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Poker Mental Game & Planning

Poker House Guide: Rooming with poker players

10,088 Views on 16/3/16

This is your all-in-one poker house guide for rooming with poker players in a grind house. Learn discipline, teamwork, and how to benefit from the house.

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Online poker is often associated with solitary existence. While the "lone wolf" approach is indeed a big part of the game and some of us are at our best when working on our own, teaming up with other players can be very beneficial. Besides, the idea of living with poker friends is very attractive for anyone who ever thought about the subject or watched a "2 months 2 million" tv show. In this article, we'll discuss the idea of rooming with a poker player.

Thou Shalt Know Thy Mates

The personality of the group members will have a big impact on just about every choice that you'll make on your way to setting up a poker house. In the ideal scenario, every member of the group should be active, enthusiastic and independent enough to provoke interesting discussions without seeking unnecessary conflicts. Long story short - your roommates should be good and smart guys (or gals). While social life is much less about EV than poker and the ability to tolerate or even embrace the idiosyncrasies of our colleagues and friends is very important, you shouldn't include someone who's clearly going to be dragging the group down in your poker house lineup.

When it comes to things that are a bit easier to quantify than personality, it's also good to manage the skill level and limits/games everyone's playing. A group of five members playing different forms of poker across various different stakes will progress at a much slower pace than the one consisting of players at similar limits in the same poker format. It's good for the group to have a mentor, someone who's playing one or two limits above everyone else and can assist the group with his superior experience.

For maximum learning efficiency, other players shouldn't span more than 1-2 different limits, otherwise, some of you will be forced to learn or teach strategies that might not be applicable at limits played by others.

Location, Location, Location!

If you're planning on setting up shop in your home country the process will be relatively straightforward and pain-free. You don't have to do a lot of research and it mostly comes down to picking up a good flat or house. However, if you're planning on traveling to one of the popular poker house locations like Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, Canada etc. there's a lot of things you should figure out if you don't want to get in trouble. Here's a small checklist of topics that you need to get familiar with if you're traveling to another country:

  • Poker legislation - Read up on the laws regarding gambling and online poker in the country you're traveling to.

  • Visas - How do you get one, how long is it good for and how to extend it?

  • Vaccines - if you're traveling to an exotic country you might have to get vaccinated if you don't want to catch a nasty disease.

  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) - You might not be able to play on your favorite poker room from the IP of your new country of residence and it might be necessary to circumvent that using a VPN software. Make sure that use of VPN software isn't prohibited in your poker rooms terms and conditions.

  • The cost of living - while some popular poker locations are picked because of the attractive cost of living it might not be true in every case so it's best to be prepared.

There are other things like local customs, communication etc. so if you're traveling to a different country it might be a good idea to consult someone who previously had the chance to spend some time in it. Or take a look at the article "Guide to Playing Poker While Traveling or Abroad " for some helpful advice.

To War Room or Not to War Room

Once you decide on the country you have to pick a suitable house/flat. While choosing something on the outskirts of civilization might reduce the number of possible distractions and is most likely a good idea from the motivation standpoint, it might also be highly impractical and introduce some issues like lack of high-speed internet access etc. That being said living in a dead center of the city where the nightlife is at its most active might lead to an entirely different set of issues. It's best to compromise and pick a location that both makes sense from the practical point of view and won't act as an excuse to party 6 days a week.

The idea of setting up a "war room" that acts as a working space for every poker house resident got popularized by the aforementioned "2 months 2 million" show. While it has a lot of merits and can contribute to boosting the productivity of the group, it might also negatively affect some of us who need their personal space. Going back to point number one of this guide, you should know each other and make the decision to set up a war room in your poker house based on group member personalities and sensitivities.

While in the vacuum it makes more sense to work as closely with each other as possible, it's certainly not optimal in every case.


Whether or not you decide to have a war room in your poker house it is absolutely essential to track the group's progress. Lack of a plan is the best plan for failure no matter if you're working alone or in a team. Here're a couple of ways you can boost the group's productivity and track your progress:

  • Whiteboard - This is a cheap, effective and universal solution. You can use it to track poker goals, winning/losing days (this may, or may not be a good idea depending on the group mindset and other factors), records, challenges etc. The sole act of writing group goals or schedule down and having it visible to all group members every day increases the probability that you'll actually follow through and do what you planned.

  • Trello.com - This is a whiteboard on digital steroids that can streamline your group management process. The only disadvantage is the fact that unlike the whiteboard you can easily get rid of it by closing the browser tab and therefore it might be less effective as a motivational tool.

  • Scheduled meetings - While there's nothing wrong with "going with the flow" and basing the group education on impromptu sweat and review sessions, it's good to establish at least one regular weekly meeting and group learning session that will both aid you in achieving the goals and tracking progress. Again, the frequency of scheduled meetings is entirely dependent on group member personalities, but as a general rule, it's better to set up too many meetings than not enough of them.

Beware of Groupthink!

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
Putting this in simple terms, you might be reluctant to tell your friend that enjoying a Game of Thrones episode with the speakers on is perhaps not the best use of your war room just because you want to avoid conflict within the group. Groupthink can also manifest itself in far more subtle ways, during your discussion about check-raise frequency on a certain board texture, one member of the group might be hesitant to correct the mistake in the group leader's reasoning just to preserve the structure of your merry little band of poker players.

That's why the aforementioned whiteboard and scheduled meetings are so important. You should be aware and control each other (at least when it comes to poker, extending that control on other parts of life can quickly become deeply unsettling) to avoid the "dysfunctional decision-making outcomes" mentioned above.

This is your guide to rooming with other poker players. Applying the principles described above can greatly improve your group's productivity and help you avoid unpleasant situations like turning your "war room" into "Netflix room" or getting bitten by a bug spreading disease that you're not vaccinated for a day after your visa expires!

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Matt VIP

Matt is predominantly a mental game and planning expert, with a terrific knowledge of science, meditation, practical methods of improvement and of course, a good level of poker skill! Look out for his strategy articles and follow him for hi ... Read More


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