I spent years of my life traveling for the game. During that time, I played online poker from any surface I could place a laptop. Airport interiors, coffee shops, hostels, cabins in the middle of nowhere…it was all fair game. In many of these spots, a wicker chair was a luxury. I didn’t have much of a choice abroad. Wherever I found a reliable internet connection, I set up shop.
Of course, my body did not take any serious damage during that time. This isn’t American football. That said, spending more time sitting than sleeping during my 20s was not good for my body. My back curled into painful formations. I developed carpal tunnel. My once stellar vision has been fried by screens.
None of these problems are life threatening, but it does mess with your performance at the poker table.
In today’s day and age, you need every edge you can get. Poker is tougher than ever before. Pros are putting in longer and stronger sessions every chance they can. You need to keep up.
For this reason, I have sought to optimize my playing environment over the past couple of years. The number of fixes I have considered is lengthy, but you can get 80% of the positive results just by following these four steps:
1 Get Glasses That Block Blue Light
Recent studies have begun showing that blue light damages the retina. But I could have told you that. When I was younger, I could play poker literally 16 hours a day without a problem. After 13 years of making my money on the internet, however, my eyesight has taken a serious hit. For years, I had no idea that it had to do with blue light. I just thought that I was getting older or lazier. I started hating working at the computer, and I couldn’t figure out why. Throughout the day, I’d busy myself with house chores, just so I could get away from a screen.
When I did get back to my PC, I’d work for a few hours and develop a dull headache. Worse, sometimes I’d ignore the pain, but wouldn’t know I was doing it. I kept wondering why I was so irritable every time I had to work at the computer. During the worst times, I would work a few hours and then lay down on a couch for 20 minutes just so I could shut my eyes. At that point, I figured something was wrong with my vision, but it turned out to still be normal.
It wasn’t till I tried a new pair of blue light-blocking glasses that I realized what the problem was. I had used the early Gunnar Optics in 2009, but that was apparently before they developed the technology. The new glasses are massively effective and have improved my working life 1000%.
There’s a reason why so many professional League Of Legends players wear glasses. All of that repetitive eye movement against a bright screen wears you out, and every edge counts. I now firmly believe too, just due to my personal experiences, that blue light does have a long-term effect on your retinas.
Do yourself a favor and protect your eyes early. The new glasses are much cheaper than the old gamer glasses used to be, they’re far more effective, and they’ve largely done away with the oddly yellow lenses.
2 Buy Lumbar Back Support Mesh
I recently had to spend a great deal of money to fix my back. Years of slouching in chairs on the road caused me to develop tech neck. I hunched like a caveman because my back muscles were undeveloped. It didn’t leave me feeling attractive, and worse, it hurt like hell.
I wasted a lot of time fixing my back. We’re talking three times a week in a gym, doing specific boring exercises again and again for hours. It was worth it, because back pain is excruciating, but I’d rather you never develop it. While I’d recommend everyone reading this to learn back exercises to do at the gym, I know few people will do that. So, I will recommend something more realistic.
You can buy something called a lumbar back support mesh for any office chair. I literally got mine for $3.00 at a warehouse outlet, but even an “expensive” one only runs around $20.00. Honestly, you should just get a big one, slap it on to your chair, and forget about it. What the mesh does is not let you slouch in your chair. It pushes your lower back forward. If you lean back it will force you into correct posture. It ends up feeling unnatural to slouch, so you’ll start sitting straight up on your chair with good posture, which of course, is the whole point.
3 Buy A Carpal Tunnel Glove
I cannot work on my computer without a carpal tunnel glove.
When I was massively multitabling for 60 hours a week, I would develop carpal tunnel and tennis elbow constantly. It became annoying. Long sessions became excruciating. I’d go to the YMCA and work on the right exercises, but it would still flare up on occasion. One day, I bought a carpal tunnel glove out of curiosity. Best decision I’ve ever made. The pain went away and never came back. All a carpal tunnel glove does is strap a metal bar to your wrist, so you can’t constantly bend it and let it slack. It keeps it in the right posture for long sessions.
4 Disinfectant Wipes
Have you ever read an article about germ specialists scanning common areas? The filthiest surfaces they find tend to be on cell phones and keyboards. Every morning, before you do anything, take a disinfectant wipe to your whole desk. It will pay off. My friends joke with me constantly about how I never get sick. Knock on wood, it’s been years. Most of that I think is honestly luck, and the fact that many smaller infections and coughs didn’t turn into anything serious, but I think cleaning your workstation helps. Your immune system will get plenty of practice out in the real world. But since you touch your keyboard and then your face about a hundred times a day, you should avoid letting anything grow in your work station.