28/08/2008

Knowing When to Quit

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Victoria Coren wrote an article last week about the secrets to beating the online games. I noticed that a few people gave her a bit of stick but I think that the fair thing to do is to give the benefit of the doubt as it was a very short article and nothing ever comes across properly like that... I should know.

Anyway the point of this article is to basically follow on from what Vicky said in that article about quitting games. I know that stock market traders treat having a good exit strategy even more important than having a good entry strategy and I think that the same can be said with regards poker.

I know that you have all heard the old advice about never quitting a good game so I won’t repeat that here. But I really think that there are complex issues at work here and it isn’t always straight forward when it comes to deciding on a good exit strategy for cash games.

I think that there is an awful lot to be said for having short sessions and I know that this really helped my game tremendously when I did this. Of course it is “horses for courses” but I think that this just underlines that what may be good or bad for one may not necessarily be good or bad for someone else.

I think that I have mentioned before on this forum about my low concentration span and now my cash game sessions last no more than two hours with three hours as a maximum. I just know that my play will suffer after that and the overlay that I previously had may no longer exist!

Its not that I go on tilt or anything like that but little things start to creep into my game that didn’t happen before. I start to make automatic plays or to overpress in situations that don’t warrant it and that is a sign that I am getting bored.

Also there are other potential strategic reasons to quit a game. Its bad enough having really good players on your table at the best of times but when one comes and sits on your left then you not only have a good player on your table but you also have a good player who has position over you. Now this alone doesn’t automatically signal that its time to leave but it isn’t a good sign for many players.

I know some players who like to use hit and run tactics. They go onto a game at say 400NL and look to make one or two moves within the first two or three orbits. Most of the time they pick up $70-$80 and they are gone. They feel that the game conditions have deteriorated based on their overall style and MO.

The 400NL is a fair level these days and I can see the merits of this type of strategy and why players leave games so suddenly when they get ahead. The table hasn’t yet had time to get an angle on them and it is too soon for a pattern to emerge and as soon as one does then the player is history.

Table hopping from game to game can prove quite lucrative if no one gets an angle on you. Certain other dynamics could come into play as well that may force you to leave the game. For instance if you have a style of play that prefers to be against other deep stacks then sitting at a 600NL against four players with one hundred dollar stacks may not be in your best interests.

Personally I prefer to play against the bigger stacks because when this happens then I am going to find many players who are shot taking at that level or who haven’t got that much of a bankroll behind them or who simply do not understand bankroll management or variance. What this means is that I can generate far more fold equity against these types of players by making certain moves which I couldn’t do if the money was shallow.

But if these players left the table, I am not saying that I would leave but the table conditions would have deteriorated based on my style of play and if its one thing that I don’t like, its playing in a game with little money on the table relative to the blinds. But for instance, let us say that you only have twenty hours a week to dedicate to playing poker. It may just help your game tremendously to spend less time on the tables and more time analysing your sessions.

I am not saying that you should deliberately end a session just to analyse your game, all I am saying is that there are a myriad of complex factors involved that determine when is the correct time to not only enter a game but to exit it too.

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