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5 useful minutes: what to do during the tournament break

Make the most of your tournament breaks with expert advice from poker coach Francois "Frank" Amel. Learn how to use those five-minute intervals productively by relaxing your mind, changing your physical state, and tying up loose ends. Discover the ideal break structure to ensure a smooth transition back into the game and maximize your performance at the tables.

Every player utilizes the classic MTT break differently, but not always productively. Francois “Frank” Amel, a coach from the BBZ Poker training site, recognizes this and offers valuable advice on how to maximize the benefits of those five-minute intervals.

Why are Tournament Breaks Important?

While attending to basic needs like using the restroom or grabbing a snack is necessary during breaks, there’s potential to use the remaining time for more beneficial activities.

Before proceeding, take a moment for self-reflection:

  • What do you typically do during breaks?
  • Do you choose activities based on how you feel or follow a set plan?

Think beyond standard hygiene and calorie-intake routines. Remember, there are no wrong answers here. The key, according to Amel, is to actively utilize breaks. He finds that remaining at the computer, even if for non-poker activities like watching videos or scrolling through social media, makes the following hour of play more difficult.

The problem with distractions is their potential to bleed into the game session. A captivating video might extend beyond the break, or a news snippet could occupy your thoughts, affecting your decision-making process.

To avoid these negative impacts, Frank recommends spending breaks away from your computer and offers three key tips:

Tip #1: Relax Your Mind

The simplest way to achieve this is by stepping outside, onto a balcony, or near an open window. Leave your phone and headphones behind. Take a walk or simply breathe deeply. If you have the full five minutes, consider meditation.

Imagine a rough first hour where you’ve been dealt bad beats. Meditation can help you remember that it’s just the beginning, and you have ample time to turn things around.

Use meditation to process any concerns and start the next hour with a clear mind.

Tip #2: Change Your Physical State

Maintaining a sharp mind and focus throughout the game requires occasional physical activity. Five minutes may not seem like much, but there are effective ways to improve blood flow and stretch your muscles.

  • Take a quick lukewarm shower: Avoid extremes of hot or cold, as the former can be physically jarring, and the latter may make you lose focus.
  • Engage in short bursts of exercise: Jumping jacks are a simple and effective option.
  • Dance: Move around the room, engaging your entire body.
  • Stretch: Gently stretch while standing or sitting, avoiding any sudden movements.

Tip #3: Tie Up Loose Ends (But Be Cautious!)

If you have a couple of minutes remaining, use them to complete small but essential tasks. For example, finalize notes on opponents or check Sharkscope for relevant information.

However, it’s still best to avoid staying at the computer. Consider using your phone to research while walking around your living space.

The Ideal Break Structure

Aim for a sequence of feelings → actions → bodily sensations → thoughts. Address how you feel, what needs doing, your physical sensations, and any concerns. This “blitz format” helps ensure a smooth transition back into the game.