Electronics at the table can really hurt your poker game
Back in the beginning of 2012 I went on one of my worst down swings in my poker career. For what seemed like months I just could not put together a solid streak of winning sessions. I have always had the luxury of supplementing my income in other ways besides only playing poker but these other ventures do not allow me to play as many hours as other full time players. This means that over a period of months my results could be more extreme or variant as I may play less overall hours than others.
In March of 2012 I decided that I was really going to bear down and play a full three months straight and really examine my play. One of the first things that I decided to do was to not use my smart phone at all at the table. I literally left it in my car and only went out to check it for emergencies every few hours when I took a break from the table. The difference in my game was absolutely amazing. I found that I was able to concentrate so much more and that I was no longer playing on autopilot. I was actively paying attention to the other players, watching showdowns and learning about my opponents’ tendencies constantly. I also noticed that most of my opponents were not paying attention because they were fooling around with their electronic devices.
During this three-month period I had my best winning streak by far, ever. This was after playing professionally for almost seven years including the glory days of no limit back in 2005-2007. The fact that I put the phone down was a monumental change in my game. Flip forward about a year after that and I saw a few really good players whose games I respected a lot crumble because they were so addicted to playing open face Chinese poker on their iPads and iPhones at the table. Some guys literally never looked up from their devices unless they were involved with a hand and in some extreme situations would only look up when it was their turn to act! They lost so much information because they were so involved with playing OFC it was absolutely ridiculous.
You have to be entirely honest with yourself and ask how much time are you spending fooling around with electronics at the table? How much better off would you be if you put all of the distractions away? I think a really good exercise would be to challenge yourself for a week and concentrate solely on the game. Compare that week’s results, your overall performance and how you think that you played during that hyper concentration period to the time before. If you feel like your performance was greatly enhanced it is time to put the electronics away. Poker is a game of incomplete information. And the best live players capitalize on ALL of the information that is available to them. That may include tells, people preloading their chips, certain nervous ticks, etc. When you are not paying attention, and specifically when you are distracted by electronics at the table you miss out on all of the nuisances that make you a great poker player.