Poker can bring out the best and the worst of most people. One of the biggest things that separates winning and losing players is the ability to be honest with themselves when they are not playing their best. Here are four ways to know that you’re not at the top of your game and need to call it a day.
1. You’re Chasing Pots
Most people have an instinct to try and get something back if they lose it, and I’m not just talking about money at the poker table. It’s not surprising that when some players lose a significant amount in a session, they get more aggressive and often refuse to give up pots.
The result is throwing away money by committing too much with weak hands. It’s also hard to stop playing this way once you start, so even if you are fortunate enough to win a few big hands, it often goes right back.
If you notice that you called a bet you wouldn’t normally or made a raise that you shouldn’t, you’ve probably already started chasing pots. While this is something you can work on over time, the first step is realising the problem and walking away for a break.
2. You’re Playing to Beat Someone Else
Poker often becomes a personal game, but the best players avoid letting it degrade to that. If one particular person wins a few big pots off you, it’s natural to want to try and beat that specific player. You’re even more likely to feel this way if he or she was lucky to win those.
This is a matter of ego and pride. Instead of trying to get involved in every pot with your villain and trying to beat them to show your poker superiority, realize that there is incredible variance in poker and your goal should be to make consistently good decisions.
3. You Feel Distracted
Poker is often said to be a game of incomplete information. Winning players have a good ability to observe and digest important information to gain an edge and make better decisions. However, to maximize your information intake, it’s important to stay focused.
If there are other major things happening in your life, good or bad, it’s easy for your mind to start wandering at the table. If you feel like you’re not really paying attention to the game, stop playing, there isn’t much benefit to continuing.
If you really want to play, then take a break and clear your mind. Some people meditate, others go for walk. Do whatever you need to get focused for the game.
Walking away from the table when you’re not playing well is one of the most important skills a player can have. A disciplined approach to poker is needed if you want to maximize your win-rate and overall success.