Tilt Free Poker – Filtering noise at the poker table

Noise is one of those constants in life we just learn to deal with. In almost every nook and cranny of the earth, there’s some sort of noise being generated. It may be birds or the ocean gently lapping at the sandy shore. It may be a jackhammer making quick work of decades-old asphalt in New York City. Regardless, it’s there and there’s not much you can do to stop it. The poker table is no different – Whether it’s live poker or online, there’s typically plenty of noise.

It’s just noise – so what?

Noise can have a degrading effect on your poker game whether you realize it or not. Obvious examples are the loud, obnoxious guy that trash talks every time he rakes a big pot. There’s always a “Phil Hellmuth” at the table as well that wants to educate everyone on the “right” way to play a hand. When you’re playing online there’s the omniscient chat box – the playground for low IQ drones that want to flex their Internet muscle and talk trash to people thousands of miles away. If you’re the target of these attacks you most often will have a very specific reaction – usually to talk trash back. This however, is not the best course of action because by playing into these tactics you’re putting your bankroll at risk.

Live game tactics for dealing with noise

The dynamics at a live poker table are fundamentally different than those at an online table. So let’s talk a bit about how to mitigate the effects of “noise” while playing live. The easiest method is simply plugging in your iPod and listening to your favorite tracks. So long as you’re a seasoned player and can keep pace with the game (posting your blinds, acting in turn) this is a great approach. In some cases house rules prohibit you from using electronic devices at the table, so you’re forced to deal with these issues another way. What then?

Simple psychology – ignore them. Just like that kid in high school that wanted all of the attention; if you ignore them long enough they’re bound to stop. Or at least select another target. Either way, you’ve achieved your goal of minimizing the effects of the noise as it pertains to your poker game. Another tip is a level of meditation – put yourself in another place. Not so much that you lose track of the game but imaging you’re playing in a calm, serene location (snow, ski, or the beach – whatever floats your boat). You’d be surprised at how well this works.

Worst case – report the offender to the Dealer or the Floor Manager. If it’s that bad they will likely be given a stern warning and/or asked to leave the property. I would like to qualify this advice with more advice – If the person is a weak player and is losing money hand over fist, you may run the risk of making other players at the table angry by following this tip. Use your better judgment before trying to get anyone removed from a game.

Online tactics for dealing with noise

In the online poker world, it’s considerably easier to deal with this type of distraction. Turn off the chat box. Seriously, the chat function is not an effective tool anyway unless you’re negotiating a deal at the final table with the poker room manager. So unless you find yourself in that situation keep it off. Most rooms allow you to filter out certain players as well so if it’s a specific offender spouting off insults, try right-clicking on their player name. If there’s an option to mute that player then BINGO, you’re in business and they’re out of business! Problem solved.

Final Thought

These are somewhat rudimentary tactics but they do work. Remember, it’s critical that you play at the top of your game when real money is on the table. If the endless banter of these players is something that has distracted you in the past, try these ideas and measure the results. In the end, your bankroll may just thank you for it.

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