Poker Strategy | Steak and Chips | You are what you eat | Jack BeresfordCardspiel

Stakes and chips: In Poker You Are What You Eat

Jack Beresford explains how changing your dietary habits can improve your game

“Lunch is for wimps,” Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko famously proclaimed in Wall Street, yet 27 years on from the release of the Oliver Stone finance epic, I’m sat at my computer in the midst of a Texas Hold’em tournament at 1:30pm, feeling rather weak.

Food does not feature highly in most guides to poker strategy, yet what you eat – or the lack of it – may affect your performance more than you realise. Too much can make you dozy. Not enough can put you on edge. As for the wrong kind of food…A recent trip to Napoleon’s Casino in Leicester Square for a spot of Three Card Poker was an eye-opening experience, with customers benefitting from free breakfasts and an all-you-can-eat buffet that runs round the clock. I was a little sceptical about the cerebral benefits of eggs and bacon in an environment housing fast-paced card classics like Blackjack. However a study in the International Journal of Obesity suggests otherwise. Researchers from the University of Alabama claim that fatty breakfasts may represent the ideal start to the day for those looking to stay energised and healthy.

They found that mice fed a high-fat meal for breakfast were healthier than those who ate fatty dinners later in the day, and better able to process different kinds of foods as the day wore on than those who ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast.

So when it comes to food and poker, is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Perhaps, but it’s not the only dietary advice available to avid players both online and in the casino. A general guideline is that main meals are best enjoyed before any tournament, but too many players – myself included – take the fast-food option. Burgers and fries are a staple diet with stakes and chips, but you eat them at your peril.

This kind of carbohydrate-heavy, fatty-meat product is guaranteed to send blood sugar levels out of control, while its heavy, stodgy content can make you lose concentration, resulting in lost hands and big money blowouts.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you will, but I think there’s a reason that Las Vegas is famed for its delicious burgers. A trip to Sin City could include a visit to the très elegant Harrah’s Las Vegas Le Burger Brasserie, where customers feeling flush can dine out for $777 on a sirloin burger made from Kobe beef and Maine Lobster topped off with caramelized onions, Brie, crispy prosciutto and balsamic vinegar served alongside a Dom Pérignon Rose Champagne. Gordon Ramsay’s new Vegas restaurant at the Planet Hollywood casino is even called ‘BurGR’.Those keen to keep to more of a budget can head to the Mirage for Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Burger, where Lamb tandoori and turkey burgers are just two of the alternative options alongside a 100% certified Angus beef burger.

All very delectable, but all very deadly at the same time, for anyone hoping to win big. Instead, poker stars would do better to remember that the key to dietary efficiency at the green felt is … well … greens.

It’s advice I’m cautiously preparing to take on board. For my next online outing I will be preparing what I’ve christened as my ABCs – an Apple, some steamed Broccoli and a Carrot for good measure.And as for those in-game pangs of hunger, I’ve decided to ditch the notion that I would enjoy sweet success with PokerStars simply by eating a chocolate bar or bag of skittles. Instead, it’s strategic and intelligent snacking for me – watermelon, peanut butter and, best of all, almonds.

Known for their energy-giving properties, almonds are a sure-fire way to help avoid the kind of moments of wimpish weakness I’m currently in the midst of as I sit at my laptop wondering whether to call or fold.

But maybe on this occasion I’ll pick up the phone and treat myself to a takeaway. For old time’s sake.

Image ‘Cub and meat III by Tambako The Jaguar’

> Photographers Website

> License Info