Organizing Your Schedule as a Professional Poker Player
In order to have the best results on the tables, poker players need to put themselves in the best position to win. Many poker players have unorganized schedules, which hinders their performance while playing. If you are a full time player, having a balanced and steady playing schedule is vital for your success and your life balance.
Here are some key considerations for full time poker players when organizing their schedules:
Have a ‘Set’ Time For Everything
Having a set schedule for your activities is the best way to bring consistency and stability in your life. This means that you should have specific times of the day when you play poker, when you eat, when you exercise, when you socialize, and so on. This does not mean that you cannot deviate from your scheduled activity- life obviously gets in the way. But having a rough idea of when you are doing each activity will help stop the randomness in your life.
A common trend that I see in many full time poker players’ schedules is that they play sporadically throughout the day, with no rhyme or reason. They may play 4 hours in one session one day and play two 6 hour sessions the next day. This interferes with the other parts of their lives (eating, socializing, exercising) and this in turn will lead to more stress while at the tables. When a player does not have a balanced, steady life, their results suffer on the tables.
It does not matter when you set your specific times for different activities, only that you have a rough idea of when you will do them. On a biological level, I believe that playing and being active in non-vampire hours of the day (ie. when there is sunlight out) is the best for your health and social life, but your results may vary.
Downtime and the Importance of Taking Time Away From Your Computer
As poker players, we generally spend anywhere from 6-12 hours on our computers (and if live players, we spend 20-70 hours a week on our butts in the casino). This is incredibly unhealthy and terrible for your body, both in a mental and physical sense. It is important that your hobbies and social activities are away from the computer.
Check out this article: Poker Lifestyle Tips
Break up Your Poker Play
If you are an online cash game player, be sure to break up your sessions so that you play a multitude of shorter sessions and not just one long one. This will enable you to not be fatigued and allow you to stay mentally sharp. I suggest doing 2 or 3 sessions that are 2-3 hours long. I would also recommend that players take frequent breaks as often as they can- we have a horse who actually takes a 5 minute break every 30 minutes (he plays zoom, though) to stay mentally sharp.
If you play live casino games or MTTs, taking breaks or breaking up sessions is a little bit harder. I would still recommend that you try to take as many breaks as you are able to (I know for live MTTs, I would always try to do some slight workouts such as triceps dips and others short workouts on my breaks). A break will help your mind reset and lower your stress level for the next session.
The Importance Of Sleep And Exercise
More of this information can be read in the Poker Lifestyle Tips article, but a poker player’s schedule should absolutely have both exercise and an adequate amount of sleep in it. These two (among others) are vital for the success of a healthy lifestyle.
- Carve out at least 2 work out sessions a week.
- Try to have at least 8 hours of sleep each night. 8 hours is generally hard for most people and if you set a target at 8, you’ll probably get 7, which is also fine.
- Turn off your computer at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep. This will help you relax and get to sleep much easier.
Example of some schedules:
These are a few example schedules from myself and players that I know. You’ll see that most of these schedules are fairly similar in the sense that the players all have exercise and a decent allotment for sleep.
My (Typical) Schedule:
7:00 a.m. – 8:30a.m. – Wake up and browse the internet and read some articles. No work during this time unless it is pressing.
8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. – Work. This consists of emails, chat, meetings, and a lot of other stuff. Generally, all things staking fall during this time.
11:00-11:30 a.m.- Lunch break. While I generally eat at my computer, I keep this to non poker related ‘free time’. I will read a sports article or watch a video game stream or something else.
11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.- Work on staking some more. If it is a slow day, I will try to put this time towards other projects (learning more about cryptocurrencies, blogging, SEO, or other skills).
3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Gym or workout time. I use this time to go to the climbing gym, go for a jog, or something else. This is exercise time.
5:30 p.m. -6:30 p.m.- Dinner time. We generally cook food and this might include buying groceries/prepping/cooking/eating.
6:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.- Relax time. This is generally spent watching T.V., playing video games, or something else.
8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. – Second work period. I spend this time reading articles, watching informational youtube videos, or work on staking projects.
10:30 p.m. – 12:00 midnight- Relax and go to sleep.
Example Of a Horse’s Schedule (Online cash game player) :
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.- Wake up, eat breakfast, browse the internet.
11:00 a.m.-11:15 a.m.- Warm up for first session of the day, grab water and review some hands from the previous session.
11:15 a.m.-1:20 p.m.- First poker session of the day
1:30 p.m.- 2:30 p.m.- Lunch
2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.- Free time and work out session
4:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m.- Second poker session
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.- Dinner
8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Third poker session of the day
10:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.- Poker study session and review/lab work
10:30 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. – Free time (watch t.v. shows, movies, educational videos)
1:00 a.m.- 2:00 a.m.- Wind down for bed.
Example Of a Live Cash game Player’s Schedule:
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon- Wake up, get coffee, eat breakfast.
12:00 p.m.- 1:00 p.m.- Read articles, browse internet, play video games.
1:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m.- Free time with workout. Lunch is at 3:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. More free time, either play video games, browse the internet, or do some poker studying.
5:00 p.m.- 12 midnight- Casino and poker playing time. This includes the commute and overall playing time. Dinner is eaten at the casino, generally around 10:00 p.m.
12 midnight – 1:00 a.m.- Commute home, wind down.
1:00 a.m.- 2:00 a.m. – Sleep after more wind down.
I recommend that you start working on your schedule ASAP if you find that you are doing different activities at different times each day. I believe that you will find that your time is better leveraged and you will also be much more productive overall.
photo source: flickr, Sean MacEntee