Poker's winter hours

Most professional poker players play both live and online, and so going back and forth between the live and virtual felt has challenges but also presents a lot of benefits. One thing I'm realizing as summer ends and we start to move into the cooler months is how when winter comes, there also comes a greater shift towards staying inside and playing online.

For those of us who travel -- say to play on the EPT or on other tours -- that affects when and where we play, obviously. But generally speaking as winter comes and it's cold outside we don't feel like going out. Here in Belgium there will be gray skies and cold rain a lot of the time during winter -- not so much snow -- and so that gives us even more reason to stay indoors and keep warm. So partly because of this, the focus turns toward logging lots of hours playing cash games and tournaments online.

If you were to look at my productivity graph on PokerStars, you'd see what I'm talking about -- how I play so many more hours during the winter than during the summer, because during the warmer months there's just so much more to do outside. I'm not alone in that respect, I know, as there are a lot more players online during the winter months than during the summer, including the recreational players.


Not only do I play more hours online during the winter, but I am usually more profitable, too, which probably is not a coincidence. I have more time to play, but I also have more time to study, watching videos and focusing more on improving. It's nice thing to have one's hobby also be one's profession, which is the case for me. I'm always looking to fill the time when I'm not playing with ways to work on my game, and during the winter there's just that much more time to do so.

It's funny -- whenever I play live, especially for a long stretch of time, I start thinking about how I want to play online, and similarly, when I've been cooped up playing online for a long period, I dream about having some more social contact and playing live. There's a little bit of the "grass is always greener on the other side" going on there, I know.

But as fall comes and winter is not too far behind, I'm becoming very motivated to get back online to play more hours. The WCOOP just ending also kind of helped me get back into that mode, and right now I'm playing a lot of six-handed no-limit hold'em. I had been playing PLO as well, but I want to focus more on NLHE 6-max. going forward which is really my "bread-and-butter" game.

Overall it's good to go back and forth between live and online play, I think. It helps to have some variety to keep things fresh, but the differences between live and online are useful, too, and you learn things in each that can help you when playing the other.

It's also a good thing for poker players to have this kind of "season cycle" where we play more during the winter (especially online) and perhaps relax some during the summer. That way a poker player's world can keep going 'round.

Christophe de Meulder is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Christophe De Meulder
@PokerStars in PokerStars news