How Long Should Your Poker Sessions Be? (For Pros and Amateurs)

How Long Should Your Poker Sessions Be?
Something that people often ask me is how long should your poker sessions be. Should they be 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours or more?

Well, here are some very rough guidelines

In general your poker session should be about 1 or 2 hours at the most if you are a beginner. If you are a professional poker player then your poker session can be anywhere between 2 and 8 hours. You should also take several short breaks during your poker session.

But the right poker session length for you might be different. It depends on what games you play, how many poker tables and how good your concentration is among other things.

So in this article I am going to talk about how long your poker sessions should be and also give you some tips on how to play longer and stay more focused.

Number of Tables Determines the Length of Your Poker Session

The first major factor in how long your poker sessions should be is how many poker tables you play.

Because the thing is that it is going to take way longer to put in the hands for someone who only plays 1 or 2 tables compared to someone who plays 20 tables at a time.

Now of course I am talking about online poker here where you can multi-table like a maniac if you want. Here is my complete guide to playing 20 or 30 tables at a time by the way.

However, I don't suggest playing this many poker tables really anymore because it takes away from your ability to table select and make good poker decisions.

Both of these are absolutely vital to your success in today's games.

However, the bottom line is that you need to pick the right amount of poker tables that is best for you. If that is 1, 10 or 50, that's up to you.

In terms of session length though, let me tell you from experience that anything above 20 tables for me is very mentally draining.

I have a lengthy history of competitive gaming and 20+ tabling online poker still wears me out in a few hours. If I was only playing 4 tables I could play all night though.

So if you are a huge mass multi-tabler at the online poker tables it will be very important to take frequent breaks to give your brain a rest!

Shorter Poker Sessions When Running Bad

The next consideration for how long your poker sessions should be is if your are running good or you are running bad.

Now people often ask me how long they should play if they are running good, catching every flop, coolering everyone and so on.

My answer is always the same:

Play as long as humanly possible!

The reason why is that when you are running lights out at the poker tables you are more likely to be thinking very clearly about the game and feeling very confident as well.

You always want to maximize your time spent playing poker when you are in this mental state because you will be at your most profitable.

Now, while our results from session to session literally mean nothing from a mathematical perspective, the bottom line is that they do often impact our level of play considerably.

So this is why I also suggest that if you are running particularly bad (missing every draw, they are hitting everything and coolering you), then I would cut your session short.

Because when you are running like absolute crap you are more likely to be in a poor mental state, perhaps with feelings of hopelessness and frustration as well.

Basically, you are playing your worst and least profitable. In fact you might even be the fish, you might not even be a profitable poker player when in this mental state.

A huge part of winning at poker is simply maximizing your time spent at the tables when you are thinking clearly and playing great and minimizing your time at the tables when you are thinking poorly and playing bad.

Use Hand Quotas To Determine Poker Session Length

Alright, so let's get down to some actual numbers here.

Instead of focusing on the length of time that your poker sessions are, I actually suggest that you focus on the number of hands instead.

It will often tell you how many hands you have played at the online poker table itself or you can just quickly check in PokerTracker.

The reason why I suggest focusing on hand targets is because we all play a different amount of tables. And some formats also deal much faster than other as well (Zoom for example).

So I suggest for beginners and poker pros alike to set a certain amount of hands (a quota), that you intend to play before you even sit down to play.

For me personally, I would aim for 3k hands in the past when 20+ tabling. These days I aim for only 1000-1500 hands because I play a lot less tables.

I know that at my typical table count of 8-10 that I can play 1500 hands in about two hours. Sometimes I will quit for the day completely at that point, especially if running bad.

But if I am feeling good and have the time, then I will usually take a short break, have a light meal, and put in another session aiming for 1000 to 1500 hands once again.

The numbers are kind of arbitrary though and might be different for you depending on your average poker table count.

Keep in mind that these are the average hands per hour in online poker:

  • Full ring - 75
  • 6max - 90
  • Zoom - 200 - 250

So if you typically play 4 tables of 6-max, and you think you can stay focused for 2 hours, then your target might be roughly 700 hands.

4 tables of 6max = 360 hands per hour x 2 = 720 hands.

You can of course adjust these numbers depending on how many tables you typically play and how long you think you can stay focused and playing your best.

How to Make Your Poker Sessions Longer: Improve Your Concentration and Focus

So one of the most common questions I get is how do you improve your focus and concentration at the poker tables.

For some people, they tell me they get bored or distracted after 30 minutes or an hour. Well, as with most things in life I would first say that practice makes perfect.

If you start grinding every day, like I always suggest if you are serious about having big time success in poker, then aim to play just a little bit more each day, even if only 5 minutes or 50 hands more.

