Here’s how to combat boredom at the poker table



It’s been said poker is long periods of boredom punctuated by bursts of incredible excitement.

At least that’s true for the tight-aggressive player. The looser players have found a way to battle the boredom: widen the range of hands played.

I was wondering if the development of this style is a response to the nature of the game.

But more about the tight-aggressive player: What does that person do during the boring parts? Like the loose counterpart, make it less boring.

I don’t mean playing computer games, watching a movie, reading a book. I mean paying more attention. Pay attention to opponents. Get a handle on betting patterns and tells. Watch the hand you are not in and play the guessing game. Try to put players on hands.

One has to make the most of what the game brings you; successful players will work on dealing with the stretches they’re not in the hand by playing the rest of the game, which may prove even more important than playing.
Much has been said about the luck-skill dichotomy. In my opinion, it’s not a dichotomy.

When I win, it’s skill and when I get sucked out on it’s luck (the villain’s good luck and my bad luck).

Seneca, a Roman philosopher, said luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I have heard this a bunch of times and even have seen it on posters. But during one of those boring times at the table I had an epiphany.

We prepare, develop skills and play as well as we do and then the opportunity arises and we get a little luck, avoid being unlucky or the villain getting lucky. Preparation meets opportunity and luck makes us successful. Preparation and skill development allows us to be around when the opportunity hits.

So, if you want to be this kind of player, you have to make the long stretches of boredom useful to you and not just want for luck to hit you.

Watch the play. Watch the players. Don’t watch House of Cards on Netflix. Watch the cards in front of you. Or change your style.
But always keep your head in the game.

— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. Email him at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine