Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Art of Quitting Well

History is Philosophy teaching by examples. – Thucydides.

Every single time anyone plays poker, without exception, there will come a point at which one quits the session. No one can play forever. Sometimes one may play for a really long session and sometimes one may play for a rather brief period. It all depends upon ones schedule, priorities, bankroll, mood, level of fatigue, and many other factors. No one but one’s self can know the best time for one to end a given session. I like to quit when I am ahead. In my mind, it is similar to owning a stock that is rising in value but will eventually peak and come back down. One can never know what the peak will be until it has passed and the price is on the way down. People that sell after booking a reasonable profit but before the peak are said to have “sold short”. It is a strategy recommended by many experts to ensure profits. Rather than wait until I have lost back my hard earned winnings, I prefer to ensure a profitable session by leaving while I am ahead, sort of like “selling short” in financial securities. Selling short and quitting while ahead are perfectly fair, legal, and reasonable strategies. Anytime after I have tripled (or better) my buy in, is always a good time to quit. Anyone that thinks it is bad form or unethical to leave while ahead probably doesn’t book as many winning sessions as they could. Why should one feel obligated to keep playing just because he is ahead for the session? Occasionally, I quit when I am behind. I do not like to do so but if I sense I am off my “A” game, then that is a good time to quit. If the table composition has changed to the extent that it becomes unfavorable to me, then that is a good time to quit. There are many different reasons for when to quit, some better than others, but all valid if one believes now is the time for one’s self to quit. No one can make that decision for you better than you can. Quitting well is an art. Think about it. Practice it. If you can learn to quit more effectively than your opponents (because they will inevitably have to quit, too) you have another edge over them.


Gnome said...

Thanks, Tommy Angelo.

Lucypher said...

To simply say his work influenced me would be a gross understatement. I have been inspired by his thoughts on the meta-game aspects of poker.

Gnome said...

Yeah, he's fantastic. I read and gave away "Elements of Poker" to a friend who has to read it, and I'm going to buy another copy for myself.

OhCaptain said...

I'm a big believer in bankroll management. I enjoy poker, but I have a self-imposed limit on how much and where the cash comes from to play.

I'm a husband and a father first and foremost. I started my bankroll a few years ago. It was seeded with money I had saved by not eating out at lunch. Its got a nice little ching to it, but when its gone. I'm done.

To maintain an ability to play without fear of losing my bankroll, I force myself to play at limits and lengths that won't wipe it out. Only then can I play without fear.

Quitting is a key component to bankroll management. Sometimes I quit because I'm emotional not up to the game. Other times I quit because I'm tired. If I've been losing at a regular slope, its time to regroup. Sometimes I quit because the wife is, well, you know...I gotta go.

Quitting because you are broke is losing. Its more fun to play other peoples money.

Anonymous said...

barry greenstein said he normally waits until he has lost back some of his profits before quitting a winning session for a multitude of factors, and that's how the biggest wins are amassed

Shrike said...

I'm a huge fan of "Elements of Poker", too.