The links between poker and sports go all the way back to the 1950s when a young man named Doyle Brunson was courted (pun intended) by the Minneapolis Lakers. Alas, his dream of playing in the NBA was thwarted by a leg injury and Texas Dolly would go on to fuel his competitiveness through poker instead.
These days, it’s common for poker professionals to look like athletes. From Jason Koon to Alex Foxen, health-conscious poker pros practice fitness training not to pursue a career in sports, but for their own well-being and often, to improve their abilities at the poker tables.
For Twitch streamer Sebastian “peace&loove” Huber, it’s both poker and endurance sports that get him out of bed in the morning.
Huber, who became a PokerStars Team Pro after winning the Dare2Stream competition in 2021, has completed two big events so far this year: a 13.1-mile half-marathon (“I got a new personal best of one hour and 45 minutes”) and a triathlon 70.3, comprised of a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and a half-marathon, which he completed in five hours and 56 minutes.
He might be in the off-season for big events, but when he’s not grinding online poker on his Twitch stream, Huber is training. We asked him to talk us through his routines, take us out for a run, and tell us how his training impacts his poker playing.
PokerStars Blog: Hey Sebastian. What came first: poker or athletics?
Sebastian “peace&loove” Huber: In Austria, I grew up near the mountains and I was always outside with friends. That’s pretty normal in Austria. I did everything–football, golf, whatever it was. I love playing sports in general, that was my thing back then.
I first played poker in school with friends, then after I finished school I moved to Vienna and got into online poker while at university.
How has your training progressed? At one point did you decide to push it further and go for triathlons?
I always did sports because of the games. I played football because I love the game. I played golf because I love the game. It took a while for me to understand that running, cycling or other kinds of endurance sports can be fun as well.
I was probably 21 when it clicked that running is kind of cool. I registered for my first half marathon and back then I wasn’t training that well so I suffered quite a lot, but that was the start of my endurance training.
Every year I tried to be consistent and increase my training. I still do it mainly because I love doing it. There are definitely a lot of things I can improve on and I could certainly train a lot more, but the more you train the better you get to know your body. Each year your fitness is going to improve.
Poker pro Dara O’Kearney used to be an international ultra runner before switching to poker. What do you make of those distances?
I’m not that crazy yet. A marathon is cool but everything above that is pretty sick to do!
What advice would you give to anyone hoping to complete their first triathlon soon?
For me, the biggest thing was that I was really scared of my first triathlon. Most triathlons have some time limits and for most people, swimming is the biggest problem. For me, it was really important to feel comfortable while swimming as most triathlons have open-water swims. In pools it’s different, you always have a line and you don’t have to look where you’re going. So I would recommend that everyone who’s not comfortable swimming does as much open-water swimming as they can. Don’t be scared!
How do you view the links between your training and poker playing?
Both things are competitions. In poker, be it tournaments or cash games, we’re going to compete against other players. But in athletics, you’re not only competing against others, but you’re also competing against yourself, day in and day out. Every run is different, and every exercise is different. You’ve got to compete and you can learn from that a lot. You get used to having a good day and you get used to having a bad day, and how to cope with that.