With more people working from home than ever before, adopting healthy habits is crucial to both your own well-being and your work performance.
This is especially true for poker players, particularly those who have switched from live poker tournaments to online poker games in 2020. The work from home grind allows you to play more hands across more tables, but also allows distractions to creep in and interrupt your flow.
Here are some top tips for working from home from some of the top poker players we’ve interviewed.
Where should you work from home?
Finding a calm and peaceful place to work from home isn’t always possible. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have office spaces in which we can close the door and block out the outside world.
But everyone is different. You can really work from anywhere you feel comfortable, so long as you can remain focused.
“When we imagine the grind stations of the top online players in the world, we picture them in a peaceful monocoloured room, with Alexa playing calming ocean sounds, pleasant scents emanating from incense sticks, and a steady stream of natural light pouring in. All the while, their focus remains solely on the massive monitors in front of them,” we wrote in our ‘How to set up the optimal grind station’ article.
“Then again, when Charlie “Epiphany77” Carrel won the 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) Main Event for $1.2 million, he did so while playing on a laptop from a Starbucks during a power cut opposite a busy beach in Mexico.”
So what tips do poker players have for setting up a good space to work from home?
“I have an area reserved just for poker,” said Brazil’s “LFFF22”, who won a SCOOP event in 2020 for just shy of $350K. “I am a CGO (chief growth officer) of an advertising agency, and I have many responsibilities in my daily life,” he adds, highlighting why having his own poker space lets him get away from it all and focus his efforts on the tables.
Then again, all six-time COOP champion “Senkel92” needs to work from home is a sense of comfort. “My optimal grind station is next to my piano, as it’s where my cats sleep,” he says.
Find a place in your home where you can relax and focus.
What equipment do you need to work from home?
Zoom calls took over our work lives in 2020, so having a camera and microphone connected to your computer is crucial these days.
This is especially true for Twitch poker streamers.
“It really doesn’t matter about the quality, to begin with,” Twitch streaming superstar Ben “Spraggy” Spragg told us. “You just need a way to communicate and start connecting with people. I started with an old gaming headset I had lying around, and used the flip-down mic.”
Spraggy and his fellow Twitch Poker phenomenon Lex Veldhuis told PokerStars Blog about all of the equipment they recommend streamers have in order to produce a quality stream. If you’re thinking of streaming your own PokerStars games on Twitch, check out ‘6 essential things you need to start streaming poker on Twitch’.
“I have a very comfortable table and chair, two laptops, one monitor, two internet connections and 4G as back-up,” SCOOP champion “LFFF22” told us. Knowing he has back-up internet means that when he starts the session his focus is only on the tables.
Cut out the distractions
We’re all guilty of procrastinating from time to time, but when you work from home and you’re left to your own devices, it’s even more tempting.
If you can remove distractions from your workspace, you’ll be far more productive.
SCOOP champion “Pingu2k4” chooses to do some work on the side throughout a poker session, but turns it all off the deeper he gets in an event. “If I wasn’t so busy with work then I imagine it would be replaced with something like YouTube, Netflix, or perhaps a low-intensity game,” he said. “Of course, for the final table and the lead up to it, I cut out all distractions and focus more on it.”
Adopt a healthy work routine
Many of poker’s top players follow a morning routine involving exercise, meditation, and cold showers.
You don’t have to go to extreme lengths to set yourself up for the day though. Sometimes it can be as simple as preparing your meals before you start work.
“How should you prepare? You simplify. You simplify everything,” he said.
“You make sure you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat, or when you’re going to exercise, or what time you’re going to wake up. You must try to simplify everything.”
Ferreira also recommends maintaining a good sleep schedule and sticking to the same work hours.
“Try to wake up at the same hour every day, try to go to sleep at the same time each night, eat at the same time, exercise at the same time,” he said. “That’s what I did every day during SCOOP.”
Exercise, exercise, exercise
Without your regular work commute, it’s essential you continue to exercise when working from home.
“Exercise is more important than study for me at this point,” Ferreira added. “I didn’t take a day off from exercise in 30 days or so.”
You can even exercise while working on your computer.
“Sitting on a chair all day, even one with professed lumbar support, is detrimental to our bodies in several ways,” Lauren Gasser, a London-based yoga instructor who focuses particularly on mental health and well-being, told PokerStars Blog. “We are compressing our vertebrae, restricting movement in the hamstrings, putting huge pressure on our hips and encouraging our shoulders to roll forwards.”
For more tips on staying healthy while working from home, check out ‘Staying healthy in the poker world’.