Poker Players Take Performance-Enhancing Substances
Other substances ingested by players in order to succeed at the highest levels included caffeine, energy drinks, marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. August 21st, , 3: Could some of you guys let me know how you normally obtain this? I have a few friends that play decent poker on weed. For thoroughness and amusement, I also studied a lot of the grayer areas in mental enhancement, from the mystical to the all-natural techniques.
The Military studies found similar results for extending alertness during combat missions. These experiments started to be published in mainstream media sources, such as the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, even some science and medical journals — enough to make me take the findings more seriously.
Many of the messages posted by students using Modafinil felt that they needed to continue with it, just to keep pace. Their feeling was that the competitive disadvantage without it was too severe, especially when competing with others who were using the drug in classes graded on a bell-curve.
My curiosity was stimulated, to say the least. Getting my hands on Modafinil proved to be a simple matter, and I procured a supply of mg doses. The pills are white and tasteless, with only the fear of the unknown causing any hesitation in ingesting one. As I discovered in my research, the effects of the drug would not be noticeable for at least a half-hour, so I made myself a breakfast burrito and played a few orbits, anxious to see what would happen. It was not a wholesale change in outlook or any physical sensation.
What I noticed was that suddenly the low-limit game held my total interest, despite the stakes and the fact it was only one table. I looked at the time on the bottom-right of my computer, and was surprised to learn that ninety minutes had already passed, unnoticed because of my acute focus on the players in the game. My burrito had only been half-eaten, which I forgot about, as it did not interest me as much as focusing on player tendencies.
I poured as much interest and analysis in the game as much as if I were playing for the highest stakes. My note taking was long and detailed.
My ability to notice multi-player combination plays as they occurred in real-time was unmistakably improved. Though I do not want to endorse any meta-physical abilities, I did feel a sense of displaced time, where I had such high concentration on what players were like and what they were going to do in the game that it did feel a bit like predicting the immediate future with great accuracy.
I very rarely had time when I did not know what I was going to do almost instantaneously, never feeling like a situation required some more time for thought. Conscious that this type of feeling and fast-play also occurs when drunk or NOT thinking straight, I had some concerns that Modafinil might be adversely affecting my game, but the distinct difference was that I was able to truly calculate the variables and run it through many logical gates as I normally would, and could not do under the influence of alcohol.
It was as though time was either expanded, or the units of thought I was able to generate per unit of time was greatly compressed within the same frame. The next logical step was capacity testing.
I added other tables one at a time, lingering on the newly added variables until I felt I had a good read on the players and game, which usually took about 30 minutes or so, while still involved with my previous tables. My increased attention to detail allowed me to reliably track player movements on all tables, most importantly when new players came into any game. By this slow growing process, I felt the ability to scale attention to over 50 simultaneous players, with perhaps the capacity for more as my experience in this situation grew.
I did stick to full tables only at first, so that the action points occurred a bit more slowly and the pacing on the tables were similar. The numbers I generated as my results for this arrangement, though still preliminary, seems to confirm that my per hour results are very close to scaling 1: Finally there is the durability question.
Normally, when playing live poker or online games, my limit for one continuous session without a significant i. I used to be able to go much longer when I first started out, but over time, either age or general loss of passion for the game has reduced my single-session sit time. I just find myself wondering about what is happening outside, thinking about other things like books or movies, or just start to feel restless that I have spent so much time sitting and not really creating anything of use one of my dislikes about the poker life.
When playing 3 tables simultaneously for high stakes, my limit usually topped out at hours before growing tired or bored. As I noted in my first experiment with Modafinil, I became so tunneled in to what I was doing, concentrating so hard on doing it well, that in fact I loss track of time quite easily, even forgetting to eat or acknowledge hunger, though I did feel it.
The first hint I had indicating how long I had been going without a break was when I noticed the sun going down and the need to turn on artificial lights.
I was so enthralled with what was happening that there was nothing I wanted to do more than continue the experiment, and thus my mind did not wander, did not start to think that life outside was much more interesting like it usually does. I ended up going a full 14 hours on six tables before stopping, with just a few pee breaks and enough time to make and eat a sandwich somewhere in the mix.
Even after stopping, I did not feel exhausted or spent, but rather interested in doing more activities to see how Modafinil might be affecting my senses.
I never yawned once or found myself lacking focus. As the final test, I showered, got into bed, and picked up my reading from a book on the Riemann Hypothesis.
I expected to have the eyelid-jitters, where I would basically pass out or find myself reading the same sentence over and over while my lids tried to shut. After two full chapters with very acceptable understanding amazed , and hitting the 24 hour mark of being awake, I made the conscious decision to stop and see if I could fall asleep. Though it was again daylight, after putting the book down and settling in, I fell asleep within minutes.
One final effect is the amount of sleep needed after taking Modafinil. As I am lucky enough not to have needed to set my alarm clock, I planned to sleep in as long as my body wanted. I found myself naturally waking after only 5 hours of sleep, completely alert and ready to get up, when normally I require 7 hours, and maybe more after being up 24 straight. I did not have this feeling at all, but felt very refreshed and eager to get moving, like a child would be for a family trip to Disneyland that day.
This was the last surprise of my experiment with Modafinil. In prolonged sessions of continuously taking Modafinil, I found the cycle of 19 sharp, effective hours followed by 5 hours of sleep to be sustainable, seemingly without end.
Even deep into the continuous experiment, I did not feel the drag of missing sleep catching up with me. Summary of relevant experience: Though you can go to sleep at your normal time without the drug interfering, you can also continue doing vigorous mental activities for longer if you just do it.
