Knowing When to Leave the Table

By August 2, 2009 Poker, Tilt 2 Comments

Before my previous session of live poker last night, I was hoping to run into some interesting spots to post in my blog and generate some discussion. Instead, I proceeded to play the most boring super standard poker session ever. On the drive home a whole new entry was on my mind; I should have left that damn table 2 hours ago!

There are some forms of tilt which are much easier to spot than others. Last night I was a victim of a hidden type of tilt that has haunted me before in the past. I became bored, frustrated and tired, but still kept playing. I fell victim to the “just one more hand” disease. It can also be known as the “just until I get even” virus, but it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s tilt.

The session started off fine, 8 other people at the table and 7 of them were huge donks. Most were short stacking, but all in all was a good table. Everything was looking promising and I was excited to play. But after 3 hours, the table started breaking and we were down to just 5 players. There was hardly any money at the table, I become bored and thought about just leaving.

At this point I was up a small amount, around $80 or so, but I didn’t feel like I fulfilled what I wanted out of that session. I wanted to keep playing to find that interesting spot or stack that stupid donk. Big mistake. Instead, what ended up happening was me playing horrible because simply put, I didn’t want to be there.

So why was I still sitting if I didn’t want to be there? I was just waiting for the button to come around one more time, then when it came I decided just 10 more hands. Then I said, okay just 20 more minutes and it kept going until I was on life tilt. I know better than this, I should have known when to leave the table.

It’s fairly obvious that you don’t perform a task as well when you don’t want to be doing it, and it’s no different when it comes to poker. The cause for this was probably due to the preconceived notions I had for this session. Like I said earlier, I was excited to play. It was my first live session in a while and I wanted to have some fun. But then I found myself card dead at a table full of quiet nits, bored as hell. I didn’t get what I wanted out of the session. I probably told myself 10 times that night that it’s time to go, but just wanted one more hand.

Well, that one hand never came. In fact, what ended up happening was me spewing and donking off all of my profit, plus another $140. I did run into some bad luck, so it wasn’t all due to tilt, but the point is I wasn’t playing my best. I should have left when I felt it was time to go.

This may seem like a concept that I am over analyzing, but leaks like this add up. You might be thinking, “You wouldn’t be writing this if you ended up winning another buy-in.” However, that’s not true. I was emotionally drained and ready to go home. Going into any session and staying until you meet whatever need or goal you had in mind is stupid poker. You can’t and won’t win every time, it’s just not possible. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go in expecting to win, you need confidence, but there is too much randomness involved. You can’t say “I’m not going to leave until I make $500 this session.” You have to take it one hand at a time, and see what develops.

From now on I am going to make an effort to listen to the voice inside of my head when it says “it’s time to quit!” When I’m bored, tired, or my head isn’t in the game, I don’t play as well. When I quit, the game will still be there, and I can come back refreshed and ready to play next time.


  • JGB146 says:

    Barry Greenstein commented in “Ace on the River” that the major edge he enjoyed when he was first building his success was that he was able to be fully prepared, engaged, and aware at the tables. He said that put him on a different level than all of the guys who played exhausted after a full day of work. Could you be the next Barry?

  • admin says:

    Barry ain’t got nothin’ on me! 😉

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