I spent some time in Canada this spring trying to get in some relaxation time. I've been playing a lot online, but also trying to take breaks, too, to keep myself alert and focused.
One thing I like to do when not playing is to watch various television series like House of Cards, Vikings, or Survivor. I read a lot, also. I tend to enjoy fantasy books like the Game of Thrones series which kind of provide an escape, something completely disconnected from regular life which I find relaxing.
Sometimes with certain TV series I'll grind through them like a long poker session. I remember once watching about 30 hours of Lost in a row one time, if you can believe that.
In fact, I'm remembering my friend Fredrik "HALLINGGOL" Halling and I once watching the second season of 24 together. That series was set up so that a season lasted exactly 24 hours in real time, and it started at 3 a.m. So we started it at 3 a.m. and actually watched it straight through so we could have the correct nighttime/daylight atmosphere from start to finish.
I know some people think if a show is good they can only watch one episode at a time, but I don't think that way. It's partly a generational thing, probably -- a little like with online poker and newer players being able to multi-table and grind long sessions as opposed to older ones who are more comfortable playing one table and for shorter periods.
Of course, the TV business has changed a lot, with shows being produced like movies and becoming a lot more absorbing and with top-level actors. Much as online poker changed the way people approach the game, so, too, has TV changed in a way that is training viewers differently and causing them to watch shows differently.
I also sometimes like to play video games like Starcraft or Dota 2, which again provide kind of an escape and allow me to relax my mind. Often when I end a poker session, before I go to bed I'll play a game for a while or watch a TV show as a kind of transition between poker and going to sleep. Doing that lets me wind down and makes it easier to rest.
Besides reading, watching TV, and playing video games, I'm also working out more. I'm using an elliptical machine, and I'm thinking of getting back into mixed martial arts this fall. Years ago I had no trouble remaining focused while playing even if I was tired or even sick, because it didn't seem to cost me a lot of energy to play. But now I find I need remain physically active to help me stay focused at the tables. Eating well is also obviously important, too, when it comes to one's physical health.
So that's what I'm up to these days -- playing a lot, but also filling up those hours away from the table staying mentally fit with shows, books, and games, and physically fit with exercise and a good diet.
Lex Veldhuis is a member of Team PokerStars Pro