When Should You Leave a Poker Game

Knowing when to leave a poker game is a great skill to have because not many people have it. Learn when and why you should leave your games.

Kenny Rogers once sang “you’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run,” in his cult classic The Gambler. Poker players could do worse than heed Rogers’ instructions of knowing when to leave a poker game.

They say players should never leave a poker game that is good. They speak the truth. Too many players leave a poker game when it is good and stay too long when it is bad. But why should you leave a poker game? Under what circumstances? The following passage of text highlights a handful of the main reasons.

Cash games evolve as you play them. What was once a great game to be in suddenly turns poor if one player leaves or a good player joins. For example, you have a dream seat in a $1/$2 cash game. You have a loose-passive player to your right, everyone is playing with full stacks, and nobody seems confident in their play. You are $400 up and loving life. However, a couple of players leave and short-stack nits replace them. Furthermore, one of the casino’s better players joins and sits to your direct left. Now is the perfect time to leave a poker game.

You are there to make money and there is no money to win. In addition, the solid player has position on you and will make life difficult.

Leave a Poker Game if Tired or Tilted

There are two major reasons to leave a poker game even if it is good. First, if you are tired. Second, if you are tilted. We cannot stress enough how important it is not to play poker when tired. Playing tired is as bad, if not worse, than playing drunk. Studies show a tired driver is often more dangerous than one full of booze. Your reactions slow, simple calculations become difficult, and you throw caution to the wind. None of those three factors help you play solid poker.

Going on tilt is the perfect reason to leave a poker game. Losing to a bad beat is often a trigger point. Do not try to fight your emotions right now, thank your table mates for the game and leave. There will be another poker game tomorrow or the day after. This is especially true in the online poker world where games run 24/7.

Do Something Else If You Are Bored

Poker is not always exciting with bluffs every other hand and massive pots sliding all over. It is often boring enough to send you to sleep. There are times when the game feels like pulling teeth. Boredom results in you trying to entertain yourself. How do you do this? By playing like a lunatic. Suddenly, Ts-6d looks like a fun hand to get involved in. In addition, you stop paying as much attention, glancing at your phone, and missing out on vital reads and possible tells. Leave a poker game the moment you are not fully focused. Your bankroll will thank you for it.

You Have Lost Big or Are Protecting a Win

Nobody likes losing but losing is a part of poker. Nobody wins if nobody loses. Suffering a large loss is a good reason to leave a poker game. Attempting to win your money back is hardly ever a good thing. Furthermore, substantial losses often lead to tilting or playing suboptimally at the very least.

The same is true if you are protecting a win. Image you are up $600 in a $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em or Pot-Limit Omaha cash game. It has been a long time since you returned home with three buy-ins extra, so you find yourself not getting involved in pots you would ordinarily. Now is the time to go. Enjoy your winnings, do not give your opponents the chance to win their chips back while you play passively.

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.


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