The Body & Brain Optimization Strategies Of A Professional Poker Player: Brain Biohacking, Ketosis, Sleep, Jet Lag, Travel Fitness Tips & More With Jason Koon & Lucas Aoun.

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Biohacking, Brain, Podcast

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My friend and today's podcast guest Jason Koon is a professional poker player. As of August 2021, he is the 10th highest earner in history, with nearly $32,000,000 in winnings. 

Originally from West Virginia, Jason Koon was raised outdoors, spending much of his childhood fishing, hunting, and playing sports. Jason Koon attended West Virginia Wesleyan College on a track scholarship where he competed as a sprinter. He would go on to graduate with a finance undergraduate degree, as well as an M.B.A.

Jason Koon found poker in college after suffering a severe hip injury. Within months, he was winning money by simply playing on the internet. By the time Jason finished university, he was winning at high-stakes poker games online. After taking a finance job in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jason almost immediately quit and decided to give playing poker for a living a chance.

Jason lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife Bianca and his newborn son Calum.

After you listen in to the discussion with me and Jason, you'll then get a bonus goodie: a guest lecture by my friend Lucas Aoun, designer of the Nootropics Masterclass, 30 Days To Higher Testosterone, and Optimizing Sleep Masterclass, and previous guest on this podcast. (Save 10% on Lucas's nootropics courses with code BENG10.)

Lucas is also the author of the popular article Hair, Hormones, Icing Your Balls & 6 Other Little-Known Strategies To Boost Testosterone, Balance Your Hormones & Reclaim Your Rightful Man & Womanhood. In the second half of this special two-part podcast, Lucas discusses how nootropics work, nootropics for optimal brain functioning, how professional poker players can benefit from specific nootropic compounds, and more.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-How Jason Koon is preparing for a second wind as a sprinter…08:15

  • He seriously injured his hip in college as a sprinter; started playing poker in 2005
  • Was challenged by people within the poker community to run 100m under 11 sec.
  • Recovery-based training; much better nutrition than while in college
  • Deep tissue massage 2~3 times a week
  • Sauna and cold plunge every day
  • 40-minute warmup, 2 minutes of 90% exertion
  • The Quick And The Dead by Pavel Tsatsouline

-The mental and physical grind of becoming and remaining an elite poker player…14:45

  • Earned the freedom to be more selective with how energy is expended
  • Best players are Chinese entrepreneurs who play at very high stakes ($4 million hands)
  • Not uncommon to play over 24 consecutive hours with a high roller who's good at losing
  • Sleep deprivation; smoke in your face; whatever the rich guy wants to do
  • Jason plays his best poker while fasted, sipping bone broth and MCT oil, in ketosis
  • AI is used to study and practice the craft

-How to excel at poker without getting into the trap of gambling…21:45

  • Two types of games: cash and tournaments
  • Ben will play, win a few bucks, and walk away
  • Jason hates gambling, even though he's a professional poker player

-Foods and/or supplements Jason Koon uses to perform at a very high level…25:40


-Nootropics and smart drugs that assist with focus…35:30

-Managing bright lights at night and the circadian rhythm with a career that requires odd hours…41:08

-How to deal with toxins in a casino environment…49:40

  • Be in steam for a really long time
  • Intense sweat or steam shower

-How to stay in shape while traveling…51:15

-Meditation and keeping the mental game optimized…54:50

  • A reactive mind doesn't work well in the world of poker
  • Must let go of things you can't control
  • Mini-meditations at the table
  • Don't make plays out of fear of losing

-The growing awareness of health and biohacking within the poker world…56:30

  • A massive fitness movement is just starting in the poker community

-Specific nootropics for optimal brain function with special guest Lucas Aoun…1:02:47

-Nootropics defined and how they work…1:03:15

  • Works through a variety of mechanisms in the brain
    • Increases and modulates neurotransmitter release
    • Modulating neurotransmitter receptor sites
    • Modulating neurotransmitter enzymes
    • Reduce oxidative stress
    • Act as a precursor to various neurotransmitters

-Executive functions and cognitive domains required by pro poker players…1:06:55

  • Greater emotional control is beneficial under extreme stress
  • Rational vs. emotional decisions
  • Good tolerance for financial risk
  • Emotional intelligence and body language
  • Improving working memory
  • Have a good degree of forward-thinking

-Nootropics that may be useful for professional poker players…1:14:40

-And much more!

Upcoming Events:

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Jason Koon:

– Lucas Aoun:

– Podcasts And Articles:

– Books:

– Gear:

– Food, Supplements, And Nootropics:

– Other Resources:

Episode sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Jason or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!


Ask Ben a Podcast Question


6 thoughts on “The Body & Brain Optimization Strategies Of A Professional Poker Player: Brain Biohacking, Ketosis, Sleep, Jet Lag, Travel Fitness Tips & More With Jason Koon & Lucas Aoun.

  1. TK Yeo says:

    Ben, I thought it was a great idea to interview him. But I was hoping to hear more from Jason about the flow state of the poker player. It’s a high stakes game and the interview didn’t delve enough into that aspect. Maybe one day, they can run tests on the brain as they’re playing. I wish he had spoken a bit more instead of it being more of a prescription for what he should try ie refer to the list above. More curiosity about what makes poker players tick. It is relevant because we’re not all the same.

    Second point is hearing this on Spotify, I had no idea who was speaking after the interview ie Lucas Aoun. That was definitely helpful to rounding up the discussion but he came in really abruptly. A short audio intro would help since he’s not mentioned in the Spotify summary. We’re relying on you to guide us. Thanks.

  2. tessa says:

    QUALIA B6 daily dose too high – Easy intoxication with B6

    After I bought The mind formula (without caffeine), I noticed the daily doses of vitamin B6 of 25 mg daily.
    I wouldn’t have bought this supplement because, in the past, I encountered a B6 intoxication after regular use of a low dose of B6.
    I was baffled because I considered all water-soluble vitamins safe.
    I learned that the t1/2 – half-life time of B6 is ten days.
    Adults need 1,5-1,8 mg per day.
    I got an intoxication by using Ester-C packages during the summer. I used a lower dose than Qualia mind.

    Even a break of 2 days doesn’t take care of the risk of stacking.

    A Dutch Pharmaceutical Institute states:
    The mechanism of development of pyridoxine-induced polyneuropathy has not (yet) been fully elucidated. There is evidence that pyridoxine is directly toxic to ganglia (particularly radix dorsalis (the dorsal root of the spinal cord)). [poi2,sch] Possibly, peripheral sensory nerve cells are especially vulnerable to circulating pyridoxine because of the permeability of adjacent blood vessels. Central nerve cells are better protected from this by the blood-brain barrier and a saturable transport of pyridoxine to the central nervous system. [gol,sch]

    Doses of pyridoxine starting at 25 mg/day, [kru] 50 mg/day, [inf] 75 mg/day [poi2] or 200 mg/day [gol] for months or years may could already lead to neurotoxicity. [inf,poi2,gol]

    Examples of conditions for higher risk of stacking
    There is still a higher chance of building B6 levels when you are deficient in other B vitamins. In particular, vitamin B12. That’s because these vitamins work closely together, and vitamin B6 can only convert to its active form with the help of other B vitamins.
    Liver deficiencies
    Many foods and drinks contain B6 – add that to the Qualia product, and you risk intoxication.
    ? unknown individual co-factors

    Other contraindications
    Pyridoxine, already in small doses, can accelerate the peripheral conversion of levodopa, antagonizing the dopaminergic action of levodopa.

    Medical legislation in The Netherlands
    No more than 21 milligrams in supplements
    As of October 1, 2018, the Commodities Act states that supplements may not contain more than 21 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day. This amount is somewhat lower than the acceptable upper limit of 25 milligrams.

    All your users want to take good care of their health like I did and do.
    But I learned a lot the hard way – high, therapeutic doses of vitamins, minerals, and other herbal substances can hurt you.

    Please consider a disclaimer or adjust the dose.
    Thank you

  3. Dan says:

    Hi Ben,

    Any chance you could post links to reputable sellers of Methylene Blue and PRL 8-53?

  4. James Parker says:

    Ben, I am stoked at Jasons efforts to sprint. I would like to help him since he mentioned trying to stay healthy through his sprint training. I am not sure if you remember but on one occasion while you were in Utah I met you. I worked with Buhler and I currently practice the muscle activation as well as focused rehabilitation. I work with the USA Track and Field federation and have been on the Olympic and past few World Medical Teams.

    Maybe you could pass the word onto him that I would donate my time to help as the method I practice is advantageous to identifying and fixing areas of instability.

    James Parker DC

    541-505-6842
    www.parkersportsmed.com

  5. Mike says:

    Ben, you may remember that I’m a harsh critic, but I want to say that you did a masterly job of interviewing Jason Koon. Your questions were insightful and to the point. This is the best interview I’ve ever heard you do. Make them all this way!

    1. Thanks! Really appreciate this feedback Mike!

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