Let’s face it, most of us don’t have as much time for poker as we’d like. And while those who count themselves among the time-challenged may forever be green with envy over the hours true grinders put in, there are ways to carve out more time for poker.
Idea: Track daily activities to find time management leaks
Coach James “SplitSuit” Sweeney is fond of reminding students that becoming better at the skills that make you a great poker player also means becoming better at the skills that give you a happy, fulfilling life.
The time audit is one of life’s great tricks to provide perspective on life while you’re busy living it. It’s a bit of a grind and takes some dedication and hard work, but the end results aren’t limited to more room for poker — you’ll be able to better organize your whole day-to-day.
The idea is to track absolutely everything you do for at least 1 week… one month if you want a real accurate picture of how you’re spending your time. The results will astonish you and probably change the way you think about many of the things you do (and don’t do) in life.
One easy way to set this up is to keep a spreadsheet where each row is a 15-minute increment, or even just a run-of-the-mill calendar app. Set alarms throughout the day for every few hours, and pause for a few minutes to jot down what you spent your previous few hours on. You can also use software like Rescue Time to automate much of the tracking, and give detailed analytics on where you’re spending your time.
As you get better at auditing your time, you’ll see obvious patterns where you get distracted or can tend to procrastinate. You’ll see simple changes you can make to streamline routines and buy time all over the place. You’ll see activities you can chunk together to save time. And you’ll be able to value your time more appropriately, now that you know exactly how you’re spending it. Which, hopefully, is more frequently at the poker table.
Idea: Increase table time slowly, in small increments over time
When starting a new habit, it’s best to take tiny steps. Want to do 50 pushups a day? Start with 1. Even if you CAN do 50, starting with 1, then increasing to 2, and so on will ensure you build a solid habit of doing something first. It’s more about consistency than quantity or quality when you’re first starting out.
A lot of times, the poker-starved player, when given the opportunity to binge on poker, burns themselves out. Don’t be the weekend warrior who camps out in the casino for a week on a lark and blows the bankroll. Just stay an extra hour or two. The slower and steadier you build up your allotted poker time, the easier it will be to make more poker a part of your routine.
Idea: Bookend poker sessions with consistent routines
Some players have leaks when it comes to the process they go through just to get to the table, but for most players it’s the leaks that happen afterwards that monopolize the most time… particularly after a winning session.
Less time spent in a routine getting to the table (for most of us, a long meal or some other indulgence) equals more time at the table, period. And for sure, allowing a winning session to be celebrated all night (or a losing session to be mourned through insomnia) is a sure-fire way to rob yourself of time on the felt.
If you want to maximize your poker time, do yourself a favor and streamline the routines that take you to the table and away from it.
Idea: Find games that play to the strengths of your schedule
We all know the poker room is at its juciest on Friday and Saturday nights. But sometimes Monday is the only night you can play poker. There are ways to make it work, but you might have to cast your net beyond the casino and into the home game scene to find a nice edge. Or, if you’re feeling particularly tech-savvy and brave, you could take your game online, where action’s available 24/7 (with a few exceptions, mostly in the US).
If you’re not getting enough of your poker fix, think outside the game you’ve currently selected and see if there are other opportunities to mix it up during your more avaialable moments.
Idea: Getting better gives you many edges in staying at the table longer
How does improving your game give you more time for poker? By giving you more of an edge. And an edge can slice and dice time like a katana.
If you have an edge over your opponents, you can justify spending more time at the table, period. If finances are your only justification, it’s easy to make the case for staying at a table where the action is good and your edge is significant.
Getting better means winning more, and winning more tends to somewhat silence the critics and skeptics in your life who might question the value in sitting at a table playing cards for most of the day.
There’s no doubt improving your game improves the quality of your experience. But above all, it gives you extra lives, better odds, a greater likelihood you’ll still be standing (or sitting) when the dust settles and the chips fall. The better you are, the more likely you’ll be back the next day with a fresh stack and a positive attitude, and that’s what it takes to hang in there. Everyone has room for improvement, and making you better to make you more time to play is what we’re all about.