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We live in a stressful world. From economic struggles to a hostile political environment, there are causes of stress everywhere. It is difficult to turn on the television or even check in on social media without being confronted with worrying subject matter, much less becoming engaged in discussions about it.

A poker game can be an ideal way to block it all out for a few hours and enjoy a relaxing game. Whether a person is new to the game and involved in learning the basics of poker or a skilled player who relishes in the intricacies of it, a session can be just the escape that a person needs to destress, lower that blood pressure, and rediscover that love of the game that brings millions of people together every day.

Organize a Politics-Free Home Game

Gather some friends for a home game and require that politics be banned from the tables. Ask that everyone help provide food and drinks to help with the setup, and carve out an evening just for poker.

If players are new to the game, it is the perfect time to teach the rules, run through practice hands, and play solely for chips and the fun of the competition. It can be the start of a regular get-together or simply a fun evening to learn a new pastime.

For those players who are experienced with home games, it may be time to get the crew together again and start a new weekly or monthly game. The time away from work and family stress is an ideal way to leave the hustle and bustle of daily life behind for a few hours and let loose with friends.

Escape to a Poker Room

Many states have casinos with poker rooms or card rooms that offer regular games. For those who live near them, it is a fantastic way to escape for a few hours. And nearly all poker rooms have low-stakes games, $1/$2 or $2/$4 Limit Hold’em for example, that don’t require a great deal of financial risk for the experience.

While most public poker room games are relatively quiet, bring headphones in case of a talkative or hostile player at the table. A person can still enjoy the core poker game without listening to the chatter. Focus on discovering opponents’ tells, watching for betting patterns, and rediscovering the beauty of the game – the cards, the chips, the flow of poker – that initiated that interest in it in the first place.

Improve Poker Skills

For a daily or weekly escape from life stresses, make a resolution to improve those poker skills. There are numerous instructional poker sites like Run It Once or Upswing Poker, there are programs that include videos and lessons that break down hands and strategies. There are also free sites associated with PokerStars and the World Poker Tour, as two examples, which present videos and other educational tools from which a player at any level can advance in their understanding of the game.

Poker Books and Shows

Whether a player wants to improve or simply discover more about the game and its players, there are always poker shows available. Some television channels offer reruns of World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker episodes – with new WPT shows airing on FOX Sports – that offer entertainment and an escape to a world where only cards and chips matter.

There are also a plethora of poker books on the market. The majority of them offer the chance to improve poker skills, but there are others that simply relay the joys of the game. Positively Fifth Street by James McManus is one of the classics, as is The Biggest Game in Town by Al Alvarez. For Richer For Poorer by Victoria Coren is a great read, and there are also numerous autobiographies or semi-autobiographical books about players that include Doyle Brunson, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, and Stu Ungar. And Mike Sexton’s new book Life’s a Gamble is making the rounds these days.

Discover Poker on Twitch

Twitch is all the rage these days and for good reason. Numerous poker players of every level have launched Twitch streams to show their online poker experiences. There is no cost to tune in to most channels, and a person can tune in or out as time allows.

One of the most popular poker channels to get started with is Jason Somerville’s Run It Up! channel, which runs nearly every day with new games. Viewers can just watch or choose to also participate in the chat with the host and other members of the viewing audience. It is a great way to learn more about poker while reinvigorating a person’s love for the game. Search for poker from the Twitch main page to find a wide array of games, hosts, and interesting content at any time of the day or night.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.