Stress Less For Poker Success – Is Stress Holding You Back?

I’m going to be completely honest with you. The ingredient I’m about to tell you about doesn’t have near the amount of clinical evidence supporting its use as Rhodiola does. In fact, I’d say it has little evidence supporting it. That’s precisely why it took 4 years of convincing from one of my good friends before I even tried it. What it lacks in clinical evidence, it makes up for in real-world feedback.

I credit Bacopa monniera for single-handedly changing my primary principle from which my professional reputation was built upon. Prior to Bacopa, my mantra was “Nutraceuticals that are strongly supported by clinical evidence.” I was damn tired of being fooled by the marketing of these dietary supplement companies. I was not going to have my reputation hurt by those very same companies. Thus, I went to the medical journals for evidence. If the medical journals supported a nutraceutical, then I was comfortable recommending it. My world was quickly turned upside down.

Then Bacopa came along. So little clinical evidence. So much real-world feedback. What was I do to? I bit the bullet, and tried it. Let’s just say my new mantra is “Nutraceutials supported by clinical evidence AND real-world feedback.” I quickly learned that if I waited for every nutraceutical to have a large amount of clinical evidence supporting its use, I’d be 10 years behind the innovators. Innovation along with documentation is now the key to my success. I may look like a renegade practitioner to some traditional medical professionals, however I’m light years ahead of them. When they say renegade, I say innovator.

Bacopa monniera

What is it?

Also known as Brahmi, has been used for several hundred years in Ayurvedic medicine. Typically grown in India and the tropics, its primary benefits all involve the brain.

Improved memory

Improved learning

Improved concentration

Decreased anxiety

Antioxidant properties

Like all herbals, it contains multiple compounds that are responsible for its beneficial effects. The two that are important to its cognitive-enhancing abilities are bacosides A and B. Thus, that will be your “alcohol proof” for Bacopa.

How it works?

Once again like most herbals, there are multiple theories on how Bacopa improves mental performance. They include:

Enhancing nerve impulse transmission

Helping repair damaged neurons through multiple mechanisms

Antioxidant activity in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and striatum

Thus, there’s really not just one way Bacopa works. It has an entire arsenal of cognitive-enhancing weapons.


When using an extract, the typical dosage is 200-400mg in divided doses standardized to 20% A and B bacosides. I personally use 200-400mg standardized to 50% A and B bacosides. Because of the lack of clinical evidence supporting its use, I feel there’s an unknown as to exactly what the best dosage is. I had to tinker with my dosage until I found what I felt was right for me. I suggest you do the same. The above is a good starting dosage.

Why I like it for poker

Unlike Rhodiola which can be used in acute situations, Bacopa can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks to see the benefits. In fact, the studies that I read, the average time it took to see the benefits was around 6 weeks. Thus, I use it year-round. Over the long haul, it helps to minimize my every day “normal” stress. When things get particularly stressful, I’ll add Rhodiola anywhere from 1-3 weeks. I’ve found using Bacopa year round and adding Rhodiola every once in the while works the best for me. There’s a synergy between the two.

Most poker players play on-line almost every day or every couple of days, while participating in major tournaments once or twice a month. Using Bacopa every day combats the stress of the nightly games, while adding Rhodiola for a week during the tournament is particularly helpful. It’s very convenient for poker players.

Secondly, not only does it help with stress, but it also has cognitive-enhancing capabilities. I’m sure you’ve already noticed that the majority of what I’ve recommend thus far always has cognitive-enhancing effects. I’m always looking for the most efficient nutracueticals available. If I can kill two birds with one stone, GREAT. Bacopa and Rhodiola both fit this profile. I always look at everything from a mental standpoint. Will this nutraceutical improve my mental performance? Mental performance is of paramount importance to me as it is to you also.

I firmly believe that the best poker players in the world are masters of their emotions. Success at the poker table is largely the sum of checking your ego at the door, minimizing mental fatigue, and controlling your emotions. If you can control those three things, you will quickly separate yourself from the pack.

When I look back over my last 10 or so losses, the other guy never really flat out beat me. I almost always beat myself. Probably 7 out of 10 times. Either my ego made the wrong call, I was mentally drained and made a stupid mistake, or I made an emotional, not rational move. Stupid mistakes that will always hold me back from reaching my true potential. Memorizing the odds, the strategy, and the player’s trends is relatively easy for me. However, playing rational, checking my ego at the door, and following my head not my heart is so tough.

That’s why I believe nutraceuticals can have a major impact on your game. They may not be able to check your ego at the door, but I know they’ll improve your mental energy and cognitive abilities while also minimize the stress, anxiety, and pressure associated with poker. When I’m stressed or anxious, I’m emotional. Rationality and everything else I learned about the game of poker goes out the door.

Finding that critical balance between relaxation and stimulation is the key. Like the reader pointed out in the first e-mail I posted, in poker over-stimulation is just as bad as mental fatigue. It’s finding that sweet spot, that exact feeling where you’re so relaxed, yet so focused. That’s the zone. That’s minimizing stress and anxiety while improving mental energy. That’s the goal for my nootropic regimen.

There you go. Read it over. Do a search for Bacopa on the internet, and let me know what you think. I’ll post the small amount of studies I have later tonight. Like I said, the real-world feedback trumps the clinical evidence for this ingredient. Good luck and may the cards fall your way.