Yesterday, I got an interesting email from a poker coaching client in Australia. He and another player were talking about playing cash games at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. The other player said, "I don't play down to zero. If I start with $300 and lose $200, I will then get up and walk away."
That's what I call a 'Stop Loss' point. Every winning poker player needs one. What is yours? If you don't have one, it is time to decide… BEFORE your next poker outing.
Here's what I do. Whenever I am playing cash, first, I pick the game based on my poker bankroll for that day. In my pocket, I want to have an amount equal to at least three buy-ins. That way I don't feel like I am playing with scared money.
If I lose down to half my stack, either I replenish it immediately to my original buy-in, or I get up. If I get up, it is with the intention of doing proactive debriefing so that I can more clearly see what has been going on.
This is how my debriefing goes: What have I been doing correctly? Where can I concentrate in order to be more effective? What might I have done differently? Who's giving me the most trouble at the poker table? Is it another player… or am I getting in my own way?
I may get up for a while, or I may leave the game entirely. It all depends.
Either way, by doing this, I look at what has been happening in a productive way, embrace my abundance, and it helps me avoid two things:
- being short stacked when the opportunity arises to win big
- slipping into lack or scarcity mentality
When you let your chip stack dwindle down, you literally give your power away. You not only leak chips, but you leak energy. When you think that you don't have enough chips to take a stand, you're probably right.
Simply put… energy follows thought.
If you put yourself into a cash game where you only have one buy-in, you've set yourself up for failure. Even when you are playing your A-game, it's possible that you may lose a few hands before you settle into the flow of the game.
Pick cash games so that your budget allows you a minimum of three buy-ins. It may mean that you sit down at smaller games than your ego prefers, or even smaller games than you are accustomed to playing.
When you have three buy-ins comfortably nestled in your pocket, you feel abundant before you even sit down. It's not just a case of being able to afford that particular poker game; it's the difference between playing with scared money or a smart bankroll.