When To Quit Playing Poker

Deciding when to quit playing poker is a difficult decision to make. To answer this question we first need to break it down into two player types – serious player who want to win and recreational players. For serious players the answer to this question may be imposed on them by losses – however, the answer may not be so simple for recreational players. Since this blog is catered for serious players, I will be focusing on that side.

5 Reasons Serious Poker Players Quit

1) Losing Money

This happens to recreational players, but it can also happen to more serious players. For serious players it is important to know what your bankroll is and have limits. Given the amount of rake that the house takes from pots, your edge over other players needs to be significant. Over years a lot of players become complacent with their skill level and slowly slip into being losers at the games. Variance can make it difficult to know when you have tipped onto the losing side.

2) Poker stops being fun.

Over the past 5 years I have seen some massive changes in the online poker environment. Recent, I wrote an article about why online poker is dying and discussed in some detail issues that are facing the industry. Table selecting has become an increasingly important in today’s games. Unfortunately, as a result of the intense table selection that occurs, playing is more of a grind.

3) Better opportunities Outside of Poker

The majority of the best players in the game are young. After a few years of grinding at poker (live or online) they often come to realize there are better and perhaps easier ways to make a buck. Frankly, I think the vast majority of people who have the skills and abilities to crush it at online poker are likely capable of crushing it in other fields as well.

4) Family.

When you are young and single playing a cash game till 3am at the Wynn or Bellagio might make sense. However, that lifestyle at 40 with a couple of kids might not go over so well. So, I think that as poker players age many of them naturally start to look for a more structured work environment (structured and poker generally don’t go hand in hand).

5) Variance and Stress in Poker.

Ed Miller recently wrote an article about variance and he said that it is “where your edge lives”. Ok, that may well be the case – obviously, we can all agree that without variance the game would die because it wouldn’t be fun for recreational players. Having said that, variance is also the enemy of poker players. It can be incredibly stressful especially if you have monthly bills to meet. Understanding how variance works and managing it is critical IMO. I don’t think that openly embracing wild variance is a good strategy at all – in fact, contrary to some people in the industry I think there are some smart variance reductions strategies that players should employ. Bottom line, I think that variance is a big part of the reason why a lot of players pack it in.

Of course, I haven’t covered all the reasons serious players quit. However, in my experience these have been toward the top of the list. It is easy to get a bit consumed by the game and not know when to pull the plug. I think it is really important for players to know when to call it quits. Sure it may have been great for a couple of years out of college, but do you really want to be grinding it out (live or online) when you are 55? Heck, will you still be capable of winning by that point? The game has changed so much since I started playing about 10 years ago, and I have no doubt it will continue to evolve at a rapid rate. It takes a certain drive and focus to stay at the cutting edge of poker – which, I believe is difficult to maintain for decades.

Hope you enjoyed my post and best of luck at the tables. I hope you will check out my book Exploitive No Limit Holdem.

Paul

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