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A top feature of online poker is that it’s always available. However, your brain might not always be ready to play. Mental endurance or stamina allows you to keep playing, even if you’re not ready to advance to the next level of difficulty. Mental endurance not only helps you enjoy longer playing sessions, but it also helps steady your mind in high-pressure situations. Here are some key steps for you to follow in order to build mental endurance and win more money playing poker.

Take Small Steps

Extending your playing time is to your brain like bench pressing is to your arms. If you can handle 60 minutes or 60 pounds now, trying for 120 tomorrow might be too much. Trying too much all at once is a surefire way to burn your mental energy and exhaust yourself. You’ll also need more time to recover if you suddenly increase your playing time by a large amount. It’s better to take small steps and gradually get to where you want to be.

Taking small, incremental steps is a smarter approach. Aim for a 10 to 20 percent increase in playing time on a month-to-month basis. If you played 50 hours in March, aim for 55 in April. If that works out well, add another 10 percent in May. If you’re easily meeting your goals and thinking clearly, you could add 15 percent in June. After three or four months of increases, it’s a good idea to give yourself a maintenance phase. If you reach 70 hours per month by July, keep it there for a few months. You’ll solidify your gains and give your mind and body a chance to stabilize.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Keeping track of your poker progress is a good visual reminder of where you have been and where you are going. It also demonstrates how you are building your mental endurance. Use an app or spreadsheet to track your target volume, actual volume and tables per day. Be sure to add notes about the mental intensity of your gaming sessions.

When you look back and review your stats, your notes will help you make sense of the big picture. You’ll likely play fewer tables during a high-intensity session because it produces mental fatigue at a faster speed than a low-intensity match. On the days you don’t meet your goal, make a note of why. Perhaps you were feeling under the weather, or maybe a friend dropped in to see you. Examine your trends every couple of weeks, and see what’s holding you back from reaching your goals. Make corrections in order to boost your endurance.

Give Yourself a Break

You can’t constantly push yourself to the max and expect anything good to come of it. You need and deserve rest. Give yourself at least one day off every week. After a particularly intense table, give yourself a day off. The same is true if something else in your life causes you to experience mental clutter. If you have an unsettling argument with a loved one, get the clutter out of your mind before you return to the poker tables. You can also build mental endurance by mastering your C-game.