Diet and Poker: Are Your Food Choices Affecting Your Poker Game?

Have you ever wondered if the food choices you make have an impact on your poker game? It is widely known that diet affects physical performance, but can it also affect mental performance? 

It turns out that what we eat and drink profoundly affects our ability to focus, concentrate, and think strategically while playing poker. For example, some foods can boost alertness and concentration levels, while others can lead to feelings of sluggishness or lethargy. 

In addition, certain drinks can give players a much-needed energy boost, whereas other beverages could leave them feeling drowsy or unmotivated. 

In this article, we’ll explore how you can optimize your diet and eating habits to maximize your poker performance. We’ll discuss the different foods and drinks you should avoid and why, as well as the best types of food and beverages that can give you the edge during your sessions. 

What Types of Food Should You Prioritize to Boost Your Poker Game?

Food is not merely fuel for the body. When eaten in the right way, it can be used to optimize your poker game as well. Here are the types of food you should prioritize for maximum performance:

Complex Carbohydrates 

Whether a beginner or a seasoned player, winning at the poker table is no easy feat. However, did you know that incorporating complex carbohydrates into your diet may give you the competitive edge you need? 

Complex carbohydrates, such as quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, provide a steady flow of energy to your brain, helping you stay sharp and focused during long hours of play. By avoiding simple carbs that come with sugar crashes, you’ll maintain a consistent level of mental acuity, allowing you to make better decisions and outmaneuver your opponents. 

Incorporating complex carbs into your diet may just be the secret weapon you need to start dominating the game and even the playing field.


Protein is an essential nutrient for maintaining a healthy body, but did you know it could also help you up your poker game? Playing poker can be mentally exhausting as a competitive activity requiring quick thinking, sharp focus, and strategic decision-making. 

However, incorporating protein-rich foods into your diet can help enhance your ability to remain mentally alert and focused. Furthermore, the amino acids in protein are also known to help alleviate anxiety, which translates to better tilt management when playing. 

So, if you want to keep your head in the game and stay on top of your opponents, don’t forget to add some protein-heavy meals to your diet. Popular choices include lean red meats, fish, and eggs. 


Believe it or not, adding some fats to your diet could be just the boost you need. While it may seem counterintuitive, eating certain fats can improve cognitive function and boost energy levels, both of which are crucial for success at the poker table. 

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like salmon, tuna, and walnuts, have been shown to enhance memory and improve reaction time, while monounsaturated fats, found in foods like avocados and olive oil, can increase focus and concentration. 

Incorporating this into your diet can help improve your decision-making ability and give you the edge you need. 

Fruits and Vegetables 

Fruits and vegetables are an integral part of any healthy diet, but they can also be beneficial when it comes to playing poker. 

These foods contain various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide energy for long hours of play and help protect our bodies from free radicals or compounds that can cause damage to cells if left unchecked. 

And since studies have suggested that oxidative stress can impair mental performance, loading up on fruits and veggies may be the key to better focus and concentration while at the tables. 


Staying hydrated may sound like a no-brainer, but many players forget how important it is to stay hydrated both at the tables and outside of them. Water can help increase mental alertness and improve cognitive performance.  

Not to mention, drinking water can help regulate your mood and prevent fatigue, two factors that can significantly affect your performance at the table. So, consider bringing a water bottle or two next time you go to a game. It could be the secret weapon you need to take home the pot.

What Food Should You Avoid?

Now that you know what kinds of food you should be eating, it’s important to know what food you should avoid. 

High in Sugar

As any professional poker player will tell you, maintaining a clear and focused mind during the game is crucial to success. One of the easiest ways to disrupt your mental clarity and sabotage your performance is consuming foods high in sugar. 

While it may be tempting to snack on sugary treats during a long poker session, the spike in blood sugar levels can lead to a crash that leaves you tired, unfocused, and irritable. Indulging in sugary foods can be just as damaging to your game as any misstep or misplay. 

Next time you sit at the poker table, consider eating wholesome snacks like fresh fruit or protein bars to give you sustained energy and support your mental acuity. 

Greasy and Processed Food

When you play poker, the last thing you want is to feel sluggish and weighed down by your food choices. That’s why avoiding greasy and processed foods is a smart move. These foods can cause bloating and make you feel lethargic, which is not ideal when you must be alert and focused at the poker table. 

If you can, opt out of ordering from the drive-thru or grabbing a bag of chips and reach for something nutritious and energizing instead. 


Finally, it’s important to note that alcohol should be avoided while playing poker. Alcohol can impair your judgment and decision-making ability, two vital elements of succeeding at the table. And since alcohol is known to cause dehydration, it can also sap your energy levels and reduce alertness, making it harder to stay on top of things. 

Furthermore, alcohol impairs cognitive performance, so avoiding drinking while playing poker is best to maximize your winnings. 

Final Tip: Make a Plan

Integrating all these while playing poker can be difficult, so making a plan is essential. Figure out what snacks you’ll bring to the table, when you’ll eat them, and how much water you’ll need to stay hydrated throughout the game. 

Every player has different needs, so figure out what works best for you and stick with it. Doing this will ensure you remain energized and focused while playing poker

By following these tips and making smart choices regarding diet, any poker player can ensure they are performing their best at the tables. Remember, eating right may just be the poker strategy you need to improve your game and ensure victory!