If you’re a casual poker player who likes to log on and play a few hands every week, pretty much any laptop, desktop, or even tablet device will more than suffice, especially if you just play one or two tables at a time.
For more serious online players, though, you’ll definitely need to pay a little more attention to your setup, as top players can easily log 500,000 or more hands over the course of the year. You’ll need a machine that can handle that sort of volume but also one that lets you play poker as efficiently as possible, with small improvements here and there adding up over that many hands.
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It’s difficult to play a lot of hands on most laptops so you’ll likely need to invest in a decent desktop computer, but you don’t necessarily have to go nuts with a high-end system. Most online poker clients are pretty lightweight applications with no intensive graphics so a poker PC doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles. Pretty much any new desktop you buy today will have a processor up to the task.
The more RAM you have the better, especially if you’re going to be running other software aids when you play or playing on multiple online sites at the same time. Keep an eye on the graphics card, as you’ll need to be able to run two, three, or even four monitors at the same time. Check to see that your system has a graphics card with Dual-DVI video outputs or simply upgrade the graphics card later yourself.
Your real expense for the perfect computer setup for online poker will likely be monitors, as you need at least two high-quality monitors so that you can play multiple tables and sites easily without any overlapping of the tables. It’s possible to tile or cascade tables on a single monitor but most players prefer to be able to see each table on the screen at all times, and find it helps them increase their overall profits.
Picking out a monitor is often a matter of personal choice so shop around for flat-panel monitors that you find easy on your eyes and make sure they’re large enough for you to fit the necessary number of tables on them without having to reduce the size of the tables too far. Squinting at your monitors for eight hours+ each day can lead to headaches, eye strain, and a generally uncomfortable experience.
A standard mouse does the job but many serious players invest in an ergonomic mouse or arm rest to reduce wear and tear on wrists and arms as much as possible. Online poker requires a lot of repetitive mouse clicking so it’s worth it to invest in a nicer mouse.
The same applies to a desk and chair, as while any will do you want to be as comfortable as possible given the long sessions you may be paying, so spending a bit more initially in a nice chair and desk can pay off bigger dividends down the line.
Stats programs like PokerTracker and Holdem Manager are must-haves for most online players, giving you the chance to not just track your own stats and results but that of your opponents as well.
More specialized programs like TableNinja can also be useful, as they allow you to hot-key certain common tasks (like folding or shoving all-in) so that you can use keyboard buttons for those tasks instead of having to use your mouse.