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  • Managing Your Poker Session Length In Poker

    poker session length“Quit while you’re ahead.” This is one phrase that is rarely applicable when playing poker. In fact quitting while you’re ahead might be one of the worst ways to navigate your poker career. The problem is that many poker players do indeed play poker with this exact mentality; they book a win and are afraid to play anymore. This type of strategy is fine if you are just a casual player who has no long term edge, in fact it is probably optimal, but if you implement this strategy and are a winning player it is nothing short of throwing money away. Pretend that you aren’t even talking about poker here for a second. Would you discontinue doing something that is netting you great profits? Of course you wouldn’t, you would be doing (whatever it is) as much as possible. Poker is no different.

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    Why do players quit prematurely?

    The reasons include a fear of losing it back in one way or another. Some players might think they were just incredibly lucky to win the money and it is due to end. Since they feel it is due to end they bail out after they land a win. Other players are just scared of losing it back, even if their wins are small. The fear of losing this money back is often much greater than when the money is actually lost. It is human nature to fear things much more than we need to. Phil Ivey is a great example of a poker player who is not intimidated by these unfounded fears. He will often play never ending sessions, sometimes 30 hours at a time. I am certainly not advocating playing sessions this long, but it goes to show you the mindset of a winner. He knows that he has an edge over his competition. Because he has an edge he will exploit it for as long as possible. Phil Ivey is a fearless player and should be a role model for any aspiring poker player, at least when it comes to playing poker.

    Why are these fears so irrational?

    You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, there were plenty of times where I almost quit, but then kept playing and lost back my winnings.” One of two things can be said for this line of thinking. Either you are not an actual winning player or you have discounted all of the times where you kept winning or started off a session with losses that turned into gains. Players often have a tough time remembering that cards do not have some kind of mind of their own. If you win a few big pots you are just as likely to win a few more as you are to lose one. Each and every hand is completely independent of the one prior. Over the long run the odds will even out, but this is a long run made up of millions of hands. Remember all of those downswings that you have endured? Shouldn’t there be a direct opposite effect every once in a while? Yes, there should be, and there is. Players can keep winning just as they can keep losing. Hope for the best, expect the worst, and be happy that you have played your best. If you play poker with this mindset you will be free of all regret.