Got a little bored the other night so wrote an article. Enjoy!
Music and Poker
Walk into a cardroom or watch any poker on TV and you’ll inevitably see people listening to music at the table. This is a great idea if done for the right reasons. Occasionally though players will be doing so because they see others doing it, or even worse; to look cool.
Music a great way to accompany your live poker experience, but you must be doing it correctly.
There are three main benefits to listening to music at the table. First, it can help you relax. Listening to some soothing music can calm even the hottest headed person. Secondly, it can really help you focus. With the distractions taken away from around you, it’s much easier to take notice on what’s happening. Finally, it can stop you getting bored. Yes, we all love poker, but a cold run of cards can distract the most dedicated fan.
A non direct benefit can be misdirecting the players. If your opponents think you’re focus is elsewhere, they may try and pull some bigger moves against you. If you’re listening to music in the correct way however, you’ll have the last laugh. You can ever be extra sneaky and wear your headphones without any music playing. Just don’t let on!
Turn it on and stick it in your ears you might think is the obvious answer, but you need the right set up for poker. A decent pair of headphones is essential. You want the music to be prominent in your ears, but not so loud you can’t hear someone speaking up, or so loud it damages your ears.
In ear headphones are bad for prolonged use. You’re pushing them right up against your ear drum, often resulting in tinitus (ringing). Tinitus is when your inner ear is damaged; after a while it never fully recovers.
On or over-ear headphones are the solution. Sure they look big and clunky, but we’re not here to win a fashion contest. When choosing a pair, you want them to feature noise cancelling capabilities. This means the headphones eliminate the ambient (outside) noise around you, meaning you can listen to your music at a lower volume. My Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones have served me well over the years, but at £250 a pop for the newest model, they don’t come cheap. The JVC HA-NC250 come in at a more reasonable £85 and have an excellent track record.
Music player wise, there’s tons of choices out there. For me, I like to travel light, and can load 5GB of music onto my Blackberry which is more than enough to last a tournament.
Of course, music choice is very much down to taste. My preferred styles for poker are Ambient or Dubstep. Some of my favourite artists for the tables include Stars Of The Lid, Brian Eno, Burial and Clubroot.
Whatever your choice, make it relaxing and not a distraction. Don’t play your favourite rock ballards or indie anthems, you might end up folding a couple of blinds whilst you air guitar with your eyes closed (plus you’ll look ridiculous).
There is some basic etiquette to adhere to. Don’t have the volume up so loud it bothers other players. But most importantly, don’t let it slow you down at the tables. If you keep getting distracted and holding up the game, perhaps music whilst playing isn’t for you. Stay focused.
I couldn’t play poker without music. It’s an essential tool for my survival in tournaments and sanity in cash games. I always plan ahead however, taking the above tips into consideration, making it a benefit instead of a hindrance. Happy listening!