Knowing when to pick up your chips and leave the table is one fundamental poker skill that people often overlook. Whether you’re way ahead or far behind, there will always come a point where it’s better to rack up and leave than keep playing. As the famous Kenny Rogers said, you've got to know when to walk away and know when to run.
This skill is crucial to proper bankroll management. Let’s go through some of the times when you should definitely think about quitting.
When Things Go Wrong
One classic problem is wanting to ‘win back’ our losses. At a certain point, when we keep having to deal with card death or get super unlucky, we might start tilting off. We’ll play bad hands, make risky calls, and lose chips that we otherwise wouldn’t.
This is a disaster for the bottom line. If you aren’t playing your A game, it’s definitely worth thinking about quitting.
For instance, some players might play great all evening, and then after midnight their game goes south, and they start losing chips. At this point, we can follow a “Cinderella rule” and quit the game at midnight.
When Playing Against Fierce Competition
Table selection is another crucial component of poker strategy. We want to sit with the fish so that they’ll ship their chips our way. However, if we can’t find a good table, then we might just want to quit.
If everywhere we look is a shark tank, it won’t be good for our win-rate. Although there are strategies for playing against superior opponents, there’s also no shame in walking away.
When You’re Ready to Lock Up a Win
On the other side of the coin, it’s also a good move to lock up wins when you’re ready. If you’ve won a few buy-ins, you might think that it’s a good idea to keep playing to win more.
What often happens, though, is that players lose focus and become complacent when they’re far ahead. If your brain starts turning off and you begin thinking about what you want for dinner to celebrate your big win, it’s time to pack it in.
How to Quit
The best way to motivate yourself to quit is to practice taking breaks often. No matter whether you’re winning or losing, force yourself to get up every hour or two. Take a walk, grab a coffee, or eat a sandwich.
Regularly taking breaks will help you to develop a habit of taking a step back and assessing your game. Once you’re removed from the action, you can take stock of how your feeling and decide whether or not you want to keep playing.