Throwing Shakespeare aside, to quit when you’re ahead or quit when you’re losing, that is the question. Every player faces it. When you’re winning, it’s an easy game. The trouble is when you start losing several games the thought of all those wins are fresh in your mind and you’re going to try to win it back. Even though you might not be playing your best game, you might be inspired to keep on playing.
Suddenly you’re on a losing streak. Sure, you come out ahead for the day, but not nearly as far ahead as you were a couple of hours earlier. So, while quitting while you’re ahead seems a little bit counterintuitive, it can actually work to your advantage. In sports, there’s talk of who has the momentum in a series. If you quit while you’re ahead, you can face the next session when you’re well rested, have a clearer head and have a higher degree of confidence.
A losing streak is much more dangerous. The main thing that happens in a losing streak is players get desperate to reverse the process. In a state of panic, they might make some rash decisions like to bet aggressively on a hand that they might not normally. The result is an even worse losing streak. You have to play when you’re not panicked, and not when the game seems like a chore.
If you stop a session and come back the next day, or even after a couple of hours away from the computer, you could find a whole new perspective, not to mention another set of players who might match up better with your style of play. Things could very well turn around.
You should never measure your win/loss ratio after one session. If you come out ahead for the week or month, then you should be satisfied. Some players go so far as to set a limit to where they come out ahead for the session. If they’re winning, they quit, regardless of how they’re feeling. While this is a little extreme, the idea should be about coming out ahead over several sessions, not just one. If you’re winning and you’re tired, or you’re losing and you’re tired, it basically amounts to the same thing. If you’re not playing sharp, good things are not going to happen.
Basically, you have to be honest with yourself. Are you losing because you’re not yet skilled or because you’re tired? If you’re consistently losing to players you’ve beat before, then this is a signal that you should shut down the session. If you’re beating players because of a string of luck, not outright skill, this might also be a good time to quit. The time to quit depends on the situation.