Poker Tips: What You Can and Can’t Do in a Tournament Break

  • Calling your mother or your father is certainly a good use of any time
  • Why not get those brain synapses firing with some good old exercise
  • Or, you can focus more on poker by playing sit & gos or reviewing hands
  • You could even take the time for boring chores, like laundry or shopping
Poker chips on keyboard
Ever wondered what you should do with your poker tournament break? We’ve got you covered. [Image:]

Live poker tournament players are lucky, when you think about it. Not only do they get their regular 15-minute breaks, but they’ll even get a longer time for dinner, able to eat an actual meal rather than inhaling a leftover pizza in the space of two minutes.

Part of being a true crusher is knowing what can, and cannot be achieved in this timeframe

Not so for the unlucky online grinder. Instead, you’ll get just five minutes every hour to take care of everything else going on in your life and try to maintain your sanity. Part of being a true crusher is knowing what can, and cannot be achieved in this timeframe. Thankfully, we’ve prepared this handy guide.

Take a shower

There are some pros who can get away with this and some who can’t. Poker players either have a two-hour long skincare routine to get through, or can simply jump in and out and dry off with a towel they found on the floor. There’s no inbetween. 

Thankfully, it’s not easy to find out which camp you belong in. Simply go into your bathroom, and look at your shampoo, face wash, and shower gel. If these are all the same bottle, then you should be fine to hit the showers.

Call your mother

This play is used by some pros, but it is highly mother-dependent. Depending on the specific tendencies of the mother, this can be a positive or hugely negative in terms of EV. Use your solver to nodelock in how you expect your mother to be before attempting this.

Call your father


Make food

There’s probably a recipe book idea for any enterprising chefs. Obviously you’re not making beef wellington here, but a sandwich should certainly not be beyond you.

a guaranteed way to end up in a complex spot on several tables at once when the doorbell rings

Delivery apps should be avoided. Firing in an Uber Eats order is a guaranteed way to end up in a complex spot on several tables at once when the doorbell rings. While you’re wrestling with your laptop in one hand and your phone in the other, trying to read the code to an unsympathetic delivery guy while keeping the cat from getting out with your leg, you will time out with Aces or top set on at least one table. So maybe consider that the next time you call off all your stack with third pair because of a timing tell.

Work out

You might think you’re the type of player opponents fear, doing bicep curls while running mental simulations, and getting the resistance bands out during your tournament breaks. Nobody’s stopping you, but you’re still getting snapped off with second pair by the cheeto dust-stained fingers of a half-drunk Canadian trucker.

Play spin and gos

For all this is suggested by major sites, it’s hard to imagine anyone actually doing this who isn’t on a diet of Huel, Ozempic, and Adderall, or is just out of their mind on tilt. Not recommended. Go for a walk, for god’s sake.

Go for a walk

A great way to clear the head, but this probably depends on where you live. Online grinders have a very wide variety here. You could live on a farm, on a hillside in Costa Rica, or you might live in a neighbourhood where taking a 1am stroll is a bigger risk to your bankroll than getting dealt AQ on the bubble. Although personally, if I was an aspiring mugger, I’d not fancy my chances against a man who has just bubbled the Sunday million with KK vs AK. 

Review hands

Dedicated, effective practice is how you get better at poker. Trading expletive-ridden bad beat stories with other people in your Discord is not.

Go on, go back and look at just how little equity they had on the turn

This, however, may be an exception. You’re not going to actually learn anything in five minutes, so you might as well indulge in a little bit of bad habits. Go on, go back and look at just how little equity they had on the turn. Label them a complete mega spewy whale idiot clown even though you would’ve played the hand in the exact same way. Treat yourself. 

Smoke a cigarette

For health reasons, we do not recommend this, but if you are already a smoker, it’s probably a good idea to use this time for an outside, regular smoke break. Look at the stars, take some deep, tar and carbon monoxide-filled breaths, and collect your thoughts. Smoking consistently at your desk is liable to see you go through at least a whole pack during one session. And don’t play live tournaments.

Clean your room

Obviously a full deep clean is out of the question, but you can probably at least take the bins out or wipe down some surfaces. We would recommend drawing the line at hoovering. Your flatmates and neighbors already have enough noise to deal with from you constantly screaming at your laptop without adding that into the mix.

Do your laundry

An absolute textbook use of five minutes here. It is achievable and will make you feel like a god of productivity and efficiency, until you realize you’ve left your wallet in your jeans because you didn’t have time to go through any of the pockets. 

Run to the shops

Did you know that some people do their entire week’s shopping from a local convenience store, and pay entirely in change? You will meet these fascinating creatures if you attempt this. Don’t learn why this is a bad idea the hard way.

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