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Forget Goals, Embrace Systems Part 2

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In a previous article, we discussed why
systems help you change your life while goal setting can fall short. In the
article after that, we discussed what poker systems will help you get the
results you want on the felt. In this article, we are going to discuss some
systems that you can implement in regards to your life. These life systems will
help improve your mood, which will help you play better poker.

To recap, to get the best results you are
going to need to track every day you fulfill a system. If you do the work
required by the system, write the date down in a notebook page dedicated to
that system, and number the entries. At the top of the page, write in big
letters what your target accuracy percentage is. Do you want to perform this
system 60% of the days? 80% of the days? Know what you’re aiming for, implement
the small but rigorous changes, track everything, and do the work. By the end
of the month, see what percentage of the days you followed through on your

These are the systems that have helped me
the most in life and career. Decide which ones will work for you.

Drink A Gallon Of Water Per Day

You naturally mellow out when you are
hydrated. It stops you from snacking on energy depleting foods.

It’s easy to drink a gallon of water too.

Get a water bottle that can hold a liter of
water. Put some pitchers in your refrigerator with tap water. Pour the cold
water into your water bottle whenever you want some ice water.

Finish a liter of water right when you wake
up. Refill it. Down it again with each meal. When you have a cup of coffee,
keep dehydration at bay by downing the water again.

You’ll find drinking cold water actually is
fairly easy when you parse it out like this. You only need to drink four liters
to get to a gallon.

Everyone should aim to do this 90% of their

No Processed Sugar, No Grains

I was in the worst shape of my life in
2016. In 2019, I got into the best shape of my life, hitting my personal
records in the weight room and getting my body fat down.

The process, which saw me losing 55 pounds
and then packing on muscle, wasn’t as hard as you’d think. It simply took one
system implemented each day.

That was no processed sugar, no grains.

It’s pretty simple. You load up on
vegetables and lean proteins. No one has ever discovered anything wrong with a
green vegetable. Broccoli technically has more protein per calorie than steak.

Just go to the grocery store and get
turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, avocados, mixed nuts, and small amounts of cheese.
Grab your broccoli, asparagus, and spinach too.

The easiest meals in the world to cook are
protein and vegetables. If you’re scared of the vegetables, get the frozen
fresh variety and heat them up.

If you still think you can’t cook a lean
protein, focus on baking fish. Baking many varieties of fish is about the
easiest dish in the world to cook up. Google how much time it takes and what
temperature. Put it in the oven with some salt and pepper on it, set the timer,
pull it out. Anyone can do it. Wild salmon is so delicious on its own it
doesn’t even require much more on this, although I’d recommend diced garlic on
top of it.

Whenever you’re dying for carbs or sugar,
I’d recommend having a small amount of fruit. Many of the diet people on the
internet will tell you this is sacrilegious. However, our real goal is to get
you clear-headed and focused through a clean diet. We want you to have energy
at the tables and in your day job. If you’re performing well at work, with your
family, and with your spouse that will put you in the right mindset to succeed
on the felt. In my experience, what impedes that the most is processed food,
not fruit. It’s all the fast food, fried food, candy, and heavy white carbs.
It’s not a handful of blueberries.

If you want to go real hardcore with this,
have your first meal of the day at 2:00 PM. Your body will get used to not
having breakfast. There’s an adjustment, but it gets there. Then, at 2:00 PM,
eat a large meal. Have a smaller leaner dinner at night. Munch on mixed nuts,
slices of lean proteins, and small amounts of cheese if you get hungry.

The great part about this system is if you
maintain it 90% of days it seems to have great results. If one day out of ten
you decide to grab some pizza, it doesn’t seem to effect things much. You can
save up those days for a vacation.

You can still eat the foods you want. You
just do it in moderation. You’ll find you’ll enjoy your food more when you
watch your intake most days. Desserts taste extremely sweet when you haven’t
had them in a while. White carbs are to die for when you earned them.

I’d just recommend you not schedule your
dietary days off for when you’re playing. Grains, carbs, and processed sugar
gives you a glycemic spike and then a crash. It is extremely difficult to play
through a crash. Rely on the almonds and avocados if you’re playing.

Make Coffee At Home And Watch Your
Caffeine Intake

Everyone needs to find what their maximum
caffeine allotment is and stick to it. Pay attention to yourself. Is it two
cups that gets you jittery? Three cups a day? Does the effect change if you
drink water with each cup?

Many poker players have addictive
personalities. Most of them largely cut the drugs and booze out at some point
in order to stay competitive, but their addictive personality keeps them diving
for the coffee.

Make your coffee at home so you’re not
spending thousands of dollars a year on it. A reusable steel filter will make
better coffee than what you’ll get at Starbucks. Don’t put any of the sugars or
fake sugars in it, because they all seem to cause a spike in energy followed by
a crash.

If you do this 80% of days, you’ll save a
ton of money and cause yourself not to burn out on the felt.


Truthfully, it’s likely humans need to
exercise every single day. Think of what happens to a dog if you keep it holed
up in a small room all day. The dog goes insane. Homo sapiens are far more
complex than dogs. They need far more stimulation.

If you can work out in some fashion 80% of
the days you are on this Earth, you will be way ahead of many poker players.

Working out doesn’t mean running a half
marathon. It can mean playing pick-up basketball for an hour. It can mean going
on a walk with your spouse. It just needs to be something.

There are reams of evidence now about how exercise
helps you process stress differently, create new brain cells, learn more
effectively, etc. It truly is a miracle drug. Public schools that have
implemented intense physical education courses have seen their test scores
dramatically rise!

If I could make one suggestion, however, it
would be to lift weights. Strength training has been the best bang for the buck
time-wise I’ve ever found in exercise. If you’re a male, it helps you jack up
your testosterone considerably, no supplements required. It puts you into a
better mood and makes you more assertive in life.

Read A Grounding Book Daily

There’s considerable speculation now that
all of our screens are making us anxious. The blue light seems to have an
effect on our circadian rhythms. It gives us perpetual jet lag which stunts the
psyche. That’s before we even discuss the effects of social media.

What is the antidote for this anxiousness?
A physical book. Cognitive neuropsychologists are studying it now. They find it
is a greater stress reducer than walking or listening to music.

What book should you read? That’s up to

If you’re a religious man or woman, you can
read your chosen text.

If you’re not religious, I’d recommend the
Stoic philosophers. It’s incredible how much of their musings still apply to
day-to-day life. It’s actually jarring.

If that’s not your bag, the Tao Te Ching is
fantastic too.

A book of stirring quotes is also great to
meditate on.

Just pick some way to disconnect. Do it as
many days as possible.

Sleep At Least Seven Hours A Night

Pretty no brainer stuff, I know, but we
need to discuss it.

I don’t know many people who have abused
their sleep hygiene more than I have. I look for low-to-mid stakes games live
and online. If I find a good one, I don’t want to leave. It’s an obsession I

Abusing my sleep cycles has gotten me
ahead, but it has taken its toll.

When you observe good sleep hygiene for a
week, you can feel a complete difference. There is no way to play a major
tournament without observing good sleep hygiene.

Get your ear plugs. Get your eye mask. Do
whatever you have to. It’s important.


Honestly, if you do just the systems I
wrote out in the past couple of articles, you’ll find yourself playing much
better. Most of the game is paying attention, staying patient, and thinking
clearly. Taking care of your health and poker study is 99% of that process.

The hardest part is simply following

That said, it is meritocratic and beautiful
how everything in poker is open to anyone who is willing to do the work.

I sincerely hope the person who wants it
bad enough is you.

Good luck to all of you.

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