6 Ways to Stay on Your Poker A-Game During the Holidays

By Paul Seaton
December 13, 2021

The festive period is always a challenge for poker players. With a dearth of live tournaments, a glut of food and drink on offer, and more time than some of us know what to do with, Yuletide can mean a blow-out in more ways than one.

How can you maximize your poker potential when you’re not at the felt from December until the New Year? We’ve got a six-point checklist that will keep your skills sharp well into 2022.

holiday poker

1. Plan Your Live Schedule

If you’re lacking in live tournaments during December, we feel your pain. There can be nothing more frustrating than having time off without being able to fill it with the great game and December is the month where this happens most frequently.

We’d recommend you get out your 2022 diary and fill it in with some dates to look forward to. Perhaps there’s an event you’ve always wanted to travel to but takes some planning. What better time to make that happen than over Yuletide? Dig into the specifics of what you’ll need to do to travel to countries on your bucket list that are hosting tournaments.

Once you’ve planned your January schedule, look at satellite qualifications for each one and prioritize your efforts in December around playing your dream tournament for a fraction of the price of the usual buy-in. You could end up saving thousands, making this tip easily the most money-saving of them all. Talk about a gift!

2. Play Online Poker

Seems self-explanatory, doesn’t it? If you’re looking to play in January, then winning your way into that event by winning satellite tickets is obviously +EV. But what about the regular online grind?

Just as if you were planning to be doing a good bit of online gambling at casinos and sportsbooks this holiday season you’d be wise to check out sportslens’ list of US gambling sites, it’s also a no-brainer to keep at it while playing poker online if you’re aiming to keep your skills sharp at the felt.

So if you’re not traveling this month, then why not set yourself an online challenge? If you’re a recreational player, this can be as simple as setting yourself the target of winning part of your budget for Christmas presents or a nice bottle of champagne to see in the New Year.

online poker screen

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If you’re a professional, then why not tell yourself that you’ll have your best month of the year between the time your live hiatus starts and the moment you step on a plane in the New Year? December is a month when you can plan your online schedule with a lot more precision than when you’re on the road. So factor in genuine holiday time with friends and family and focus on what you can do on the days in between, adding as much playing volume as you can.

3. Practice at Home with Friends and Family

If you’re going to be at home for a lot of the holidays, or are perhaps visiting family, there’s no reason why you can’t introduce them to the game of poker. Sure, it won’t be the high-intensity game that you’re used to during the year, but teaching others is a great way to stay fresh and appreciate the love of poker from the viewpoint of a player who doesn’t usually play.

It may sound crazy, but sometimes a beginner at the game can introduce some new plays, too. It’s not only the elite we learn from. Also, it is sometimes good to remind ourselves of the patterns and mannerisms that players new to the game exhibit. When you’re back at the live felt, there are bound to be some newbies playing poker for the first time. Being reminded of how those players take on the game can help you beat them more regularly.

4. Study the Game

There’s nothing wrong with trying to improve your own game over the holiday period too. There are several poker training sites out there, so present suggestions to family could be as simple as asking them to contribute to a remote course that you can complete at your leisure over the 12 days of Christmas (“Seven all-in mistakes, six well-timed value bets, five… bold… wins…!”).

If you don’t fancy a training course or are looking for something cheaper, then a variety of video sharing sites will help you study the game in a more ‘bitesize’ fashion. Before doing so, make a list of the 10 biggest weaknesses you perceive in your own game. You’ll then have a wish list for improvement that even Santa couldn’t deliver with more precision.

best poker training sites

5. Learn a New Mixed Game

We all love no limit hold’em, but over the course of the past few years, more and more mixed games have crept into both live and online festivals. If you’ve never picked up another poker variant, you’re missing out, so change that during December.

Whether it’s PLO, Short Deck, or other variants, playing a different version of poker can boost your appreciation of your regular game or even alter your choice of regular game. Make 2022 the year you take on a different poker variant and give yourself more opportunities to win at the felt in the next 12 months.

See Also: Mixed Games Poker Tournament Strategy for Beginners

6. Optimize Your Externals

Poker players have been known to focus so much on developing their optimal game that external factors in their lives fall by the wayside when it comes to the care and attention they need.

For you that could be eating healthier, exercising more, or looking for a lasting, loving relationship. While all those things would be welcome in a holiday movie, it doesn’t have to be about sorting out the grandest of desires.

Optimizing your life could be as simple as looking at the four items you use the most and upgrading them. Maybe you need a new bed to get better sleep or a new pair of shoes that don’t leave your feet feeling like you walked to the next overseas venue upon arrival.

Whether upgrading your laptop or making home improvements, looking at the external elements that need attention could be one of the most optimal plays you have left in 2021. Be sure not to waste the chance… and Happy Holidays!



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Paul Seaton poker author
Written By.

Paul Seaton

Paul Seaton has written about poker from all over the world, and has interviewed the most well known poker players in the world in the pursuit of the perfect poker stories. Having worked events such as the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour, Paul has worked as Editor of BLUFF […]

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