Knowing When To Quit



I recently read an article by Daniel Negreanu about knowing when to fold to quit when your ahead, something some players have trouble with.

Some players focus to much on their winning percentage, which means nothing. Players who win more than 75% of the time are overall net losers.

Here's an example: Let's say you're at a ring table every day Monday-Friday. Your winnings are:

Monday 3 hours +$147
Tuesday 2 hours +$220
Wednesday 1 hour +$400
Thursday 2 1/2 hours +$160.
So, you have between $900-$1000 in profit. Pretty good.

Friday: 16 hours -$2,210. .

The problem lies within the fact you don't know when to quit. You had a winning streak Monday-Thursday that on Friday you couldn't quit when you were losing because you think that you will bounce back. Thinking that way makes you play poker poorly and sometimes on tilt.

When you are winning, it builds confidence. That's good as your playing poker but remember that you're winning sessions sould be longer than your losing ones.

What can you do about this? Well, When you go to a ring table, decide right then and there how long you are going to play. If you say I'll play poker for 3 hours, then leave the table after 3 hours regardless.

If you are on a losing streak, do not constantly rebuy. It will hurt your confidence, your stack and your game. Leave the table and play another day.

You need to be more disciplined then you can try playing longer and come out ahead.

There is nothing wrong in quitting early if you're losing, especially if your play is not good and you're tired.

Another thign you should do is track your hourly rate, not your wins and losses. Divide your results by the number of hours you've played.

While you're playing, take it one hand at a time and focus on making good decisions. The results will come soon enough without you tracking or thinking about them.


very good and helpfull post, im sure alot of people will like it

as for me I dont always use a time frame, I will use a tripple up or quad up so if I sit at a table with $100 if i hit $300 I will leave, this I use playing 6 man ring game, as for full tables where I do play tighter I use the time frame


Good post T1

I will certainly second the "fixed time" school of thought.

I religiously play with a countdown clock to my side (yes, lol). Click 'Deal me out' button whenever the buzzor goes off. (However I will always rebuy if I bust out on one table within the session; but if players are easily tilted then not rebuying too much is probably sound advice, especially given the very common bankroll mis-management that appears in about 30 posts a day)

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I use a 25% therory. I don't play in high stakes games usually at .05/.01 or .10/.25 $10.00 or 25.00$ buy in so if I'm up 25% of my stack after a hour or so and my cards dry up I'll leave and take a 25% profit. That is usually my goal when I sit at a table any more than that I consider it a bonus. I'm not going to double my stack evey time I sit down and could very loose my profit playing for hours trying. It works for me and I've been making a monthly profit for over a year now


Good post.

I use a fixed percentage of my bankroll as a maximum loss limit for the day. Once I have that figure I play for a predetermined number of hours. If I lose my limit, turn off the screen and go to bed. The exception is when the game is super soft and I've done quite nicely. Then I like to stick around and take advantage as much as possible and really try and hit out for the home run.

The playing for a certain number of hours concept is very good and gets you away from manufacturing winning streaks and concentrating on playing good poker. I think it also keeps you balanced because you aren't playing for a result. I used to have a problem where I thought that I needed to make x percent per session. I'd end up pushing too hard to make money and make mistakes. Once I got into playing for a fixed number of hours that problem disappeared.


This is a good post. but i belive that you should leave the game when you no longer have an edge against the table. For example i was playing at a casion while at a wedding. it was 3:00 AM and i was getting a little sleeply and knew my game wasn't quite as sharp and the drive home was going to be tough. But at this table, their were 2 huge donators(one player rebought to 120 and droped half of that while we were at the table.) to the game. I knew even thought i had a drive ahead of me, the game was to good to leave. My wife and i stayed until the table broke after those guys left at 4:00 we were up a total of $85 at a 2-4 limit game after playing for only 3 hrs....I got down a little at first but those players paid me back and more. you need to leave a game when you no longer have an advantage over the players..

The thing about your example is that you do not know what the losses were on the "friday". it could have been 3 huge suckouts when you were a 70-30 favorite...does that mean you should leave that table, when you are getting all in with the best hand and players are that far behind you? that would be the correct time to stay...

When you are not playing your best or are tilting you need to stop that game.


Well at the majority of online poker tables, having a working brain qualifys you for having an advantage:)

I'll flip yours over :- 'Leave when you clearly don't have an advantage'

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Jack Daniels

Jack Daniels

Charcoal Mellowed
I always stop playing when I run out of money or break the bank. Everywhere in between is based on how much advantage I think I have and if I feel I'm on my game.

I won't ever quit just because of time limit if I'm playing well and winning. And if it is really bad day or something, I will call it off sooner than losing a particular limit. Guess it is like everything else, it's situational.

So, as long as you have a guideline that works for you, that's what matters.


I am reading all kinds of good things here.........Nice stuff

Only in reguards to the fisrt post. I wonder sometimes how it is a person can win a few hundred bucks 4-5 sessions in a row and lose 2 grand on the next ?? I mean WTF ?? I see people all the time at the tables re-buy re-buy re-buy re-buy..I mean com'on if anyone finds themselves in this nasty position you should ask yourself this...Hey would I really be playing poker for fun, profit if I had to rebuy every half hour for 6 hours, 10 hours ?? Losing is not fun, very costly etc.. OR, if I watched someone else re-buy over and over again what would I think about that person ?? Well what would you think ?? I know what I would be thinking and it almost makes me cry...........................

I never re-buy more than once..........if at all. In fact I can count the number of times I had to re-buy on two hands.

My simple logic is this..When I am winning I keep playing. When I start losing after winning awhile I will lose up to half my start stack and quit.

Example....1-2 no-limit 200 buy in......Playing for 4 hours and my stack is up to 470.I start a short losing streak. I am only going to go back a hundred.That's it !! Once I have gone back a hundred I leave 170 ahead.

If I lose my stack on a all-in in the first houir or so and I made a GOOD call but was beat I will re-buy BUT, if I made a bad call and feel bad about it I will get up and leave, VERY IMPORTANT TO ME to never re-buy after a bad call. I have to go home a think about what just happened. I never want to re-buy on tilt.

Doing things this way I have had 30 something sessions in a row without a complete loss.


Rock Star
I try to have a set amount of time that I like to play when I sit down to do it, but if a game is going really well, who knows how long I'll end up staying.

It also helps to know how much of a bonus I have left to clear. For instance, if I've got 300 hands to finish off a bonus at party poker, short of a really disasterous session I'm finishing that sucker off in one sitting. If I decide, for whatever reason at all (inlcuding the great just because reason), that I'm stopping after that, at least I achieved some sort of goal for the day.

That being said, most of the time, I could be ahead on each of 4 cash game tables I have going on, but the moment I realize that I'm not making good decisions is the moment I decide to leave the games....even if it's only for a 15-20 minute break. And that's the key for me: How am I playing? If I'm making good reads and proper decisions, but losing money, then I'm confident enough in my game to believe that the rest of my session will be better.

That's just me, however - certainly no right or wrong answers here.