Over the last few years, poker players have taken a completely different stance when it comes to how they view their health and fitness. When the World Series of Poker (WSOP) was still in its early stages, we could rarely see physically-fit players as most of the veteran poker pros were mostly out-of-shape individuals who did not pay much attention to their physical and mental health. They just took things in their stride and focused more on their poker strategy rather than anything else.
However, the poker players of today are paying more attention to their total wellness, with many of the younger generation of poker players focusing on eating healthy, adopting a smarter lifestyle and hitting the gym for their regular workouts.
One of these players is 33-year-old Nick Zautra. He started showing interest in poker during the early days of the poker boom. Zautra would play on his mother’s kitchen table and later switch over to online poker. He is a teacher by profession but also loves spending hours playing online poker at night.
Zautra has now shifted his attention to live tournaments, he isn’t keen on pursuing a full-time poker career as he intends to proceed with teaching and research. He will soon be travelling to Guam this fall for a teaching position, but before that, the 33-year-old took a side-trip to Vegas to take part in the world’s longest-running poker festival.
Prepare to Win With Physical Training
The 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a special one for Zautra as he designed a poker-specific workout program in time for the festival, which contains a detailed guide, tips and recommendations for players to step up their physical and mental performance during the busy summer. In developing the seven-week program, Zautra consulted with experts, including dietitian Amy Seibenmorgen, Indiana Football Athletic Performance Coach Dr Matt Rhea, and USA Powerlifting National Team Coach Greg Simmons.
The seven-week program helps players prepare themselves for the physical and cognitive demands of the long summer grind, improving their ability to be adaptable, focused, calm and resilient.
Sharing his personal experience, Zautra said exercising and working out has helped him a lot in gaining more confidence and endurance which then translates to having a better ability to make decisions. Staying fit also allows him to battle stress which usually leads to a poor performance at the table if not properly dealt with.
In constructing the course, Zautra has placed an emphasis on the mental benefits of physical training which he said not only makes poker players feel better but also enhances their overall performance. Like the game of golf, Zautra said poker players from previous decades were older and out-of-shape, compared to today where we now see younger, leaner and healthier poker players competing at the tables.
The seven-week program, which helps players stay fit and play their best during the WSOP, is Zautra’s way of giving back to the community. The former physical trainer has always wanted to offer personal training services to fellow poker players but he couldn’t seem to squeeze it into his busy schedule.
Have Fun at the WSOP
The Arizona native is a doctoral candidate in cognitive science and history & philosophy of science at Indiana University in Bloomington. Certified by the American College of Sports Medicine Zautra has also worked as a physical trainer.
Zautra is currently having a great time in Vegas and taking part in a handful of events, including the $500 NLH Big 50, with $1,147,449 on offer for the winner. Zautra managed to get into Day 3, guaranteeing him a minimum payout of $1,600.
When asked about his views on the record-breaking WSOP this year, Zautra said overall it’s been a lot of fun, though the long and winding registration line was a little daunting at first. It’s the first time he’s played in a massive live tournament. Zautra said the WSOP provides a positive environment for players where they can just have a good time playing with friends and meeting new people.
The seven week fitness program from Nick Zautra’s is available for free and poker pros should take the time to check it out and give it a try.