When to leave a poker table?

leave the poker table
Today we are going to dive into an email we got recently. We have a very uncommon but valid question from Martin R., which has very little to do with a specific hand and more with table dynamics. Martin R. asked us the following:
“Hey guys, when do you need to leave a table? I play in my local casino and always buy in with $150 in a $1/$2 game, but when should I leave the table? Should I go when I double my money or should I stay until I am busted out, or whenever? Please help as I feel I lose a lot of money weekly by not leaving at the right time”.
Thanks, Martin, for that question. There is no “correct” answer to this question, but there are a few answers that can make it a bit clearer when you “should” leave the table you are playing at.
The most important reason to leave a table is when the profitability has left. Simply put: When the fish leaves...get up and go! A lot of times you will find yourself sitting in a cash game and you know straight away the player everyone is gunning for. It could be a loose player or a drunk guy making all the wrong moves, but very soon you will see who it is. Now as soon as that player leaves and you are less capable to beat the other players you should leave. Whether you have a $10 profit or a $300 profit does not matter. The ODDS are not in your favor anymore. At moments like these you need to consider poker as a business and make the right business decision.


Another good moment to leave the table is when “tilt” is setting in. This might happen for many different reasons, even something as simple as someone next to you sneezing on top of their chips. This might upset you (as it would me) and this could possibly cloud your play. As soon as something like this happens it’s time to pack up and leave the table. You might even need to leave the game completely and come back another day, but definitely leave the table. Often it can be seen in other players (pay attention to this and use it). For instance, if the server is taking 10 minutes to bring a drink, they start to look around and get anxious and snarly about it. This is also a form of “tilt” which you can use against them. Make sure you leave the table when you yourself fall victim to this mood.
The last reason we will look at for leaving the table is monetary in nature. You might just sit down at your table with $150 looking to make 50% on the night, so as soon as you hit $225 in front of you, you should leave. This is a perfect strategy to protect your winnings and to make sure you will not give it all back again. A commonly used strategy is to wait for the button to pass and then leave (as you will play one more hand in perfect position), but don’t make the mistake of saying “ahh, well...one more round then”...This is a perfect setup for disaster to happen quickly.
These are just a few reasons you could have for leaving a table early, but sometimes it will be more profitable to stay and maybe even go over your “planned” hours. If a game is profitable to YOU there is no reason to leave it. If the fish is still there or if you are just outplaying your opponents there is no reason to go and look for a higher stakes game or a different table with nicer people on it. A table with worse opponents is the best table you can find, no matter how nice the people at the other table look. You are not there to make friends; you are there to make money!
Often people take the last statement with a grain (or two) of salt, but it is a severe problem. I have seen countless people checking the nuts on the river, because “don't want to take your money, bud”...This is THE worst thing anyone can do at the poker table. It is costing a lot of money in the long run and believe me, no one will return the favor. If they do, they have an ulterior motive, as the number one rule in poker is to maximize every single opportunity!
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