4 Times You Should Avoid Playing Poker

By in Poker on
5 Minute Read
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I feel like most people probably have heard of poker at some point or another in their lives. It’s definitely a game that’s played frequently, whether or not it’s in a casino, at the dinner table, at a get together, or in some underground poker room.

The advantage you have as a beginner or an amateur (as opposed to being a professional and playing full- time for a living) is that you can choose when you want to play—you can also choose not to play if you decide it would probably be in your best interest to abstain for a while.

Pros don’t have that luxury. They have to show up, rain or shine, sick or healthy. It’s really no different than the lifestyle of professional athletes and the expectations that are on their shoulders.

So with that being said, this message is going out to those who aren’t professional poker players.

There are times that it would be in you best interest to probably not go sit at the poker table. Of course there are also times when there’s no risk at all in playing, besides maybe walking away empty handed.

But we are going to go over the reasons why and times when you should probably avoid playing poker.

1- When You’re Too Tired

This one is probably a no brainer for a lot of people: don’t go and try to play poker when you’re too tired.

Poker is a game that requires a person to be alert and be able to make decisions that need a rested and awake brain. If you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas, there are going to be situations or events that are going to make you stay up late.

Playing long poker sessions into the night is oftentimes just part of the game.

If it’s your first time at the casino while on your trip, hopefully you can go into it feeling rested. If not, well, playing poker too tired is just a recipe for disaster and a sure fire way to drain your bank account.

The problem can become even worse when you’re playing poker in a casino setting—it’s often difficult to even be able to tell that you’re too tired. The same scenario happens for a lot of people when they think it’s okay to drive after having too many drinks.

There’s something called “the inertia of rest” that keeps players stuck in their chairs when they’re getting tired and should probably call it quits.

As a result of this, a lot of players play through the late-night hours and are sometimes thrown off by the fact that the sun is out and they got there around dinner time the previous day.

Playing poker when you’re tired is just a recipe for disaster. Other players are going to be able to more easily see your reactions and tell what you have in your hand, and you’re going to lose more. If you value your wallet (and who doesn’t?), then only play poker when you’re well rested.

2- When You’re on a Losing Streak

If you’re playing poker for a length of time, it’s inevitable that you’re going to experience something known as a losing streak. A losing streak is when you just keep losing one hand after another for an extended period of time.

It’s something that’s inevitable if you’re at the poker table for any length of time. For experienced poker players, a losing streak can be something difficult to deal with. It can shake a player’s confidence to the core and cause you to question yourself.

Confidence Is Key in the Game of Poker

If you look at an experienced player, you’ll notice that their level of confidence for the most part is unshakable. If you’re on a winning streak, it’s important to try and not get ahead of yourself. Winning streaks are great and all, but it’s important to not get overconfident.

The streak won’t last forever.

When a losing streak does happen, it’s important for a player to evacuate the table before it gets worse.

Some people might say to keep on playing through it, but that might just make it more likely that you’re going to end up worse than you already are, even when you’re using a betting strategy. Losing for a long time affects your self image, your confidence, and thereby your playing.

Your ability to tell how good the game is and your ability to win is going to be severely compromised when all of your confidence has been drained.

This doesn’t have to be the end of the road. You can always step away for a while and just come back after you’ve gotten yourself back together. If you’re playing, and during each hand you’re obsessing about how much you’ve lost so far, let this be an indicator that it’s time to go.

3- When You’re Angry

If you get on YouTube, one of the most comical things you’ll find are videos of poker players just completely losing it.

It’s a common phenomenon as a matter of fact. There are all kinds of reasons that people might get angry during poker. You never really know what a person is going through outside of the poker game.

A person could be having family issues, dealing with personal stress or depression, may have lost a loved one recently, may be going through a divorce, may have lost a job (poker might not be the best idea), and many other things.

Losing a game after having put a lot of chips in the pot could just trigger a person’s underlying problems and result in them taking out their frustration on the rest of the players and/or casino staff.

When talking about angry players, it’s relevant to bring up the term “on tilt.” “On tilt” originated first as a poker term used to define a player with a state of emotional or mental confusion or frustration causing a player to adopt a less than optimal strategy, resulting in the player becoming overly aggressive.

So on tilt is exactly what I have been talking about.

A player on tilt can result in the player losing their cool. That being said, It’s an important aspect of poker. Players with experience can take advantage of an opponent who’s on tilt and may actively try to make you angry to take advantage of you. Experienced players usually recognize if they are on tilt and have the mindfulness to not let this ruin their game.

On tilt actually originated in the pinball world, referring to a pinball machine being physically tilted. Someone gets frustrated as they watch the ball fall straight for the gap between the flippers and will physically tilt the machine in an attempt to make the ball land on one of the flippers.

When doing so, many machines will actually flash the word TILT and freeze the flippers. So applying this to poker, we see how overaggression often results in severely negative consequences for the player.

If this is you, and you’re finding yourself getting angry at the poker table, it will benefit you and everyone else if you can step away until you’re more grounded and centered.

4- When You’re Broke

Playing poker when you’re broke. Hmmm. That seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s actually not uncommon for people to go to casinos when their bank account is dwindling in an effort to maybe make some money and get back on top financially.

That doesn’t sound too unreasonable to someone who is an experienced player. Maybe that’s worked for a player in the past—they couldn’t pay their mortgage, so they went online to many of the sites that host poker and won enough money to make the payment.

This is definitely a scenario that’s more uncommon.

When it comes to any type of gambling, there’s something known as the “house edge.” This is a term used to describe the advantage that’s been put into place so that the casino wins. Games are designed in a way where the “house” has an advantage.

So that in itself is a pretty good reason to not go and play poker when you don’t have very much money left. The odds of you winning are not high, unless you’re very skilled in the game, but even still it can be hard to win.

If you’re having to borrow money to stay in the game, which some players actually do, this means it’s time to walk away. There’s a lot of pressure on a player who’s trying to win while they are dwindling away financially, and this pressure can really mess up a player’s game.


Gambling when you’re angry or low on money is pretty obviously a bad idea to the average player, but not everyone walks away when they’re on a losing streak or when they’re tired.

Are there other times when you think you should avoid playing poker? Let me know in the comments!

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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