How many hours of poker a day?

The number of hours someone should play poker each day is a common question for those looking to improve their poker skills and potentially make some money playing. While there is no definitive answer, as the optimal amount can vary based on your goals, skill level, and type of poker you play, there are some general guidelines to follow. The ideal amount is likely between 2-6 hours per day for most players. Less than that and you may not get enough volume to improve, but more could lead to fatigue and diminished returns. Finding the right balance is key to maximizing your poker results.

Moderate Play Recommended For Beginners

For beginners or recreational players, 2-4 hours per day is likely adequate in most cases. This gives enough time to get some quality play and work on your skills, without overdoing it. When you are new to poker, there is a lot to learn including basic strategy, your opponent’s tendencies, managing bankroll, reading boards, calculating odds, and more. It takes time and focused practice to develop skills in each of these areas. Starting with just a few hours a day allows you to digest what you have learned, review your play, and make adjustments without getting overwhelmed. As your skills improve, you can gradually increase playing time if you want to advance faster. But moderation is advisable when first starting out.

More Volume May Help Intermediate Players

Once you have a good grasp of poker fundamentals and some experience playing different formats, you may benefit from increasing your play time to 4-6 hours per day. At the intermediate stage, getting more reps can accelerate your progress. The more hands you play, the faster you will improve by encountering different situations and opponents. Putting in more hours at the tables lets you refine your reads on other players, practice implementing optimal strategies, improve decision making, and develop your concentration and mental stamina. Just be sure to take occasional breaks to stay fresh, as fatigue leads to poor play.

Advanced Players Optimal Between 4-6 Hours Daily

For advanced players, especially professionals, the most effective range is often 4-6 hours of poker daily. At this skill level, you have a thorough understanding of poker concepts and strategies. By playing against tough competition for 4-6 hours daily, advanced players can continue honing skills while minimizing fatigue. Top professionals need to put in consistent hours to stay sharp against world class opponents who are studying the game intently and elevating play. The competition at this level demands focused, high quality play for much of each day. Less than 4 hours may not be enough volume, while much more can be counterproductive by exhausting mental reserves.

Type of Poker Matters

The ideal hours per day can also depend on what type of poker you play. Formats like multi-table online tournaments often require more play time, as you need to play through long events and can finish them quickly by multi-tabling. But for live cash games or single-table tournaments, optimal time on task may be lower since the pace is slower. Sit and go’s and hypers can be finished quickly so more volume helps. But deep stack play demands intense concentration that’s hard to sustain as long. So consider adjusting time spent based on your preferred formats.

Your Goals Influence Time Spent

Your specific poker goals should also factor into how many hours you determine is best to play. If your priority is improving your winrate, more volume against tough opponents can accelerate your learning. But if you mainly play for fun as recreation, just a few hours to unwind may be sufficient. For those motivated by profit, again more play time usually means more money. But don’t overdo it to the point of diminished returns. Setting realistic goals tailored to your own desires will dictate your ideal poker schedule.

Maximum Effectiveness Between Sessions

It’s also important to consider time spent studying away from the tables to improve your skills. Reviewing your play, analyzing your stats, watching training videos, reading books, discussing hands, and staying updated on strategy advances will sharpen your abilities. The very top players understand the immense value of focused study between playing sessions. So your peak poker performance requires allocating enough time for both quality play and improvement away from the tables.

Avoiding Burnout

Trying to play too many hours can be detrimental to your poker results. Poker requires intense concentration and continual quick decision making. Too long at the tables leads to mental fatigue, resulting in poor decisions and subpar play. It’s important to take regular breaks to refresh your mind and avoid burnout. Getting away from poker for a while lets you come back recharged and ready to make strong, focused choices. Quality of play is more important than sheer quantity of hours. It’s better to play fewer hours with full concentration than robotically putting in long sessions while exhausted.

Personal Factors Change Optimal Time

There is no universally optimal poker schedule, as personal factors impact what works best for each individual player. For instance, being a parent with young kids at home means less time for poker. Having a full time job constrains how many hours you can play. Individuals have different natural energy levels that change over time. Health, nutrition, sleep habits and many other variables all affect your ideal poker schedule. Maximizing results requires self-awareness to determine what schedule maximizes your personal performance.

Balancing Poker And Life

It’s important to strike the right balance between poker and the rest of your life. While more play time can lead to faster improvement and potentially bigger profits, you don’t want poker to dominate your whole life. Most players need to split time between family, friends, career, health, hobbies, and poker for a fulfilling life. Try setting a reasonable maximum cap per day that leaves time for other pursuits and avoids burnout. Keeping some balance helps retain passion for poker as well as improving results.

Consistency Matters

How you allocate time is also a key factor. Consistently playing a moderate amount daily is ideal for most. This lets you incrementally improve each day while building stamina and avoiding fatigue from long, grueling sessions. But even top pros need to take occasional off days to prevent burnout. Staying motivated by keeping a relatively steady schedule with enough volume supports long term development. Just don’t take too many days off or it disrupts momentum.


While optimal hours playing poker varies based on many personal factors, a general guideline for most players is 2-6 hours per day. Beginners do well starting with just a few hours to learn fundamentals. Intermediate players can handle more volume to accelerate progress. Advanced players and professionals balances sufficient volume with avoiding fatigue. Consider your skill level, poker formats, goals, off table study needs, abilities, and life demands to fine tune your ideal schedule. Finding the right amount of time at the tables while living a balanced life is key for poker success. Consistency also helps build skills steadily over time.

Skill Level Recommended Hours Per Day
Beginner 2-4 hours
Intermediate 4-6 hours
Advanced/Pro 4-6 hours

Further Reading

Here are some additional poker resources if you want to dive deeper into optimizing your poker schedule and improving overall play:


– The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler – An excellent resource on improving mental focus and avoiding fatigue and tilt.

– Applications of No Limit Hold’em by Matthew Janda – Provides strategic frameworks to study between sessions.

– The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen – Help develop your technical poker skills away from the tables.


– Two Plus Two Poker Forums – Discussion with thousands of players on optimal poker strategies.

– Reddit r/poker – Active poker subreddit covering many strategic and mental game topics.

Training Sites

– Upswing Poker – High quality courses and videos on poker strategy and mindset.

– Poker Coaching – Site with courses/videos/blogs from top pros Jonathan Little & Matthew Janda.

– Run It Once – Training site started by renowned pro Phil Galfond.

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