When Not to Play Real Money Poker?

With the convenience of online poker being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in your living room it's hard to imagine a time when you should not play online poker for money. Just like there are times when you have the best advantage and are the best time for you to play, there are times when you should walk away from the computer. The worst times for players to play online poker is when they are most likely to lose. When are these times?


Depending on your style of play and your skill level, there are times of the day when you shouldn't be playing. If you're a new player, the peak hours can find you overwhelmed and difficult to find a table that's not full of sharks. While the wide variety in tables can be a draw, it's important to be honest about your skill level and ability to play with the more professional gamblers.

If you're a more experienced player, then the you don't want to play during the worst lulls of the day. You may be bored and unable to sleep at 3am EST, but it's unlikely you're going to find a decent table for a few hours. Empty tables aren't your friends.

On Tilt

Playing while on Tilt isn't just a bad idea- it's reckless and dangerous for your bankroll. No matter what has you reacting emotionally, the best poker strategy is to simply walk away. You may be frustrated, annoyed, or angry over a bad beat. Maybe you're upset over something in your personal life. But the last thing you should do is use your poker account as a therapist.

This is a very expensive mistake that many professional poker players have learned. Every player will play on the tilt at some point in time, and they will learn a very expensive lesson for it. Poker deserves a clear head. Making reckless decisions or chasing bad losses won't win your money back, or make you feel better. And even if you do manage to calm yourself while playing poker, you're just going to feel worse once you sleep off the frustrations and see your bankroll in the morning.


On the same note, players shouldn't play when tired. Staying up late is not good for your wallet. Being clear headed and able to focus is key for making wise choices. Ring games are easy to manage- when you're tired, leave the table.

Unfortunately, some tournaments do run very long or late. The bigger the tournament, the more likely this is. Take advantage of breaks, stretch, wash your face. Wake yourself up. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks will help in the short term, but over a long period the resulting crash is typically worse. Sugar is just as bad when it comes to keeping you awake over longer periods. Keep your mind clear and sharp, and outlast your opponents.


A busy home can leave you distracted and unable to focus on your opponent's moves. Likewise, the ability to play on the go may be tempting, but if you have a small or limited bankroll, you're pretty much throwing your money away. How well can you focus on your opponent's tells if you're packed on a commuter train? If you're waiting to hear your name called for a meeting or a plane, you're not going to be paying attention.

On the biggest and most important tournaments, players can take measures while playing at home to minimize distractions. Close your facebook chats, turn the ringer off on your cellphone. Don't play poker while distracted, especially higher stakes. The ability to simply call can be repetitive and tempting, and sitting out can slowly drain a tournament stack.


The long and short of it is that you shouldn't play real money poker when you're not invested in the game. Distractions, frustrations, annoyances, and even simply being tired can make even the best poker player make bad choices. These can be expensive lessons to learn, and just like learning your own tells knowing when to stop playing involves paying attention to your own abilities and being honest with yourself about your performance. Honesty with yourself will save your bankroll, and keep you from burning out. If you consistently are losing to better players, with time you won't get better. You'll simply get frustrated and give up. Give yourself the best chance to be successful and you'll find poker to be a relaxing and rewarding past time.

By: Peter Smith