When you sit down at your favourite game you should really have only one thing on your mind – playing the best poker you can. If you’re going to be successful you have to bring you’re A-game to the table every time. The question is, how long can you play at peak performance?
Becoming a winning poker player means knowing when to quit. You have to know your own limitations and recognize when you’re on a bad streak so you can get out of a game before you break your bankroll.
My general rule is that as long as you’re playing good poker, there’s no need to quit the game. I absolutely hate it when players set limits on how much to win or lose and use that to determine when they should stop playing.
If you’re on a rush in poker, the game is good and you’re making good money, you should always continue playing. Poker has a lot to do with confidence, and if you’re on a winning streak your confidence is definitely high. You’ll tend to make more aggressive decisions and punish people for drawing. In a nutshell, you’ll own the table.
It can also be a mistake to quit a losing game if you’re playing well because it can easily turn into a winning one with time. I’ve played in games where I lost $3,000 before turning it around to win $20,000. If I had set a guideline for myself to get out after a $2,500 loss, I never would have made the money.
One of the only times I recommend leaving is if your bankroll can’t handle any more hits. If your bankroll has taken a huge, once in a blue moon hit, then it’s probably best to take a break.
Then there are those times when your bankroll can handle a losing streak but you can’t. Although it’s easier said than done, you should quit right away if you’re emotionally affected in any way by a losing session.
A losing streak isn’t the only thing that can affect your mental state and sabotage your game. If you’re tired and need rest, you need to stop playing. Research has shown that when people take any type of test, they do much better when they’re alert and have eaten. This relates to poker as well. I’ve noticed that when I’m tired, I tend to call more marginal hands and rush decisions.
If you want to play your best, you must always feel good physically and be mentally alert so you can focus on the game. Take breaks when you need to because the game will always be there when you’re ready to come back to it.
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