When Should You Leave a Poker Game?

Learn about some of the reasons you should leave a poker game

Knowing when to leave a poker game is a skill developed over time. It is a vital skill to learn, one that has high importance. Not knowing when to leave a poker game leads to all sorts of problems and can lead to you going broke. Nobody wants to bust their bankroll, nobody.

Experts state you should stay in a poker game while ever it is good. The comment makes sense if you think about it. You make most of your money against players who are lesser-skilled than yourself. An almost perfect scenario would be sat at a table with a handful of loose-passive players who are handing over bundles of chips. You want to stay in this game as long as possible.

But, and here is the but, what if a couple of those fish leave and solid, thinking players replace them? The game has suddenly taken a turn for the worse. The game may still be good, but you are no longer printing money at the table. Now could be the perfect time to leave a poker game that looks like this.

Leave a Poker Game If You Are Stressed or Tired

You should not leave a poker game just because it is challenging. It is practically impossible to always sit with weak players, especially as you move up stakes. Playing against good players, players who may be better than you is stressful. Mulling over every decision and not knowing where you stand in hands leads to stress and anxiety.

Playing poker when stressed is a recipe for disaster. The human brain arms itself for “fight or flight” in these scenarios, making thinking deep and clearly a difficult task. This is not a good spot to be in when playing against thinking players, obviously.

Tiredness is another enemy of poker players and the perfect reason to leave a poker game. It is difficult to concentrate on what is going on around you when tiredness creeps in. You miss possible tells and miscalculate pot odds, for example. Neither of those errors is good for your stack.

Consider Leaving If You Are Bored

We love playing poker, but it can be boring at times. We have played sessions where all we do is continually fold hand after hand, looking down at rags and unable to find a spot to get involved.

Playing poker when bored leads to you playing hands you would not ordinarily play. Furthermore, it is difficult to regain your concentration and composure once boredom sets in. A lack of concentration leads to mistakes, and mistakes cost you money. It is best to leave a poker game if you become bored. Try playing again tomorrow; there will always be another game to get into.

When You Are Protecting a Win / Scared of Losing

You are playing $1/$2 in your local casino and find yourself $750 in profit. It has been a great game by the looks of things, which means you should try to stay in it for as long as possible. But what if you are concerned about losing a chunk of your profit to the loose-aggressive kid in Seat 6? What if that is all you can think about?

It is time to leave a poker game any time you try to preserve winnings. Nursing a profit leads to you playing passively, and we all know aggression is key to success. Likewise, you may avoid playing certain hands in case you miss your draws.

The same is said when it comes to preventing further losses. Of course, nobody sets out to lose, and they attempt to limit their losses through good play. But you should leave a poker game if all you are concerned about is not losing. Not playing solid, aggressive poker ultimately leads to more losses, which is quite ironic when you think about it because that is what you are striving to avoid!

Changing Tables / Seats

Usually, players are allowed to leave at the end of the round or game, depending on what game is being played and where you’re playing. However, there are two scenarios that may force players to change seats and tables:

  1. The game breaks up – usually, the poker room staff will direct you to another player if that’s the case.
  2. There are some tables in casinos called “must-move” tables – when the poker room manager has enough players to start a second table, but isn’t sure that there will be enough players coming in to keep both of them going at the necessary levels.

Taking a Break

Taking a break is completely fine whenever it is necessary for you. At most spots, you can keep your seat, and the game will simply continue on. However, if one takes a long dinner break, comes back to get their chips and cashes out, don’t surprised if you get thrown a dirty look or two.

In sum, you can leave whenever you want and whenever you need to – just make sure it’s not in the middle of a hand, even if you’re planning to fold.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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