To win at poker, one needs confidence, composure, and a knack for reading other people. In fact, much like poker players, 62% of America’s business executives rely on intuition or gut feelings over data.
But with online poker, the lack of human interaction means you’re up against faceless opponents on a screen, so all the factors that help you tap into your intuition are much more difficult to come by.
What you can do, though, is make sure your gaming setup is comfortable enough for you to play to the best of your ability, and powerful enough to make the experience enjoyable. This simple and quick guide can help you get started.
Online poker may seem like a light game to run, but it still requires the most flawless gaming experience possible. That’s why you need a solid CPU, as it determines how fast your computer runs.
With a good CPU, you can avoid performance lag during your online poker sessions. From heads-up matches to Sit & Go’s, playing online poker needs additional computing resources. That’s because, unlike most browser-based games, you need to be connected to a server to play with people in real-time. You may also need an additional browser open, certainly at first, to help understand things like basic poker terms, or calculating the odds of winning a hand. It all adds pressure on your hardware.
So for everything from casual play to multi-table tournaments, your computer needs enough processing power to handle the extra activity. For this, try mid-range processors, like Intel’s core i5 or AMD’s Ryzen 5. However, if you want your PC to run more demanding games as well, use higher-end models, like the Core i9 and Ryzen 9.
However, a CPU needs an equally capable RAM to juggle multiple tasks. And though browser games seem lightweight, they usually require a lot of background processes to run. A RAM with 8 to 16 GB of storage should be sufficient to prevent your computer from crashing during poker sessions, which, since real money is on the line, may have unfavorable effects.
Finally, consider investing in a dedicated graphics card. Though most come pre-baked into the CPU, a separate card can give you a better poker experience, especially for sites like 888 Poker, which use 3D modelling. The NVIDIA GTX 970 is well worth the splurge, but if you’re on a budget, the AMD RADEON R9 360 is a cheaper alternative.
After building your foundation, it’s time to fill it out with good software, starting with the operating system (OS). Any OS — such as Windows, MacOS, and Linux — will do, so stick to the one you’re most familiar with. The same goes for your browser.
However, there are some computer programs you can use to further enhance your gameplay. TableNinja, for instance, helps you assign certain actions, like folding or going all-in, to keys of your choice, so you don’t need to use your mouse. And programs like Hold’em Manager and PokerTracker can generate stats for yourself and other players, giving you a competitive edge.
Once you get started, you might find yourself playing poker for hours at a time, so you might as well make sure you’re comfortable while you’re at it. Start with a good gaming chair, which allows you to put both feet flat on the floor while keeping your monitor at eye level. Meanwhile, place your monitor at least an arm’s length away, and let your elbows rest at 90 degrees when using your mouse or keyboard. And with free software like F.lux, you can regulate the blue light your screen emits, ultimately keeping your eyes healthy.
You can also try out ergonomic accessories, such as an ergonomic mouse, head and wrist rests, and even split-adjustable keyboards. And don’t forget to stand up once in a while to stretch, so you can refresh, refuel, and of course, play poker for longer.
Remember, this setup isn’t just ideal for online poker, but all online pursuits. Whether that’s gaming, working from home or just general internet browsing, this guide has provided you with a powerful and comfortable base to go all-in on your computer usage.