Fitness is in the Cards

The stars of High Stakes Poker reveal how they stay at the top of their game

Fitness generally isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the typical poker player. But the participants of the TV series High Stakes Poker know the advantages of keeping your body running like a fine-tune machine. We caught up with four of the show's top players to find out how they keep their bodies and minds sharp at all hours of the day and night.  

Patrik Antonius

1.) Keep workout routine fresh. I try to work out every day when I feel I have enough energy to "hit it hard." I've found that working out when tired brings on more negative results than positive. It also increases the chance of injury. My workout usually consists of lifting weights, extensive stretching, and some cardio. Sometimes I will even perform some more demanding physical exercises such as running fast sprints to get my heart rate up. Variety in routine is very important. I like to change it up here and there to keep my body guessing. I also like to play tennis and golf. Tennis is a great sport that works all muscles and walking a golf course gives my legs a solid workout.

2.) Put an emphasis on eating healthy. I am a firm believer that working out is the most important thing for my body but eating healthy is a close second. I try to avoid any drinks with sugar in them. Every once in awhile, I might have some fresh juice in the morning, but that's about it when it comes to sugary drinks. I usually eat four to six meals per day. Most of my meals contain high amounts of protein but I always make sure to get just enough carbs. I also avoid any and all fried foods. If I'm craving a cheat meal, it usually ends up being a burger. No french fries!!

3.) Sleep. I do my best to get make sure I get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. As a poker player, this is not an easy thing to do as there are games running at all hours of the night. However, I make my sleep a priority. I always want to feel fresh when I wake up in the morning. Feeling sluggish due to lack of sleep leaves me with very little energy to get through a tough workout. Too many people underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep.

Daniel Negreanu

1.) Avoid overeating. Eating too much food can make you sluggish and tired and can cause you to lose focus — and money.

2.) Eight hours of sleep. It's crucial that you get a full night's rest before play. A tired mind makes sloppy decisions.

3.) Avoid alcohol prior to, and during, play. Alcohol dehydrates you and also kills brain cells you just might need when making a tough decision in a big pot. Save the partying until after the session.

Antonio Esfandiari

1.) Find extra motivation. I made a workout bet — best bet I've ever made. I must workout four times a week! It's $2,500 for every session missed. If I were to workout only three days in one week I'd lose $2,500. Basically, I'm never going to miss a workout. To lose $2,500 and not get in shape is not something that's not going to happen.

2.) Deep-fried has to go. I also made a no deep-fried-food bet. Eating healthy is the key to staying in shape. I try and eat as healthy as possible and cutting any and all deep-fried foods out of my diet helps (what I would do for a french fry right now...).

3.) Stay hydrated. I drink lots of water. Living in Vegas, it's so dry — you must drink as much water as possible.

Phil Laak

1.) Keep it interesting. I try and utilize the idea of muscle confusion when ever possible. For example, if I am running I always do a little bit of backwards and sideways stepping. If your body gets used to the same motion all the time then you are not using your body effectively.
 
2.) Make the most of any situation. If I catch myself  "wasting time" by watching bad TV I justify it by stretching at the same time. I would love to make yoga a regular part of my routine — but in the mean time I can give my body a good run for it by keeping up with my general stretching.
 
3.) Keep the hands happy. When I play cards and am having a massage (most of the casinos have 'em) I like to emphasize the hands, going back and forth 10 minutes on each hand — for up to an hour sometimes. For some reason that just does magic for me. Happy hands means good decision-making!

High Stakes Poker premieres Sunday, March 1 at 9pm/8pm C on GSN

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