Choosing the optimal time to leave the game can be the key to both your long and short-term results. This article shows you what you need to look out for when playing to ensure you make the best possible decision, either soldiering on or throwing in the towel.
When to Leave
One of the most obvious reasons you should leave the table is because of your tilt. This is easier said than done. Recognizing your tilt is an important skill to develop. Being self-aware and removing yourself from the situation will ensure a loss from one bad beat does not multiply into many.
Spotting tilt early on really makes a difference. In my experience, it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive. Spotting a situation that could put you on tilt and then taking measures to remove yourself from the game is better than realizing that you are playing differently when it’s already too late.
I like to take a five-minute break each time I lose a big pot, if I make a suboptimal decision or if anything happens in the game that I think could cause me to not play at my best. If this continues throughout the session, I know it’s better, in the long run, to end my session sooner rather than later.
If this fails, some common signs that you’re already tilted include:
- Making fast, snap decisions, thinking about why you did something after the fact.
- Opening a wider range of hands than you normally would.
- Calling raises more frequently in all situations than you should.
- Being more passive or aggressive than usual.
Even the players with the best bankrolls can still find themselves playing differently when undergoing a small downswing in a session. Often you can become money shy, scared of losing any more cash, or try and play more aggressively to win back some of the money you lost. These subconscious adjustments to your game plan aren’t part of a winning strategy, causing you to often lose more money that session or not make as much as you potentially could have.
To alleviate this, I recommend setting a stop-loss before the start of the game. By ending the session, if you lose two or three buy-ins, you can more easily stick to your game plan and not allow your ego or tilt to factor into any decision-making. It’s also a good way to stay disciplined as, ultimately, you’re the one that must stick to this pre-determined stop-loss.
Another part of self-awareness should be gauging your opponents’ skill levels, swallowing your pride, and remaining objective. You must make a constant assessment as to how profitable a game is and be honest with yourself.
There have been times when I’m playing, and most of the players at the game are solid regular grinders. I know my win rate (and overall enjoyment) in that game will not be as high as it could be, so I leave. I know that finding other tables or leaving the casino is a much more valuable use of my time in the long run.
Being honest with yourself and leaving a tough game can be a more profitable decision than trying to play on or prove a point.
Other factors should be factored into your decision. If you have any commitments outside of poker that you need to attend to, you should do so. You don’t want these responsibilities playing in the back of your mind when you sit at the tables; they’ll cause you to play differently from how you normally would and can impede your profits.
You should also consider leaving if you have become overly tired or intoxicated. Both factors will affect how your brain processes information, causing you to make poor decisions that negatively impact the results of a session.
- Recognize your tilt and take measures to control it.
- Set stop-losses.
- Be self-aware of your skill level.
- Try to play the game with nothing else on your mind.
- Don’t play when tired or drunk.