This repeated practice of playing every single day and increasing my concentration was how I got up to playing 10k hands a day at the peak of my heavy grinding days.

Secondly, if you want to improve your concentration at the poker tables then the big 3 (as I call them) are so unbelievably important:

  • Good sleep
  • Good nutrition
  • Regular exercise

Seriously, if you want to get the best results in poker then you need to approach this game like a professional poker player would.

I would also suggest that you always avoid playing poker right after eating a big meal as this can make you feel sluggish. Success in poker requires crisp clear thinking.

I personally have practiced intermittent fasting for years.

So I like to play online poker in the mornings fasted while just sipping on black coffee. I believe this allows me to be in peak mental shape and play my absolute best.

Music or No Music While Playing Poker?

Lastly, a common question I get is should you listen to music while playing poker and if so what kind. I think the answer to this is always going to be a bit subjective.

For me personally, yes, I almost always am listening to music while playing poker. I do think that it helps improve my concentration and keep me engaged for longer periods of time.

I am personally into a wide variety of different kinds of music but when I am playing poker I want something that has a fairly quick beat (although not too fast), is uplifting/positive and has minimal vocals.

So for me, trance, progressive or house music is absolutely perfect for this. I love to listen to hip hop, rock, metal or podcasts when working out at the gym, but not when playing poker.

If you want an actual suggestion, I am very often listening to A State of Trance by Armin Van Buuren when playing poker.

This is a 2 hour non-stop weekly radio show hosted from Amsterdam by one of the most popular DJs in the world. The music is all trance and progressive.

I have been listening to this show for like 10 years. It's perfect for me and each episode is roughly the length of my poker sessions as well.

It is important to figure out what works for you though. And if you play better with no music at all, then that is fine as well, do that!

Final Thoughts

So how long should your poker sessions be?

Well, for a very rough general answer I think beginners should play 1 or 2 hours at the most before taking a break. Experienced pros can play for longer periods.

It also depends a lot though on how many tables you play, how good or bad you are running and how good your level of concentration is.

You should only play the amount of time that works for you personally to play your best. Do not try to play 4 hours or 8 hours straight because some poker hero of yours does that.

Do what works for you personally. If that is only 30 minutes right now on one poker table, then that's cool. You can build up your ability to multi-table and play longer through repeated practice and experience.

I would personally suggest aiming for hand targets or quotas though especially when playing online poker. I think this is a much easier way to determine the length of your poker sessions.

Before you even begin playing poker just say I am going to play 200, 500, 1000, 2000 or whatever amount of hands.

Lastly, healthy living (sleep, nutrition, exercise) is undoubtedly going to help you greatly in alleviating tilt, focusing longer and ultimately playing better.

Music also may or may not help you concentrate and stay upbeat and playing poker longer. You need to figure out what works for you though!

If you want to know how I played millions and millions of hands of online poker and created some of the highest winnings in history, make sure to pick up a copy of my free poker strategy guide.

Let me know in the comments below how long your poker sessions are. What do you do to increase the length of your sessions and maintain focus?

If you found this article helpful, do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or "Tweet" below. Thanks!

How long should your poker sessions be?

10 Poker Secrets the Pros Don't Want You to Know About

Poker Secrets
Professional poker players keep a lot of secrets about how they play that they would rather most amateurs don't discover.

These are the tips and tricks that allow them to get ahead and keep winning while most people continue to break even or lose and complain about their "bad luck."

So let's dive right into the top 9 poker secrets that most poker pros don't want you to know about!

1. It's Not Really About the Cards

Most poker amateurs focus much of their attention on the cards that they are dealt. And they get frustrated if they go "card dead" for extended periods of time.

However, poker pros know that the large majority of hands in Texas Hold'em do not go to showdown. Therefore, why does it even matter what you have?

One of the biggest poker secrets that the pros use to abuse the amateurs is to hammer on them in position again and again and use position to bluff them out of the pot.

It's not always about the cards in poker.

2. Never Show a Bluff

Another secret that the pros have is they never show a bluff. Amateurs love to proudly display their 72 offsuit when they bluff somebody and have a good chuckle about it.

But poker pros know better than to give out free information like this.

They know that it is much better to let that doubt fester in their opponent's mind about whether they got bluffed or not. It's not worth the quick little ego boost by showing the bluff.

Poker is war. Never give your opponents any free information, ever.

3. Sometimes You Have to Fold Your Aces

One of the biggest reasons why amateur poker players lose is because they get married to a big hand like pocket aces or pocket kings.

Poker pros know better. They know what AA and KK are just one pair and they can and will routinely get beat.

