Whether you’re playing in a high class poker tournament or sitting at home playing online poker, the last thing you need are any poker distractions taking your mind off the game. Distractions that can make your mind wander away from concentrating on the cards in front of you aren’t always something that catches your eye or indeed even a sound that you hear.
Foible or distraction?
Sitting at a poker table there are all manner of things that could distract you from your game. No matter where the poker room is, even if it is a sealed room with just the players and a dealer – the very fact that there are other people present will be a potential source of distraction to you. I’m not saying here that anyone at the poker table is going to deliberately distract you, they’d soon be told in no uncertain terms if they were to try deliberately using distraction techniques to boost their own game, but by very dent of the fact that we’re all human – we can all cause other people to become distracted by our own little foibles. For example, I am an inveterate ‘tapper’, not that I get a pair of drum-sticks out and do a quick drum-roll, but I do have a habit of mindlessly tapping before making my play. I know that for some other poker players this could be a wild distraction entirely spoiling their own concentration, whereas others will quite happily ignore it. Personally I find it really distracting when other poker players take ages to decide what to do and keep shuffling in their seats. If you have your own little foible, be aware of it and try to stop it; however, regarding other people’s foibles, well you just have to adopt that Zen like frame of mind and shut them out.
Distractions around you
Playing poker at most tournaments, or even just in a casino, and you’re inevitably going to be bombarded with distractions. Whether it’s pretty cocktail waitresses, lights and cameras, an audience gathering to watch the play or even a full band playing in the back-ground – you’ve just got to shut your mind to them all. Sure you can look, sure you can listen to everything that’s going on around you – just not whilst you’re actually playing poker. It really is all down to your ability to concentrate on the task at hand. I remember some years ago seeing a show on TV, can’t remember what it was but it was a live show. Anyway, I remember this young kid had a solo singing spot, a balloon in the audience burst with an extremely loud bang! The kid just carried straight on, the voice never waivered and the eyes never left the camera. Now I figure if a kid on TV can show that degree of concentration and commitment – surely adult poker players can do the same at the poker table?
If you’re in a poker tournament
Having earlier said that it’s OK to look at the pretty waitresses or listen to the band away from the poker table, there are times when even that, or at least over-doing that, isn’t to be recommended. Quite frankly if you’re playing in any sort of poker tournament, you really need to adopt the life of the proverbial monk for its duration. Quite simply the temptations of going out on the town the night before any tournament has to be avoided. Whilst only a fool would over-indulge themselves in ‘free drinks’ or any of the other distractions on offer, when sitting at the poker table – only a fool will go out and get trashed the night before a big tournament. Getting yourself relaxed and ready for the tournament is one thing, so do have a drink or go to a show etc if you fancy it. Just don’t over do it as you’ll be in no fit state to concentrate on the poker game the next day; especially with a head that feels as if someone’s trying to hammer their way out of it and mouth that tastes like the cat litter box.
Avoiding online poker distractions
Avoiding online poker distractions come in two categories – those on the computer and those off it. If you’re one of those people that can play online poker listening to a CD, with the TV on, using your cell phone, cleaning the house at the same time (OK that last one was a bit silly!) – then fine and good for you. However, if you don’t like any other noise or distractions – turn them off. You don’t have to send that poker tweet about how well doing; you don’t have to have the TV on etc. If there’s other folk around then simply move your computer to a quieter room where you won’t be disturbed. Of course, various distractions could literally pop-up on your computer whilst playing internet poker. Although you can’t avoid having an internet browser open you don’t have to have your blog or email client open – so turn things like them off too and help yourself to avoid other potential poker distractions.