Task Manager: One of the Online Poker Player’s Greatest Tools
Online casinos have user protocols that can disconnect in the middle of a poker game. Maintenance and foresight can prevent many session-ending complications.
When you’re playing online poker, a number of factors could sever a network connection or render an internet-enabled device inoperable. And it’s not always possible to predict when a vital hardware component fails.
But a bit of monitoring or maintenance before you take your seat at a ring game can dramatically reduce the chances of you missing the action.
Task Manager is one of the simplest and most practical tools available to Windows users. It’s true that you’ll need plenty of supplementary applications—including antivirus software and a reliable VPN. But a quick peek at the Task Manager can help you curtail resource allocation issues.
Eliminating Memory Hogs
Even high-quality applications and programs can hog resources. And any program can have processes running after the application itself is closed. These types of memory hogs can lead to negative effects, including shutdowns.
Before you open your casino software suite, open Task Manager. Determine if any processes or applications are using excessive CPU or memory. You’ll find this information in the Processes tab, the default tab displayed when Task Manager opens. Click on the column headers to place the biggest consumers at the top row.
Below is what my Task Manager displayed as I wrote this article:
Close Brave Browser and WinEth before registering for a tournament or sitting at a cash game. And keep Task Manager open, in case another application springs to life after you’re dealt AA.
If you’re tech-savvy enough to identify specific processes that are taking up space, go ahead and end their tasks. If you’re not tech-savvy, or to err on the side of caution, leave them alone. Consider a reboot or a reliable optimization tool.
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Monitor Network Usage to Stay in the Game
The Performance tab displays graphical information about your computer’s CPU, memory, disk access, GPUs and network. In addition to keeping an eye on the CPU and memory usage, pay attention to network usage. If something like an unannounced system update or malware hogs the bandwidth, you’ll end up folding, regardless of what your hand is.
Click on the miniature network graph to display a larger graph, as well as statistics. As I wrote this article, a snapshot of my network usage looked like this (give or take a few censor bars):
If I saw this before a poker session, I’d review my open apps and close the ones most likely associated with network usage. Depending on the time of day and the time of the last system update, I’d check the scheduler to see if any update checks might interfere with a gaming session.
Be Resourceful about Finding Specific Details
Task Manager’s Performance tab has an “Open Resource Monitor” link at the bottom. Clicking this link opens the Resource Monitor, which provides specific information about the programs and processes that are currently using CPU, the hard drives, the network or memory.
As is the case with Task Manager’s Processes tab, the columns in the Resource Monitor are sortable by clicking on them. This helps identify resource-intensive processes by placing them at the top of the list.
Since I was concerned about those angry brown peaks on the Wi-Fi graph, I opened the Resource Monitor and saw this:
svchost is a generic name for Windows system processes that execute from Dynamic Linked Libraries (DLL), so I would gladly leave that alone. Crashing my computer to get a seat at a $0.01/$0.02 NL-Hold ‘Em seems counterproductive.
I didn’t see any other network red flags now, though I’d still terminate the resource hogs I mentioned before to reduce my 108% CPU usage.
Additional Software, Hardware & System Considerations for Online Poker Players
- You won’t want several applications and programs open while you play online poker. But you should certainly have your system calculator open and easily accessible. It will be useful for calculating pot odds and implied odds, and essential for tournament play for dramatically reducing the chances of you becoming short-stacked.
- Poker-tracking software can be an invaluable tool by analyzing your hand history and identifying trends and weaknesses. However, check its resource usage like you would any other application; if it uses a significant number of resources, consider running it after a session and importing data files from your poker client.
- If you’re going to participate in a tournament that is expected to last longer than an hour, consider having an alternate internet connection ready in case your main connection is inoperable. Many smartphone providers allow their customers to use their devices as mobile hotspots, though this functionality comes with data restrictions and additional fees.
- If you can afford it (and if you win a moderately-sized poker tournament, you likely can), pick up and implement an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) unit. In the event of a power outage, this will temporarily keep your computer activated in the event of a power outage. This may not be enough to keep you online—especially if your router is not plugged into the UPS or if your internet provider is affected by the outage as well—but at the very least you can shut your computer down properly and worry less about potential surges when power is restored.
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