Decreased dosage, say half a pill mg , seems to effect both alertness levels and working time, giving just a minor boost in concentration, and still allows drowsiness late in the day. The maximum time I personally used it for was 12 days in a row, each day finding the need for sleep slightly decreasing from 5 hours at the beginning to about 4 towards the end. Concentration and alertness levels seemed to stay at its high level, though you get used to it and might discount its effects after days.
It is most noticeable the days after discontinued usage, where once again I felt sleepy after big meals and found myself surfing websites instead of fully concentrating on my online games after stoppage of use. It may have slight sexual side-effects, not effecting interest but performance. It makes sex a more cerebral experience, where you are studying the situation instead of just enjoying it at a primal level like you should.
It did not effect arousal or cause dysfunction. If anything, it makes one last longer, because you experience sex in a different manner, somewhat clinically. However, I can easily see why it might cause a psychological dependency, as it is both very useful and enjoyable to have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of mental energy. If you are one who dreads wasting time due to tiredness, or just hate it when you do not feel your sharpest, Modafinil provides an easy solution to this - and perhaps a long-term danger of addiction.
You do not really feel euphoria or tingling or any overt sensation. You notice its effect when you focus on something and concentrate, where it allows you to do so effortlessly. You can still get quite bored under its influence if you are stuck in an activity that is mundane. I worry too much about the extreme decrease in sleep and the unknown long-term effects it might have on my mind.
I do use it on rare occasions, but do not do so for more than a single day, and poker is usually not the reason. My poker sessions with Modafinil did decrease over time, not because of the usual mental tiredness from playing, but because the newness of the experience of poker under Modafinil wore off, and my general boredom with poker would creep back in. However even if I quit poker early, I still felt like I wanted mental activity of some sort, instead of a usual nap.
If I willed myself to do it, I could easily play 14 hour sessions of poker as before, with my new multi-table maximum, and did so on many occasions. My conclusions have been very surprising to me. Modafinil is the first drug I have found to be truly effective in increasing the ability to play poker, in fact effective in all mental activities. But again I should emphasize that it will not turn a dim-witted player into an insightful one, though I do believe that it would aid an enthusiastic student of the game in picking up subtleties and nuances of the game more rapidly.
Where these attributes of Modafinil would be most useful in poker are obvious. As already noted, it also increases this personal maximum to a level that I found impossible to achieve without the drug. Though I am only one data point, the scaling and efficiency results for me personally have be so significantly increased that I find it hard to imagine that I am experiencing outlier results, but rather it is easier for me to conclude that the effects from Modafinil are very real.
Where I think Modafinil might even be more effective in the realm of poker is in long, multi-day tournaments with the brutal, extended hours of play per day. One of the obvious main differences between tournament and ring play is the inability to dictate your playing hours in the former. Besides the designated breaks and meals, a tournament player has little choice about choosing whether to play on, even if he knows he has long lost his peak mental performance.
If the day requires sixteen hours of play, those players who can sustain their best play for the greatest amount of time within that sixteen have a significant advantage over those that peak and crash after 8, 10, or 12 hours. Extending this thought, if we look at a super tournament like the Championship WSOP event which will take 5 or more stress filled days to complete, and has an abnormally large chance of causing sleeplessness and exhaustion as the days progress, a player that requires less sleep in order to feel completely rested, and benefiting from a state of heightened awareness in his waking hours even with this shortened rest, will again have a tremendous advantage.
My experiments with Modafinil seems to provide a very practical and effective solution to this problem, more effective than I would have thought possible without it already being a mainstream staple in poker or any other mental activity.
I would not be surprised if at least a small portion of players have already found this solution, and have incorporated Modafinil into their regular routines, as its results for me personally have been so profound, bordering upon my expectations of science fiction. That brings me to the reasons for writing this article.
Poker is about gaining and exploiting edges against your opponents. Modafinil is the first artificial stimulant that I have found that alters this landscape by giving a player the ability to perform longer mentally and at a more concentrated level than what one can achieve normally.
Modafinil not only helps in gathering knowledge with a sharp, observational outlook, but also in applying your intellect without normal taxation. If you are already an analytical sort of person, it also helps to contain the emotional destructiveness of tilting, as one can focus beyond the immediate result and concentrate on the overall plan.
I actually debated for quite a long time before deciding to write about this topic. Selfishly, I know that not disclosing this personal discovery could greatly aid me in playing the game and benefiting from the edge, an edge sustainable only if others are kept in the dark. Ethically, I feel it is still a gray area. The reason I finally decided to write about Modafinil is that I think this drug and those like it to follow are going to alter the landscape of thought games, and, if Modafinil is just a precursor for what is to come, will eventually become mainstream in the relatively near future.
My not writing about it now might only delay the spread of it by a tiny fraction of time, if it affects the spread of it at all. We might be in that similar time period for mental performance enhancers, and the ethical questions it will generate.
I think Modafinil represents the first breakthrough drug for mental competition, with perhaps more refined and effective substances on the horizon. I believe that, if not during the WSOP, by , Modafinil and drugs similar to it will play a role in the play of the games, and we as a community should open the dialogue now. Provigil and its generic name Modafinil is a prescription drug.
Like all prescription drugs, a trained and licensed physician should be consulted before using Provigil or Modafinil. The effects I described in this article are my personal experiences only, and should not be taken as an endorsement to take this drug. Read the entire poker player drug use study. Players getting catched using em to enhance their play should be banned. Ask Stu Ungar what happens if u use drugs.
Ah, sorry, Stu is dead. The WSOP tournament rules do not loose a single word about the abuse of drugs to get an advantage for your play.
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