Next time you are in a casino, take a look at the high rollers: what do they all have in common? If you are watching a World Series of Poker event, what is one of the attributes that all of the players share?
It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, old or young, if you can’t maintain your concentration levels, then it is highly unlikely that you will enjoy long-term success in your chosen hobby, be it poker, roulette, blackjack or any other game for that matter.
The good news is that there are actually ways to train yourself to be able to concentrate for longer periods of time, and that will naturally improve your attention span and focus.
The upshot? The next time you make the final table of a lengthy poker game, or as you enter the next hour of your online Blackjack Classic duel with the dealer, you know that you will have the mental stamina to be able to last the course and still play your best.
Focus + discipline = success
Let’s think about our exploits in the casino as like making a cocktail. To really hit the spot, that drink is going to need all of the right ingredients in equal measure.
From a gaming perspective, we need a healthy slug of discipline. Whether you are playing to a perfect strategy or a more instinctive feel, you still need to have an iron will when staking and deciding your next move – especially when experiencing hot or cold streaks.
Next into the shaker goes our focus, because without that key ingredient, we simply cannot maintain our discipline – and as we know, without discipline at the game table, we are nothing.
Finally, we’ll twist into the mix a healthy dose of luck because, hey, we all need a bit of that from time to time no matter how good our strategies and focus are.
Give the concoction a good shake and you will have a tasty drink – we mean a poker ace or blackjack behemoth who has all of the right tools to succeed in the long run.
As you know, here at Bitcasino, we have published plenty of expert casino guides and information about improving your game from a technical perspective, but this article will concentrate solely on the mental aspects: these are really important, and will enhance your performance to a huge degree if you can implement a Phil Ivey-esque steel in your game.
Let’s face it: you could probably teach an ape basic blackjack strategy (they have been into space, after all!) – so improving your mind game could well be the edge that you need.
First, let’s take a look at how we can improve our attention span during online casino action.
How to stay focused when gambling online
The internet. It’s great, isn’t it? From the latest news and opinions to social media and cat videos, there’s pretty much something for everyone on the World Wide Web.
That’s a bit of a problem though. For gamers looking to carve out a niche in online blackjack, roulette or any other casino game, the list of distractions is almost endless.
Did you know that the average attention span of a human being is just eight seconds, down from an average of 12 seconds in the year 2000?
That’s due to a phenomenon known as the ‘goldfish effect’, which has pervaded through the modern generation of under-50s due to the proliferation of mobile phones, iPads and the like.
The good news is that everything is more convenient and tailored to our shortening attention spans. The downside is that the contemporary casino gamer is suffering as a result.
How do we combat the problem? Here are a few golden rules that all online casino buffs might want to follow to help improve their focus.
#1 – No phones allowed
You know what it’s like: you’re in the middle of a poker game or a blackjack hand and your phone goes off with a social media notification, text or WhatsApp message.
What do you do? Well, of course, you can’t resist a sneaky glance at your screen, and if the content looks intriguing enough, you’ll probably unlock your phone and take a look.
Your focus has now been broken.
Not only that, but you might also miss something important, such as a surprise move from an opponent at the poker table (you might still be trying to get a read on them) or how the blackjack dealer has played their hand.
If you are somebody who is tempted by their phone, whether it’s a sweep of social media or checking emails, eBay or whatever it might be, there is only one albeit very simple solution: put your phone away.
Dedicate yourself to your game for an hour, putting your phone on silent, airplane mode or – better still – leaving it in another room altogether.
Here’s the thing: you probably won’t miss anything. Scientists have actually identified that FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out – actually exists, and was probably born at some point in the 2000s as mobile phones became more commonplace.
However, FOMO isn’t real – it’s a construct of your own mind, and besides, you have far more important things to be concentrating on.
#2 – Silence is golden
Now, this is a contentious one because there are many examples of poker pros and casino geniuses who listen to music while they play.
It’s certainly something that could work for you, and particularly when playing online: if you plug in your headphones, then it might help to drown out background noise and give you that sense of ‘tunnel vision’ that you need.
That’s the point, really: we’re not against music per se, but what is really important is that you drown out any white noise that can break your concentration cycle.
If you are playing online roulette on your laptop or phone while a loved one is tuned into the television, there’s every chance that your focus will wander due to the background interference.
If people are having conversations near you, then it’s likely that you will start to listen in – or eavesdrop, if that’s the case – which again demolishes any hopes you had of concentrating 100% on the task in hand.
In conclusion, music is fine if it helps you to stay focused, but background noise is an absolute no-no for gambling success.
