Find out when it’s time to leave the table

You enter your favourite card room, and the floor indicates that an empty seat is available. As you look at the opponents around your table, you feel like it will be a good day. You are fresh, confident, and ready to print money.

Seven hours later, and everything has changed. You have lost yet another pot at the table, in what is quickly turning into a session from hell. Another 5 hours pass before you walk out of the casino with empty pockets and say to yourself “I am done with poker.” There will undoubtedly be reasons why your session turned bad, but there is one important thing you could have done to change your fate – you could have quit the game earlier.

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Time to leave the table?

Below, we have compiled a list of key considerations when you are thinking about leaving the table. If you recognise some of these situations going on at your table, make the difficult choice, and live to fight another day.

1. You no longer have position on one or more fish

Table selection is key when it comes to cash games, and the longer you are sat with position on weaker players, the longer you expose your money to a positive edge. When this situation changes at a table, consider wrapping up your session soon after. Don’t immediately sit out seconds after your fish does however, as you may offend them by showing that you’re only playing because they are. You want them to come back and play again another day, particularly at higher stakes where player pools are smaller.

2. There is a loose aggressive player who has position on you

Loose aggressive players can be difficult in that they will make you feel like you are being pushed around, and while fighting back always seems the most viable option, inflating pots out of position is simply bad news. Even if you feel that your skill level is greater than your aggro opponent, his aggression and position will put you in bad situations time after time. Don’t allow pride to keep you at the table when your seating position turns sour. Aside from anger, pride is probably the emotion most dangerous to your profit margins. If you wouldn’t pick your seat when looking for an open one at the start of a session – then don’t stay sat in it.

3. There is a skilled player who has position on you

This may sound similar to the previous point but, there is a difference. Isolating fish for example, becomes almost impossible when a skilled player with position on you knows exactly what you are doing. Earlier you were playing many pots in position against a weak player, but now you are being 3 bet and are forced to play out of position against a good player if you want to continue. Highly skilled players will put you in very difficult situations postflop too, so don’t keep giving them that opportunity.

4. The game is getting too big for your bankroll

You may feel that when you choose your stakes at the start of your session, you also choose the size of the game, and that the size will remain constant. The truth of the matter, is that as players are stacked and reload, the amount of money on the table rises. Over several hours, the $1/$2 game you joined can be playing almost as a $2/$5 or higher. Straddles will also have a serious effect on game size.

5. You have lost too much and must drop stakes due to bankroll management

Strict bankroll management isn’t sexy and cool, and it won’t make you feel like the high stakes legend you’d love to be, but it will keep you grounded in reality and making the good choices that could eventually carry you to great things. You should have a clear idea of how many buy ins you need for each stake level – 25 is a reasonable example. I you sit at a game with 30, but lose 6 buy ins, you must now sit out. Patience, and self discipline will make sure you don’t end up flat broke with your confidence crushed and no bankroll to build your dreams upon.

6. You are physically tired

The problem with feeling tired at the poker table is often that you feel like your decision making process is still the same and has not diminished in quality. The truth is that most of your choices will be the same, but that’s only because many decisions are automatic when you have been playing poker for years. When you are put in a situation where you have to make a difficult judgement call in a complex spot, that’s when exhaustion will catch you out.

7. Your emotions are driving you

Emotions have an important place in poker, even negative emotions like anger can be used to motivate yourself to focus on studying away from the table. The nature of an emotional problem while sat at the table however, is immediate and psychologically unbalancing Any emotion can cloud decision making when it becomes overwhelming – that includes positive emotions like feeling invincible when you are running good. Don’t open 10% more hands than you normally would just because you’ve been running hot – that’s a sure fire way to burn through the money you just made by running well.

8. You feel that you are being cheated

This is a difficult one because sometimes anger when experiencing extreme bad luck can make you wonder if you are being cheated, or second guess yourself when you feel you may be. Look at it this way – if the thought is crossing your mind because you’re tilted, you have reason to quit the game simply because you are tilted. If you are right, and the game is crooked, you have even more reason to leave.

Article by Craig B.

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