Having already talked about how to build a poker computer without breaking the bank, it’s time to address the issue of upgrading your old equipment.
Most online poker players neglect upgrading their personal computer, opting to spend their time to improve their poker skills and win even more money. Yet, there comes a time when the computer becomes so slow and laggy, that it actually costs them money to play poker with out-of-date technology.
Hopefully, this post will convince you to invest in your PC, if you are still playing online poker on a Windows 98 machine!
When you do not need to upgrade your poker computer
First things first: if you do not use any poker software other than the software provided by your favorite online poker room, chances are that you do not need to spend any money on upgrading! More specifically, if you only play at a single table and have not heard of multi-tabling, this article is not for you.
Clearly, online poker is just a casual, on and off hobby for you. You will upgrade your PC when various other tasks you perform with your computer call for it and poker will be benefited as a side effect.
For more serious hobbyists who spend a couple of hours playing online poker and have managed to multitable up to 4 tables, you might have noticed a lag, if your machine was built prior to 2005 and uses a quite old operating system. Still, the lag shouldn’t be so noticeable and you might get away for a couple more years.
Reasons to upgrade your poker computer
Ok, how about if you multitable more than 6 tables, while using sophisticated poker software, which tracks your hands, records your sessions and simplifies your game by letting you use keyboard shortcuts instead of your mouse? Sounds too complicated? You’d be surprised to find out how many online poker players have set up their computers in this exact way!
Poker tracking software is considered a must if you want to keep track of your progress and improve your skills. Hence, poker pros and ambitious players have already invested in this kind of software.
However, computer software constantly needs updating, offering new features and improvements. These updates come at a cost: hardware power.
If you first installed a piece of poker software in 2008 in your newly built PC back then, that poker software is a totally new beast nowadays! But your PC has remained pretty much the same. How is it possible for it to cope with all the extra load the updated software brings in?
Sure CPU, RAM and hard disks are still inside your box. But these days advanced poker software benefits from new SSD hard drives, quad-core CPUs and DDR3 RAM modules and in general take advantage of new technology.
Say you don’t care for the extra computer power. Nonetheless, your old hard drives need periodically defragmentation and a format from time to time, new (automatically updated) web browsers have severely reduced the available resources of your machine and other software you use require more power. Power that was once available to the poker software. Now, newly updated poker software does not even have the power your PC was providing right from the start!
Do you expect it to function in the same way?
A lagging and slow computer will cost you money
Ok, you are still not convinced. Let’s talk about something more interesting; money!
You are playing at 4 tables full of fish. Your winrate has skyrocketed and you wish these games never end! And suddenly, your hard drive spins endlessly, the CPU usage hits 100% and you get a message that your machine is running low on memory. The mouse cannot move smoothly and out of the blue your PC crashes.
When you restart, you have to join the now packed waiting list of the tables you were playing before. And by the time you do get a seat, regs (regular winning poker players) are all over the place.
Well, ok, how often does that happen, right?
Let’s consider two more scenarios.
All of a sudden your PC becomes unresponsive. For about a minute. And it comes back up. During that minute you were automatically folded on the river, having invested 50 big blinds into the pot! You were looking for a pot-sized bet to win the rest of your opponent’s stack but now you have just lost half of your stack due to your laggy computer! That’s one and a half stack down from your optimum play.
What part of your computer could you have upgraded with that 1.5 stack?
The second scenario is probably the most common one (at least the one I have experienced more often). Poker tracking software usually displays villains’ stats. Players make their decisions based almost exclusively on those stats, unless they have notes on specific opponents.
If the computer has been experiencing any problems (low memory, CPU getting hot, etc.) these stats can disappear abruptly! Do you remember your opponent’s stats? Should you continuation bet against them or quit the hand? If you had the stats on screen, you could decide if a double or triple barrel would be a recommended action. Now, you get a feeling of sitting naked at the table, anxiously awaiting for the stats to come back!
And that’s not all! A laggy and slow computer will affect your play, will make you nervous and angry and will put more pressure to your game, costing you even more money!
The solution is right in front of you. Invest some of the winnings to upgrade parts of your computer, most importantly the motherboard, RAM and CPU. If you have some spare cash, upgrade your hard drives as well.
Don’t blame your Windows 98 PC for preventing you from playing poker stress-free. Blame yourself for not acting sooner and taking care of your machine, just like any other businessman would do with their equipment!