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Control Your Poker Environment

We've all had moments in good old fashioned brick and mortar casinos where our senses become overwhelmed by an environment that we have no control over. From uncomfortable chairs to overflowing A/C to the guy sitting next to you who obviously hasn't bathed since the last time the Cleveland Indians won the Series, playing live poker can be a less than pleasant experience at times. That's why one of the biggest advantages of playing online poker versus live poker is the ability to control your environment. By standardizing all the variables of game play and setting your poker playing environment to your liking, you can maximize your focus and take that next step toward becoming a winning player.

So how do you control your environment? Well, let's start at the beginning. If you're anything like me, you're going to be very anal about your poker playing environment. That means you turn off your phone and shut down whatever program you use for instant messaging. Even if you're just playing for fun, you should still be taking poker seriously (unless you're just looking to flip away your roll). Along those same lines, make sure to turn off the TV, stop surfing the web and answering emails. This is about minimizing distraction in an effort to maximize focus, and one of the pitfalls of online poker is all the readily available procrastination devices at your fingertips.

Now that you're distraction free, tune the other variables in the house to your liking. Is the temperature in the house comfortable? Check. Do you have water and soda within reach and a tasty meal ready to go in the fridge? Check. What about music? I always like to have some music going in the background, but nothing too loud or distracting (if you're singing along with the lyrics, it means you're not focusing on poker).

So you've got all the peripherals taken care of, now comes the game play itself. Go through the options in the game lobby and set everything to your liking. Most of it is up to you, but personally, I like to roll with the animation off (so the game runs smoother) and “highlight bet amount” turned on. For those of you who don't know, when you turn on “highlight bet amount” it makes it so the bet amount is always highlighted when it's your turn to act. That means all you have to do is type in the amount you'd like to bet when it's your turn − no having to manually highlight the number yourself or fumble around with the bet slider. I also like to set the game background to plain brown, especially when you've played down to the final table. That bright blue “hockey rink” final table background can be distracting, so I always switch it off.

Once again, you're doing all of this because it's to your advantage, not just because you're a control freak. By controlling your environment, you give yourself the best chance to maximize your focus on the game and be a winning player. This is far and away one of the biggest assets available to all online poker players.


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