Saturday, 26 May 2012

Quit While You're Ahead

If you've ever been involved in sports betting you will be familiar with the saying 'quit while you're ahead'.

I have done lots of sports betting many years ago and I would say the saying is bang on the money.

You may think you have some sort of edge in a particular bet but most of the time you will not and the result will be completely out of your hands.

Every time I have a conversation wit a non poker friend they always liken poker to sports betting and tell me I should quit while I am ahead. I then get into the normal discussion about how poker is a skill game and it is just opposite that is true and you should step on the gas when you are winning... blah blah blah

While in general I do believe in that last statement I also think you should tread with a little caution and always consider the merits of having a good mental game of poker.

In this post I briefly want to discuss my thoughts on 2 concepts that I sometimes use in my poker play. They are:

1) Booking Wins &
2) Protecting Your Lead

When I sit down to start a session of poker I am very determined to win that session, in fact I am convinced that I will win that session as I believe that I have an edge in the game I play versus the masses that I will encounter on that day.

If I hit a bad spell of variance or play like a donk then I focus and keep on grinding till I get the win. Sometimes this will take numerous hours but generally I get there. You need to be beating your game of choice to have this attitude otherwise it will not work. When I can't pull the day back from the red it sometimes ends up as a huge loss. My biggest loss days in my poker career have been far bigger than my biggest win days due to this. However I win more than I lose.

This month for example so far has had 26 days. I have won on 23 of those day and lost on only 1 while having 2 days off. 3 of the days saw me make a profit of between $0-$10 therefore probably bringing back a loss into the black.

The point of this attitude is that it maintains a high level of confidence and therefore your game remains strong. If you have a bad run you can cope with it relatively easily as you know you will bounce back. I have seen many players fall apart over the years as they are mentally unable to deal with the downswings. Play hard, play strong, don't tilt and if you have the skills you will win..!! Try to book wins when you are having a tough time.

In sports like football and cricket you often have to protect your lead. For example you are 2-0 up in a game of football and there are 10mins to play, you are playing a 4-4-2 formation and decide to sub a striker and bring on a defender to protect your lead and now play a 5-4-1 formation with a tighter defence.

In poker protecting you lead can help to book those all important winning days and therefore bolster your mental game by enforcing the fact that you are a winning player..!! Now this contradicts the statement I made earlier about stepping on the gas when your winning but it doesn't have. Think about your daily schedule and how many hours you play. Think about what a good winning day is and what you would be happy to bank. Then use a strategy according to how far you are into your day. If you have played 75% of the hours you would play in a day and are up 8 Buy-Ins then consider stopping for a day and booking the win. If you are only 25% into the day and find yourself up 6 Buy-Ins then maybe drop from 20 tabling to 10 tabling and look for good spots to increase your win rate while protecting your lead. Alternatively drop down a league for the 2nd half of the day and be more aggressive and try to win even more while having the cushion of being up at a higher league already.

To conclude this post I just want to emphasise that this post is about helping you to maintain a strong winning mentality in games you are playing daily and happy to be at. If you looking to move up in the stakes which I strongly recommend then you should not worry about protecting your lead and booking wins but take shots and try to establish yourself at the higher level.



  1. Wow, this is exactly how i play and it sounds like our months are very similar. Just had my first 2 losing days of the month dropping 7 & 9bi's and have had a couple of days with 6k+ hands booking a <$15 win, hehe.

    I'm not sure if this method is exactly optimal though. I think that you still need to be able to examine your own play when, say, you are stuck 10bi on the day.You need to be able to really ask yourself if you are playing well/not being effected by being stuck so much that you are able to grind back to even. Sometimes it is just best to stop and start again fresh the next day.

  2. Its a difficult one as we all deal with the up and downs of poker in different ways. For me, having a positive frame of mind is very important and this approach helps me to maintain that.

    I know that it is not optimal in terms of shot taking but I make sure that I do take those shots on a regular basis.

    Its a great feeling though when you pull back a down day. Puts me in a such a good place for the next days grind.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...