It is very important that you learn to get away from you big overpairs sometimes. This is especially the case on really wet board textures against tight passive opponents.

4. All the Money Comes From 10% of the Players

Another one of the biggest poker secrets that the pros know very well is that the vast majority of their winnings comes from about 10% of the player pool.

These are the huge whales, fish, fun players, whatever you want to call them.

If you play online poker and use a HUD then these are the guys who will be playing 40% or more of their hands, chasing every terrible draw and so on.

The pros would rather not play at all than sit in a game without one of these players in it. Because, once again, they know that this is where the money is coming from.

5. You Make Your Own Luck

The next poker secret that the pros know and understand much better than most people is that you make your own luck in this game.

They know for instance that it is very easily possible to run bad for 100k or more hands. Heck, tournament pros know that you can literally go years sometimes without winning big!

But most people focus on one or two unlucky hands from their most recent poker session and proceed to lose their mind about it.

poker secrets tilt

If you want to see a perfect example of this, check out my recent post on if PokerStars is Rigged and go read some of the crazy insane comments it received!

You make your own luck in this game by understanding that the long run is much, much longer than you think. The pros focus instead on superior decision making and outworking their opponents.

The results will follow in time.

6. You Have to Love the Grind

One of the biggest keys to your success in poker is truly loving the grind. The "grind" is something poker pros refer to as the day to day work you put in at the poker tables.

And more specifically the discipline and attention to detail that goes along with that.

I have been known for playing some of the most hands in online poker history at the micros. Millions and millions and millions of hands. Many people thought I was crazy or hated on me because of it.

But what they didn't understand is that I truly enjoyed waking up each day and playing 5k or 10k hands. Win, lose or draw I truly enjoyed the struggle and the journey.

Poker is kind of like weightlifting. You have to fall in love with the lifestyle and the process. Your results over the short term are always going to be all over the place.

Learn to enjoy the grind above all else and strive to be the very best in the games you play. Tune everything and everyone else out.

7. Embrace Technology

Another poker hack that the pros know is that you have to embrace the power of technology to improve your poker game.

There are poker tools and software that can help you get better reads, study your hands, study your opponents, find your leaks and fix them.

poker secrets poker hud

You can also use these poker tools to understand your equity better in all situations, track your results, table select better and even challenge yourself against sophisticated AI programs.

The bottom line is that if you want an edge in today's games, you need to be taking advantage of all the poker tools and software out there these days.

8. Never Be the Same Player 

The next poker secret that most pros will not reveal to you is that they are never the same player from day to day.

As I have talked about several times before on this blog, when you play against me at the poker tables you will face a different player every time.

You may be up against a complete maniac on Monday who is trying to bluff you every hand. But on Tuesday I am a tight passive Nit who is shoving on you with the nuts.

I switch up my play style literally every day. In this way, none of my opponents can ever really get any solid reads on me.

As soon as they think they have me figured out as a tight passive Nit I am triple barrel bluffing them again with 8 high.

9. Become a Lifelong Student of the Game

Another poker tip that all pros know and understand is that in order to succeed over the long run you need to be a lifelong student of the game.

Now don't get me wrong, putting the long hard hours at the tables every single day is more important than anything if you want to succeed in this game.

My typical office:

However, it is also extremely important that you are always upgrading your knowledge and understanding of the game.

Luckily there are so many great resources out there these days created by top notch pros to help you continually be improving your game.

Whether this is poker books, poker courses, poker forums, Twitch streams, Youtube, poker training sites or hiring a coach. It is all available.

Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that you know everything in this game. Because, that is exactly the moment when your opponents will start passing you by.

It is very important to always keep learning from the best and improving your game.

10. Bring Your A-game Every Single Time

The last poker secret that the pros don't want you to know about is that you need to bring your A-game every single time you sit down to play.

This means not playing when you are stressed out, depressed, angry, tired, drunk, high and so on.

This is why many poker pros also focus so heavily these days on the big three: diet, exercise/strength training and good sleep.

Because when you have these in order, you simply have a huge edge on most of your opponents before you even sit down to play against them. You are less likely to tilt, you are thinking more clearly and so on.

If you really want to succeed in poker then you need to approach this game with the same kind of dedication and attention to detail that you would find in a professional athlete.

Final Thoughts

There are many poker secrets that the pros would rather you not know about. But these are some of the top ones.

The truth is that succeeding in this game over the long haul is very difficult. And that is why so few people actually do it.

If your dream is to really excel in this game and take it beyond a part time hobby then you really need to ask yourself how bad you want it and how much effort you are willing to put in.

Hopefully some of the poker tips in this article can help you in your games.

Make sure to let me know in the comments what some of your top poker tips, tricks and hacks are!

poker secrets