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How to Eat at the World Series of Poker

How to Eat at the World Series of Poker

In case you missed it, we've already highlighted some of the perils of poker eating habits, and how you can avoid sugar crashing, binging on bad food, starving on fifth street, or otherwise drying out via the companion article in this series.

But what should you eat during the 50th World Series of Poker, and where should you eat it? The WSOP can be a grueling grind as well as a glorious one, and it's important to understand exactly what you're doing when seeking the nourishment you'll need to survive and thrive.

1. Foods to Help Your Memory

There are few things more important in poker than having a good memory — or if there is, we've forgotten it. From remembering cards that players have held to the physical tells that trigger your own actions, our brain needs to recall previous events clearly if we're to succeed. But what foods boost your ability to remember?

Our brains respond to our commands because of biochemical neurotransmitters, and the one that helps your memory is called acetylcholine. This can aid your memory, but it also assists with your general focus, too. To keep this at the level it needs to be, we need to eat foods containing choline. Such foods are in fact difficult to find in and around casinos, so preparation of your "memory foods" may need to be carried out before you even arrive.

Some foods that include choline are oranges, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, kidney beans, peanuts, oats, tomatoes, cabbage, corn, barley and salmon. Obviously avoid eating them all at once, which would be disgusting, but incorporating some of them into your diet when you're playing poker all day is a really good idea.

2. Foods to Boost Your Energy

It's all very well to be able to remember what cards the player two to your left had at showdown a couple of orbits ago, but you must keep your energy up, too. We've already warned you against the potentially ill effects of too much sugar and caffeine, but what are the alternatives? As it happens, there are plenty.

Eating foods containing serotonin helps to boost your energy naturally, as well as keeps your mood evenly balanced while limiting any anxiety or stress you might be feeling. That's always a plus when playing, especially if it's your first time at the WSOP felt.

Some foods that contain serotonin include chocolate, potatoes, seeds, yogurt, avocadoes, lean red meat, spinach and peas. Oh, and bananas again. This is one reason why you often see tennis players munching on a monkey's favorite food. Not only does it keep them swinging (like the monkey), but it tops up those vital neurotransmitter stores in their brains.

3. Foods to Help You Stay Calm

Ask successful poker players what their greatest skill is and many will respond that an ability to remain calm and patient helped them succeed the most.

Your brain needs dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps you stay calm and adds to your sense of bliss more directly than rivering the nut flush. Let's face it, when you've just bluffed your entire stack on the turn and you're praying for your opponent to fold, couldn't you do with a little help to stay calm?

There are several foods you can eat that generate dopamine, such as proteins (keep it keen and lean with chicken, fish, or turkey), as well as watermelon, cheese, beans, pulses and bananas (again).

4. Dining Out in Vegas

One of the best ways to eat at the World Series is with friends. With hour-long dinner breaks at some points, you're going to have to move quickly to head somewhere outside the local area and get back before you are auto-folding cards. Plan ahead by hiring an Uber or carpool with others to the nearest restaurant of choice.

Las Vegas is famous for its many superb restaurants, so there is the luxury of many amazing choices even for those in a hurry. If you're eating post-poker or pre-tournament day, then it's worth booking a table at your favourite fine-dining establishment, because Vegas has a reputation for selling out in more ways than one. Picking off the menu needn't be as disciplined as only choosing ingredients from the neurotransmitter smorgasbord.

Go with a relatively healthy meal when you're out, and steering clear of alcohol wherever possible is a good idea. But if you're generally eating the things you should that help your brain power, then a meal out in Vegas is a great way to celebrate no matter what you choose from the menu.

Dining out on a budget while in LV? Check out "Eating Right in Vegas Without Breaking Your Bankroll."

5. Cooking with Friends

While eating out is fun, cooking and preparing food has many benefits, not all of them being physical or mental. Cooking together with others can be a very therapeutic activity, especially among poker friends. The happiness of all your crew will be given restorative powers when you dig out the wok and knives at your rental house or Airbnb.

Cooking can have a positive influence on yourself and others, as the act of cooking has been used at mental health facilities for many years to improve residents' spirits. It releases endorphins, which in turn keeps you happy and of a healthy outlook, which, of course, makes you want to cook good food.

Get cooking, eat the right food and, every now and again in Vegas, treat yourself to a meal out in one of the stunning restaurants that fill Sin City.

Photo: "Salmon + Veggies,” Ella Olsson, CC BY 2.0.

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  • We break down how best to eat your way through the WSOP in style and with an eye on your health.

  • Eating right while at the WSOP can actually aid memory, boost energy, and help you stay calm.

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