Keys to a grind station

What goes into a sick online poker setup? Sure, the winner of Team PokerStars Online's Sickest Setup competition will probably have a super balla grind station, but does super balla work for everyone? Is it practical?

The first thing players have to consider when setting up their grind station is comfort. If you're going to be putting in long hours on the virtual felt, then it's paramount that your chair is cushiony, you have legroom, and you have a nice mouse. Having a nice chair and space to stretch out are obvious must-haves for comfort, but most grinders don't know the importance of a good mouse. Not only can a top-of-the-line mouse help boost your hand-eye coordination, increasing efficiency and accuracy, but it can also help prevent hand cramps or even worse - carpal tunnel syndrome.

In May of 2012, The New York Times took a look at carpal tunnel syndrome prevention, and doctors found that trackball devices and jointed-type keyboards are the best tools available.


Location is also important for a grind station. If you have enough space in your house, apartment, or room to move around, then find a window and place your grind station perpendicular to it. If there is a window behind you, then you'll have to deal with glare. If there is a window in front of you, then you'll be forced to squint all day or worse, you'll have to wear sunglasses.

Wearing sunglasses to play live poker is bad enough.

With a window perpendicular to your grind station, you can steal a glance outside and feel the warmth of the sun without letting it disrupt your flow. Steady exposure to sunlight will increase your vitamin D production, promoting bone health, and fight off seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Yes, you can develop a SAD illness if you don't get enough sunlight, so don't grind in a cave.

When you're confident that your grind station is both comfortable and somewhat healthy (we'll ignore the box of day-old pizza as long as the sun is shining), then you can focus on the balla aspects. Multiple screens are nice, and they will allow you to play on dozens of tables at once, but having three or more screens can hamper your ability to multi-table efficiently. With three or more screens, you're asking your neck and back to do a lot more turning, and your eyes to do a lot more darting, which can cause grave discomfort.

If you find yourself shortening your sessions because of neck pain, and you use three or more screens, try taking one away. You may have to reduce the number of tables you're playing at, but you may also begin playing longer, more comfortable sessions. Not everyone can be a superhuman grinder like Kevin "WizardOfAhhs" Thurman, so don't jeopardize your win rate for an extra screen or two.

Food and water are necessities when putting in long hours, making quick access a priority. If you're a cash game grinder you can always sit out a few hands, but that could disrupt your flow. If you're a tournament grinder, then you will have a maximum of five minutes every hour to run around your place and gather all of the things you need for the next hour. If you have room, placing a mini-fridge next to your grind station can allow you to easily refuel while you're grinding. Don't fill it with junk food and soda though, try water and fresh snacks like carrots, peppers, celery etc.

If you're really ambitious, you can prepare salads or small meals for you to munch on throughout the day. This takes some time and commitment, but is well worth it.

Good luck to everyone submitting their grind station this weekend, but if you don't win, don't worry. You don't have to have the most balla grind station in the world to be a winner, just make sure it's practical and it's comfortable. Your win rate is what really matters, not your balla grind style.

Rich Ryan
@PokerStars in PokerStars news