The Importance of Focus in Online Poker: Concentration Improves Poker Game Play
Online poker is vastly different from live table play. Each has its own set of factors that determine outcome based on skill, strategy and luck. The manner in which table position is utilized is important regardless of whether the game is online or off. However, learning to read opponents through a computer screen is much more difficult than at a live card table. This inability to read one’s opponent by physical “tells” such as facial expressions can have serious implications for the results of an online game. Does this matter if poker play is for “play” money? Probably not, yet the play money tables are where most beginners start and learn. If and when a beginner feels ready to play for real money, strategy becomes much more important. So, whether the game is played for money or just for fun, focus is still going to be a key factor because of the lowered ability to read opponents’ play.
Focus Strategies for Online Poker
- First, and foremost, turn off the chat feature that accompanies most online poker sites. Chatting with opponents is fine for a relaxed, fun game. On the other hand, it can be a real distraction if it’s a high stakes game or a player is participating in multiple games or tournaments at the same time. Keep in mind that the chat feature is also used strategically by many to intimidate other players with negative talk about game play. This is a way to try to put a player “on tilt” or off his game.
- Use the “sit this hand out” feature sparingly. Again, most poker sites have this option which is convenient if a player has to use it. However, big hands can get folded while a player is away from the table so it’s best to use it as infrequently as possible.
- This should go without saying, but online (and live) poker players need to keep themselves hydrated. Not getting enough fluid (water) can create brain fog and possibly cause the player to lose focus and make poor strategic decisions. Keep a snack and glass of water nearby so as not to have to use the “sit this hand out” feature. This is especially advantageous during tournament play that can take hours.
- Use over-the-ear style headphones to block outside sounds like the phone ringing or pets and family members making noise. Listen to a style of music that is enjoyable if it’s not distracting. Otherwise just use the headphones to block noise for better concentration.
- Don’t multi-task like watching tv while playing poker. If there’s money riding on the game, why risk it by putting attention somewhere unnecessary?
- Take breaks during tournament play. Poker tournaments generally have a five minute break every hour. Use it to get up, walk around, use the bathroom and anything else necessary. It’s important to use those breaks to clear the mind and prepare for the next round with renewed focus.
Multiple Table or Tournament Play
Some players can, and some can’t, play multiple tables. With the advancement in poker sites, most players have the ability to play in multiple games using a different window for each one. These windows can be re-sized and layered or tiled across the computer screen. For many, this strategy can make best use of time, especially if poker is their livelihood. For others, multiple games means too much of a split in focus and they will find they will do better with a single game, or tournament, at a time. In the long run, those not proficiently skilled in multi-game play will likely make more money per hour in the single game because they will be able to concentrate better.