ability. This is a great way to mentally prepare yourself to focus on the task at hand.
But if you’re looking for a starting point with all this, I suggest that you get into a regular exercise routine first. Once you have the exercising down, move on to the stretching and meditating.