Money at the table

One thing I have noted is that the amount of cash in front of a player changes the way they play. This is an issue as disciplined poker, which by definition means playing each and every hand the same way, seems to be the single best way to come out ahead on the tables in the long run.

What do I mean by this? Notice that some players who win a few big hands, doubling their cash on the table, start to play a little more loose. They start gambling on more marginal hands as they feel the are playing with ‘winnings’, rather than their own cash. They raise pre-flop, stay in hands longer, basically playing different than they did at the start of their session when they were winning. Before long, they have wasted their good fortune, and are close to their starting cash level.

Conversely, players who have a bit of bad luck and hold a short stack, also have their common behaviors. Often, a short stack will throw their last few dollars at a marginal holding and leave after busting (or worse, buy back in an effort to claw back their losses).

Alternatively, some short stacks start playing more conservatively. Worried about the big guys at the table bullying them, they fold where they would usually call based on the pot odds.

My point is that you should tend to play the same style all the time (yes, even if that means changing up your style for deception). When you change your play based on the session’s ups and downs, you are eating into your long term expected profits.

Not many people, if any, win each and every session of poker. Those times you are winning will compensate for the losses. Guard that ‘earned money’ well.

And those times that you control your urge to tilt when you are losing will save the precious dollars that will see your bankroll increasing over the long term. So, in a way, the way you lose can make you are a long term winner; and win a long term loser.

So what strategies can one apply in order to combat the psychological influences of your stack size? First, just being aware of it will help. Just try and play the same game at all times regardless of the size of your stack.

Another option is to have an exit strategy. You might decide when starting at a table that you will leave when you double your chips, and when you are down ‘x’ amount of dollars. When you reach these thresholds, leave and find another table, or quit if you have played enough for the day.

On a more general note, guard those long term winnings too! Keep a range of money on the game sites. Funnel extra cash over your range to your cash (Neteller, etc) account so you are not induced to play at the higher tables until you, and your overall bankroll, dictate.

By managing your cash well, knowing how much you are up and down at the session, during the week, and overall, will help you to make better decisions at the table. By consciously being aware how cash levels affect you and your play, players can help increase profits over the long term by even marginal improvements each and every session.