#3 – An app a day
This is linked to point number one really, but if your online poker or casino platform of choice does have a downloadable app, this is perhaps the smartest way to go.
Think about it: if you are playing via a browser, how easy is it to open a new tab and start searching the web for goodness knows what?
But if you play via the app, then you are dedicating yourself to that particular platform, and this will make the job of staying focused a whole lot easier.
#4 – Take a break
Regular players in online poker tournaments will know that there are scheduled breaks every so often.
Our advice: absolutely make the most of these.
It could be a trip to the toilet, the opportunity to catch up with friends and family, or simply checking your phone for social media updates.
In the standard game, you will usually get a couple of minutes at least between rounds, so make sure that you use this time wisely.
If you are playing online roulette, blackjack or any other casino game, taking a break from time to time is recommended. Go and get some fresh air to ‘reset’ your mind: you will find that when you return to the table, you are able to think much clearer and logically as a result.
Tips to help boost your attention span
Experts from the fields of science and psychology believe that we can actually improve our attention span through brain training.
Many of us go to the gym to improve our cardio health or build muscle mass, so why wouldn’t we consider the possibilities of giving our minds a workout too?
Okay, so you might not be able to increase the size of your grey matter, but you can certainly work on a few things that will help to improve your performance at the online casino or poker table.
Here are just a few tips on how you can improve your concentration span.
#1 Deliberate practice
There was an interesting experiment conducted by the scientist K. Anders Ericsson back in the 1970s relating to the notion of ‘deliberate practice’.
The actual mechanics of the experiment are fairly dull – it involved a man improving his memory by continuously trying to recite a string of numbers. However, the takeaway point is that with deliberate practice – the word ‘deliberate’ is key here – we can improve our performance.
Ericsson has made it his life’s work to study geniuses: what is it that makes them so special? And can elite-level skills be learned through deliberate practice, rather than being a natural trait?
Deliberate practice is the polar opposite of what the science buff calls naïve practice – i.e. a sort of passive way of spending your time. In our case, it might be playing a few poker or blackjack hands in our spare time for entertainment’s sake, without really focusing on improvement.
Every time you play your favourite casino games, make sure that your practice is purposeful and with meaning, as this is the only way that you can improve. Think about how you can implement strategies, and be disciplined – even if you are playing a freeroll tournament or using the demo mode option at Bitcasino.
#2 Making notes
When you are playing online poker, it is easy for the mind to drift if you fold your hand prior to the flop.
You should really be using this period of non-involvement wisely, because you can learn so much about your fellow players.
Make a habit of keeping a notepad close by, and write notes about the other players seated at your table. Are they a bluffer? Are they a risk-taker or more conservative? Are they consistent or unpredictable in their approach?
Even one-word annotations will give you an edge, and if you find yourself in a head-to-head, it will give you an outstanding insight into what you can expect your opponent to do next.
#3 Nice and comfy
This might sound like ‘mumsy’ advice, but the point is valid: if you are uncomfortable in yourself, how can you expect to remain focused on your game?
Spending hours sat at the roulette wheel or blackjack table is hard, and it gets no easier even when you are playing online.
Make sure that you have a nice, comfortable chair to sit on, and that any tables are at the appropriate height to avoid neck and back aches.
Your choice of clothing and footwear is important too, especially if you are somebody who struggles with low concentration levels.
Think about it: feeling uncomfortable is just another excuse for your brain to sabotage you and prevent you from focusing!
#4 Do the right thing
Head to Las Vegas and you’ll find that the casinos are only too happy to let you tuck into food and beverages like there’s no tomorrow.
And why wouldn’t they? Fatty and carb-heavy foods will leave you feeling sluggish and lacking in concentration – this is how they throw you off your game.
It’s the same with alcohol: this can impair your judgment and give you a false feeling of confidence – not ideal at the blackjack and poker tables.
The same principles apply to online play, so do the right – and sensible – thing.
Sip a glass of water at regular intervals: this will keep you feeling bright, perky and hydrated.
Some fruits that contain natural sugars can be used as snacks: bananas, apples and raisins are great for providing a short-term energy boost.
If you are planning a long gaming session, then be sure to eat a good meal well in advance. Oily fish, leafy green vegetables, and nuts are known as superfoods that are recommended to students prepping for exams, while dark chocolate is said to improve mental stamina.
If you have read this article from start to finish, then congratulations: your attention span is much better than you might think!
If you can implement some of the ideas in this guide, then you will surely improve your skills in the online casino, and you will be ready to take us on here at Bitcasino! Why not sign up for a new player account today and put your new, improved skillset into practice?
Words: Sean McNulty