Situational awareness is vital at all times at the poker table, especially when you’re not in a hand. This applies to poker in a brick-and-mortar room or online poker at virtual tables.
You could miss valuable information if you’re checking your mobile phone, or watching TV instead of paying attention to the ongoing hand.
Avoid Distractions, Put Away Your Phone
Sometimes live poker can slow down to a snail’s pace, so there’s often a huge gap of time in between hands. Before everyone began carrying mobile phones, poker players often read newspapers, the Daily Racing Form, or gambling-related magazines to pass the down time. After many poker rooms lifted their ban on mobile devices at the table, poker players were able to kill the downtown by checking their phones.
You really should avoid staring at your phone to curtail the boredom. Instead, you should use the time to study how other players act/react to different scenarios. You cannot fully adapt to a situation if you’re not aware of what’s going on.
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Collecting Reads Invaluable
One of the most underrated aspects of poker is collecting reads on opponents when you’re not involved in a hand. Some of the biggest tells I discovered happened when I wasn’t involved in a hand. I watched other people at my table. But, if your face is buried in your phone, you could miss a potential tell or other valuable information.
Pros began to wear sunglasses at the table so they could study opponents without letting them know they’re under surveillance. Nothing freaks me out more than that uncomfortable feeling when you know you’re being watched. Surveillance leads to knowledge, and knowledge is the fastest way to gain an edge on your opponent.
Playing online poker at home could be very comfortable, but it also opens you up to a multitude of distractions. That’s why you need to play online poker in a dedicated room with a closed door to avoid distractions from family, roommates, or pets.
Whenever there’s money on the line, you want to avoid unnecessary distractions. Avoid the urge to binge watch something on a second screen like Netflix, or watch sports because your eyes will drift away from your virtual table the moment you click the fold button. Also avoid the urge to surf the web, or doom scrolling on social media during an online session.
Sweating Sports Bets in the Poker Room
Poker rooms in major casinos are often situated adjacent or nearby a sportsbook. It’s not uncommon to see someone at your table sweating a wager on a game. They’re easy to spot because their eyes are glued to a sporting event flickering on the closest TV. If by chance they made a wager on a non-televised game, or the nearest TV is on a different channel, then you’ll find them constantly checking the score on their phone.
As an avid sports bettor, I’ve definitely been “that guy” at the table. In the era before sports betting apps, I’d often place wagers at the sportsbook, then sweat my bets in the poker room. Poker was a fun way to kill some time before a game started.
An action junkie that loves sports betting is one of my favorite type of opponents at the poker table. They’re not afraid to throw their money around, so there’s a good chance they’re a loose and aggressive poker player. It’s even better if you overhear them complaining about their sports betting bad beats. If you thought poker players overshared their bad beat stories, sports bettors are even worse.
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Monday Night Football a Big Distraction
I preferred playing poker on Monday nights during football season. You’d be surprised how many of your opponents cannot take their eyes off the Monday Night Football telecast. Monday nights are the last chance for a football bettor to get unstuck for the week. It’s an ideal time to take advantage of desperate sports bettors in a moment of weakness.
A distracted poker player is a vulnerable poker player. If they’re sweating or kvetching about a losing wager, then there’s an added chance their sports betting tilt could spill over to the poker table.
The addition of Thursday Night Football provides you with another night of the week to pick off distracted poker players. The weekends during football season are also a great time to head to the poker room with college football on Saturday, and the NFL on Sunday.
The NBA playoffs are currently in full swing, don’t miss out on an opportunity to play cards against a distracted NBA bettor. Plan out your next poker session to coincide with an NBA playoff game, and take advantage of an opponent who’s paying more attention to the score of the game than what’s happening at the poker table.
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