Poker Study shows Dietary Supplements used to play Better

Posted on by RTR Rachel

Think dietary supplements are only used by athletes to improve performance? Well you might be surprised to know that online poker players are also using dietary supplements to improve their game too.

The study, which was conducted at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, sought to find out what substances poker players were using to increase their neurocognitive functions at the poker tables. Neuroenhancing substances (includes caffeine and dietary supplements) have been used for years by scientists, classroom students, and public speakers to increase concentration and calm nerves. But few such studies have focused on the relationship between internet poker players and neuroenhancers.

Researchers conducting the study asked players to answer 38 questions about what substances they use prior to playing. 198 players finished the study, including 59% from the US, 24% from Canada and 11% from Europe. The study group also broke down into 37% amateur players, 35% semi-professionals, 25% professionals and 3% free poker players.

One of the most interesting results of the study is that 46% of the players used a dietary supplement to improve playing performance. Out of the dietary supplements used, vitamin B12 was the most common (30%), followed by guarana (23%), ginko biloba (8%), Ephedra (7%), Panax ginseng (7%), fish oil (3%) and Melatonin (3%). The top reasons why players chose to use these dietary supplements include: concentration (73%), calm nerves (11%), keep awake (11%), improve memory (2%) and other (3%).

Aside from the dietary supplement use, one of the most shocking finds of the study was that 28% of the players use prescription medication to improve their performance. Out of these players, 62% were using amphetamines, 20% were using benzodiazepines, and both hydrocodone and methylphenidate were used by an equal 18% of the poker-playing population. What’s bad is that only 38% of these people where getting the medication from a physician!

The final set of results worth discussing are the substances included in the “other” category. 80% of the players surveyed were using other substances to improve performance like caffeine (71%), energy drinks (51%), marijuana (34%), alcohol (34%) and sports drinks (25%). Although not required to, many players chose to write comments professing the benefits of smoking weed and playing poker such as the following insight – “I am a tilt monkey, then I smoke weed. I then stop being a tilt monkey.”

When looking at both the legal and illegal substances used by the test takers, there’s no doubt that a large number of players consider certain substances to be crucial to their playing success.

Tip of the Day: While using caffeine and energy drinks may help players stay alert and focused, using these substances to over-extend a playing session is a bad idea. After all, if you play more hours than you’re mentally capable of handling, you will make more mistakes regardless of what you are using. Plus it’s just unhealthy to rely on such substances for every poker session.

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