Like all the best concepts, poker is a deceptively simple game. You can learn the rules of Texas Hold’em in less than an hour, and thanks to sites like you can join a properly regulated game of poker through an internet connection in just a few minutes. What the rules don’t tell you is just how much variation this ‘simple’ game can throw up, and how you can spend a lifetime improving your play. That being said, some basics rules of thumb will always help boost your chances of winning poker games, whether you are a seasoned pro or it is your first time at the table – and making sure that you concentrate on the game has to be one of the most important ingredients of a successful play.

While internet poker has made access to the game easier than ever, this form of play also comes with some inherent risks. In physical games of poker, the very surroundings that you are intending to focus your attention on the task in hand, as you sit round the table and try reading the expressions of other players. In online play, the ambiance is quite different – and largely determined by you – and if you are not careful it can be easy to get distracted. Try to avoid multitasking when you play poker – i.e. switch off the TV – as the more you pay attention to the game, the more information you will pick up about other players and their habits. With fewer chances for observation, you should arguably concentrate harder when playing poker online than when you take part in a game in your local bricks-and-mortar casino.

You can make the task of sustaining concentration easier for yourself if you avoid playing multiple games at the same time, especially when you are new to poker. It may seem like you are increasing your chances of winning by exposing yourself to more hands, but this can compromise your judgment calls and lead to the unnecessary loss of chips.

Another common concentration killer has been the downfall of countless poker players, of all levels of ability. Once you lose your rational judgment and start to play ‘on tilt’, you make yourself a real target for your opponents. Lady luck is a fickle lover, and if she starts to turn against you, take a break.

One of the easiest ways to lose your capacity for rational judgment – as well as contributing to ‘on tilt’ play – is to throw some alcohol into the mix. Again, it is especially easy to get drunk and keep playing way past your best when engaged in online poker – whereas in a bricks and mortar a certain level of inebriation is sure to prompt staff to tell you to call it a day.