Some say quitting is for the “weak”, but this notion does not always apply, especially in situations where it is more sensible and practical to walk away rather than continue.

In poker, knowing when to stop is actually an indication of how strong and wise you are as a player. You can’t just carelessly continue without assessing the risks. If you know the game is no longer going in your favor, then you better leave the table. But this becomes a difficult task if you’re still a beginner. You might get overexcited for running hot, or get desperate trying to chase your losses. Worse, you might overindulge without you realizing.

There is actually a way to prevent that from happening – setting limits. When you place a certain limit to how much you’re prepared to lose, or how long you can play, or how much money you’d like to win, you can easily determine if it’s time for you to leave the table.

While setting limits quite goes against another school of thought which tells players to stay while the game is good, the latter only applies to the more experienced players who are good enough at sizing up a game.

The Advantages of Setting Limits

So if you’re an amateur, setting limits will help you big time in avoiding potential pitfalls. You can place limits in your play in three ways – loss limits, time limits, and win limits.

Assuming you set a loss limit of $2,000 in a game you’re about to play, if you spent the entire amount via two maximum buy-ins of $1,000, then it’s time to go. No need to chase that loss as it will only lead you to more trouble. If you strictly adhere to this limit, you avoid incurring a bigger than expected loss, which is an important element in properly managing your bankroll.

When you set a win limit, you quit the game once that amount is hit. So for example your goal is to walk away with $1,000 in winnings, you immediately leave the table once that goal is achieved, regardless of how well you’re doing or the duration of your play. How will you benefit from this? Well, you’ll get to keep your profits and prevent losing them back.

You can also set a pre-determined limit on the duration of your play. For example, if you set your play to last for only six hours, you quit the game after that period is reached, regardless if you’re doing great at that moment. This method protects your health and wellbeing in general as it prevents you from going beyond what your mind and body can tolerate.

Remember that poker can be a very exhausting game especially if you stay in a competition for too long. So even if you’re currently doing great, if you still keep on playing despite feeling too tired, chances are, you’d experience a downward spiral.

The Disadvantages

The methods above also come with disadvantages though – setting limits also restrict your chances of winning big, or boosting your profits. They don’t take into account whether you actually have an edge over your opponents.

For instance, if you set a predetermined amount in relation to how much you can afford to lose, chances are, you will always hit that amount, and it somehow limits your potential. Same goes for win limits and time limits – you will not be able to capitalize on your advantage over other players, and because of this, you prevent yourself from quickly building your bankroll.

Setting Limits Useful For Self-Assessment    

But then again, not all players have self-control, and not all the time you can correctly gauge if the game conditions are favorable or not, or whether you’re competing against less-skilled players. You can’t always predict if the game is still winnable, and this even gets worse with pressure and variance.

Therefore, it is still helpful to set limits as it will allow you to get that much-needed break to clearly assess yourself and better prepare for the next battle.