Posts Tagged ‘Poker Life Coach’

Neutralize Stress, Reduce Pressure

by , Aug 11, 2011 | 5:06 am

Jen Dunphy

Poker Life Coach

Making a distinction between pressure and stress is important at the poker table whether you are playing tournament or cash; so let’s get the details straight.

– Stress in any form generally happens or just exists like pollution, life changes or traffic.

– Pressure is imposed by yourself or others in the form of deadlines, personal standards and beliefs about the “right” way to do things.

Leaving room for reality that neither is always the case; we often think of stress as pressure and pressure as stress. Makes sense right? However, this isn’t always true.

Most players when faced with stress (small stack, the bubble, aggressive opponent) react with resistance. Resistance is hard work and can make you tired (another stress) which can make you want to give up on what’s important to you (a personal pressure) and so on and so on…

Whether a heart rate goes up or a body gets tense, we tend to resist stress. The irony is resisting magnifies the stress, which tends to have you put more pressure on yourself to be successful; creating a self feeding cycle that leads people to a state of pain – aka. Tilt!

To minimize any negative impact on your game, do a bit of self-searching to notice how you react to stress and where there is pressure in your life. Being aware of your reactions, beliefs and internal self-talk will help you keep stress and pressure in check.

Whether you notice it at the table or just going about your day, ask yourself: How do I react to stress, and where is there pressure in my life?

Your answers will give you the ability to identify when and where you are resisting stressors and creating pressure.

Another strategy is to practice being with the stress without reacting to it (like watching a movie instead of being in it). Pull yourself above the situation to witness it from the outside. See yourself as a character and make decisions as a director. This perspective will help you make a decision based on the facts with less stress, and thus pressure removed.

If you are anything like my clients (and myself of course), you may be putting undo pressure on yourself by responding to stress with negativity or resistance. Check it out, see what you notice and start making a conscious choice to relate to stress and pressure in a way that supports you and your game.

Certified Life Coach Jen Dunphy shares her mind-and-body insight for poker players semi-regularly on Pokerati. You can read her columns here, and follow her on Twitter here.

Poker Physiology

by , Jul 16, 2011 | 6:50 am

Jen Dunphy

Poker Life Coach


Your body is an intricate and delicate system designed to sense threat, and biologically programmed to avoid it. Your nervous system is a vast information highway that runs every cellular process in the body. From breathing and your heartbeat to movement and thought, your nervous system affects every process of your body.

So what’s happening in your body during a hand?

Because of the unknown outcomes, the variability of chance, and the sheer financial risk, poker is stressful by design. Let me be clear about what I mean. Let’s define stress as a physical, emotional or chemical factor that causes bodily or mental tension and let’s avoid judgment of whether stress is good or bad. Stress simply exists and we live in relation to it.

So during a hand, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or experience at the table, a body responds to stress exactly the same. Stress is a threat and regardless of the size, shape, cause or intensity the body reacts with a Fight or Flight response.

Originally intended to protect you, the fight or flight response causes a release of hormones that:

  • Increase your heart rate
  • Increase your blood glucose (blood sugar)
  • Put you in a “ready” state

Ever have the feeling that you need caffeine, sugar and other stimulants to keep you on your toes? You’re simply prolonging the “high” your body has already initiated.


Poker Fitness: 5 Keys to surviving the WSOP

by , Jun 24, 2011 | 12:38 pm

Jen Dunphy

Poker Life Coach

Mindset, mindset, mindset! It’s a common buzzword around poker, and with each calculated risk/reward scenario being played out inside the inner workings of the brain, there’s no doubt that a poker player’s mindset is important. If you haven’t cleared your head of hang ups, fears, negative habits and weak confidence, you just won’t go far.

But your head is attached to your body, and if you haven’t put consistent effort towards taking care of your body, your mind will be less likely to cooperate. That doesn’t have to mean running marathons or lifting weights. There are things poker players can do without dramatically altering their routines that can improve the chances that your mind will be in the right place at the right time. No matter what your current level of fitness, here are 5 simple ways for poker players to keep their bodies in gear throughout the WSOP: