Staying Sane During SCOOP

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It’s just turned May, which means its SCOOP time – a big time of the year for most poker players.

Normally this is an intense period as you try to manage playing as much as possible. Combining this with lockdowns going on around the world, the topic of staying sane during SCOOP is well worth looking into.

By either listening or reading below discover the simple things that practically never get put into action.

The Losing Stress Podcast Ep 56 – Staying Sane During SCOOP

The basis of this article is work I did together with a player 1-on-1 recently. So this should be incredibly applicable.

First and foremost when you’re looking at this, (so how to stay happy, healthy & operating smoothly during this online tournament series) the first thing that comes to mind is doing the simple things well. So:

  • Sleep;
  • Your diet;
  • Taking care of your body (including exercise).


These are some big areas to look into – where you can get into many specific ‘tactics’. Which, unfortunately, is going to be difficult to provide in this written article format – without any context and background for who it applies to.

But the good news is, we can touch upon some common helpful things in each of these areas. So let’s take sleep.

Sleep And Rest During SCOOP

What can help with sleep?

During SCOOP you’re playing poker for a long period of time. And you’re often playing til late (or railing til late) and then looking to go to sleep immediately.

What tends to go unacknowledged with this is that you get stuck in this ‘poker mode’ – where your mind is continually thinking about poker. And where you find your sleep isn’t particularly restful.

If you don’t simply ignore this you see the importance of doing something helpful about this.

The most obvious this is to have some kind of ‘switching-off’ period.

This, of course, is a challenging thing to try and implement when you’re tired and already stuck in your habits.

But when you look at this clearly you see the benefits of actually going through some kind of process that allows your mind-body to switch off in some way.

So this could be something body related related like yoga, stretching or self-massage.

Or it could even be something more mind specific. For example, investigative writing (journalling):

What left an impression on my memory today?

Your Diet During SCOOP

During SCOOP your mind-body is tasked with having to make thousands of decisions each day.

And the mind-body can only output a finite amount of ‘work’ before there is a deterioration in performance.

Put simply, decision making uses energy.

And where this relates to diet is that having to decide on what to eat and drink also requires energy.

What you may have noticed is that when you’re trying to decide what to eat whilst playing, things get messy. Effectively, multi-tasking is a huge use of energy.

Probably, then, the easiest and most impactful step you can make when it comes to your diet during a tournament series like SCOOP is to prepare beforehand what you’re going to eat the next day.

So either doing that yourself or leaving that responsibility to somebody else that you’re living with. For example, leaving it up to your partner to plan, prepare and order or make food.

In fact, it helps just to have prepared what you’re going to eat for the day. So this doesn’t necessarily have to be done the day before, but you’ll often find that this is easier to implement – rather than waking up the next day and then planning ahead.

Keeping The Body Healthy During SCOOP

When it comes to the body, one of the things that first comes to the mind is getting in some movement.

Because when you’re playing online, of course, you’re typically being sedentary – something our bodies were not designed to be.

So it makes sense to still be exercising as much as you can. Including switching between standing and sitting if you can facilitate that at your desk.

Further, another very important thing to really pay attention to is how stress builds in the body.

If you can actually provide some care by looking into this, you’ll find that the whole experience of going through SCOOP can be incredibly different from the ‘norm’.

That is when you’re just typically ‘going through the motions’ of trying to make as much money as you can and play as many tournaments as you can. Where you operate with this underlying anxiety and stress.

This leads us nicely now into looking at what you decide to actually play.

The SCOOP Schedule

It really does help to look at the SCOOP schedule beforehand:

To see which tournaments that you really want to go ahead and play.

What can help is categorising the ‘must plays’ and the ‘nice-to-plays’.

This is because it is challenging to go ahead and play everything. And impossible really at a high-functioning level.

And so when you see the ‘must-plays’ and ‘nice-to-plays’ written or drawn out neatly (i.e. not just have this be floating around in your mind) you can then clearly map out your when to play.

And to do this in whilst bearing in mind staying balanced and healthy is highly intelligent.

And so that covers many practical and simple things you can go ahead and do during this time.

But it’s also very helpful to look into yourself and recognise what common challenges could come up.

Your Challenges During SCOOP

By looking ahead honestly and clearly you can help with identifying potential challenges.

To illustrate this, let’s take an example:

I feel socially disconnected, right now, because it feels like all I’m doing is playing poker. And I’m, also, in isolation.

During SCOOP and in the times we currently live in, hopefully, you can see how this potential issue could easily arise.

So can you look into this issue and ask yourself:

What would I like to do about this if it comes up?

Satisfactory answers may not come up very easily. But if you look into these certain issues, what you’re going to find, very often, is that there are very simple and effective things that you can do.

Dealing With Mental Challenges During SCOOP

First and foremost, if an issue does come up it’s worth understanding the importance of going into the issue and investigating it.

That is understanding what’s really going on. And then from there deciding what to do about it.

From what we just explored, though, if you’re able to identify, beforehand, what the likely challenges are then you can write your own prescriptions. And look at these during times of need.

Effectively, you can be your own doctor, your own mindset coach and your own performance coach.

Something, in fact, that is vital to be. Because nobody else, unfortunately, can be there completely with your mind and your body during this challenging time in poker.

And this marks a helpful place to leave this article – hopefully a read that has provided you with practical steps you can take.