Some people queue up for hours outside a store for the latest smartphone or console. Others buy a new piece of tech and don’t touch it for a week because they’re too scared to take it out of the packaging.
One thing’s for sure: we all love a gadget.
Tech for poker players used to mean a card shuffling device for home games around the dining table or portable chargers for phones during long sessions in the casino. But with more and more people playing poker online, our needs have changed.
Let’s take a look at some of the most desired pieces of kit for an online poker player.
GRAB A CHAIR
Whether you’re a full-time pro grinding the PokerStars daily schedule or a work-from-home weekend warrior who only fires up a session on a Sunday, chances are you’ve considered investing a new chair for your grind station.
With the ever-increasing popularity of esports and 2020’s global switch to working from home, gaming chairs have never been in such high demand, and if they’re good enough for hours of playing Fortnite, they’re good enough for a long poker session, right?
Well, not exactly. With bucket seats, winged backrests and a high degree of recline, gaming chairs are certainly comfortable, but they might not be best for online poker players long term. According to ergonomictrends.com: “A good office chair beats a good gaming chair in the seating department when it comes to ergonomics. The raised sides in the latter restrict movements and don’t support as wide a range of sitting positions compared to a regular office chair.”
Sitting comfortably during online poker sessions is something we’ve covered before on the PokerStars Blog. While it’s tempting to lounge back in an ergonomic gaming chair while playing a driving game to heighten the sense of realism, we all know that being alert, focused and therefore upright while playing poker is important.
Cornell University published an extensive check-list to ensure correct office posture, and the university’s researchers suggest that sitting with poor posture can create up to 90 per cent more pressure on our backs than standing. It means that you should seek out a chair with decent lumbar support (or even consider a standing desk — we’ll get to those in a moment).
As for the best ergonomic office chairs for your poker playing, what should you go for?
In TechRadar.com’s best office chairs of 2021 list, they put the Humanscale Freedom chair in the no.1 spot. “Humanscale makes some seriously nifty high-end ergonomic office chairs, and the Humanscale Freedom is, for us, the pinnacle of that niftiness,” they write. “It not only looks fabulous – particularly in the leather option, which offers additional advantages in case of accidental drink spillages – but the really clever bit is that the Freedom is designed to do away with the complex knobs or levers that many ergonomic options can baffle you with. Instead, it adjusts itself automatically to fit the ideal ergonomics for your body.”
The upsides? The chair automatically adjusts the backrest to the optimal level when reclining, the armrests can move in tandem so they remain the same height, and you can slide the seat pan forwards and backwards as you please. The downside? It’s pricey, currently selling for $1,169 (~£827) on the company’s website.
For a cheaper alternative, TechRadar.com recommends the IKEA Markus chair, currently £179 (~$252). It’s been around a while and doesn’t have the same level of adjustments available as the Humanscale, but it’s “a sturdy seat which offers a comfortable upright sitting position, with a long back and integrated headrest. Furthermore, the back is made of mesh material to let the air through and provide better breathability, which is always good for those longer sitting sessions.”
Have a look around and you’ll find the best chair for your poker sessions.
Just as the need for a high-quality chair has increased, so has the demand for desirable gaming desks.
If you’ve ever watched the likes of Lex Veldhuis and Ben “Spraggy” Spragg play poker on Twitch, you’ll have noticed they have adjustable gaming desks which allow them to raise the height of the desk so they can stand up while playing. Standing desks help you burn more calories than sitting, may lower your blood sugar levels, and reduce back pain, among other benefits detailed by Healthline.com.
The requirements for a good standing desk are pretty simple: they need to be easily manoeuvrable and suit poker players of all heights.
According to TechRadar.com, the best overall standing desk available in 2021 is the Uplift V2. It’s sturdy, stable, motorized, and has benefits including anti-collision technology (so it stops when it hits your legs). It’s currently on the market at $549 (~£388).
Online poker players often have multiple monitors (Veldhuis has four in his home studio), so you might require a larger desktop space. For that, TechRadar.com suggests the ApexDesk Elite, which has a larger surface area and comes in two sizes: 60-inch and 71-inch.
“It’s a superbly built standing desk with a dual-motor lifting system, featuring a smooth, albeit a little slow, lifting mechanism (and a controller with the ability to set four preset heights),” says TechRadar. “The lifting capacity is just over 100kg to ensure you can indeed fit plenty of hefty bits of hardware on top of this desk. The Elite is sturdily built with the centre beam providing greater stability (without having to have a crossbar underneath).”
You can grab one of those for $659.99 (~£466). For a cheaper alternative, check out the Flexispot EN1 model, currently priced at £249.99.
COOL GAMING GADGETS
Now you’ll need things to put on (and under) your desk.
Wireless charging mouse pads free up desk space and juice up your button-clicker at the same time. We’ve all had moments when you can’t seem to get your mouse to work while your time bank is ticking down and you have a monster hand. With a product like the Gazepad Pro–which comes with a cool faux leather finish, three wireless charging coils, and a non-slip base–that won’t be an issue.
Standing desks aren’t the only tech appliance helping online poker players burn some calories while they play.
You could also try an under-desk elliptical machine that keeps your legs moving during a long grind. The Cubii JR1 ($249 / £189.99) is one such product that comes recommended by gforgadget.com. It’s quiet, compact, portable, and comes with an LCD Display showing distance travelled, strides pedalled, calories burned, and more.
Of course, now that summer is almost upon us, perhaps you’d prefer to just get outside and get your exercise over with before you fire up a session. But how can you remain cool inside when it’s sweltering outside?
A portable air conditioner could be the gadget you need for your grind station. The Evapolar evaChill somehow pulls off a retro-yet-futuristic look and is affordable at around $100. It’s light, cleans the air around you, and lasts up to nine hours on one fill.