If you have ever dabbled in stocks and shares, you will know how easy it is to see an early profit slip through your fingers because you have been in two minds about selling or hanging on for a higher price. Before you know it, you have a loss.
Poker is like this. You join an on-line cash table feeling fresh and alert leading to some sharp play and an early profit, only to see it dribble away as the session gets longer and players come and go. Finally, you log off feeling rotten, out of pocket and rueing a wasted evening when you could have been out with your mates or getting some jobs done!
One reason why many people do not make money from on-line poker is that they play a single session for too long. The session becomes a drag, the player’s mind starts to wander, and looser play is the result. It becomes a vicious circle as losses encourage reckless betting (tilting).
Let me suggest a way of improving and building confidence. I will assume you play limit Texas Hold’em and you have some idea of the cards you should play before the flop (I do not need to tell you that most hands should be folded at a full table, especially out of position).
Set yourself a time limit for the session, no more than one hour. Then set yourself a profit target for the level you are playing. I use a guide when playing this method of 15 times the big blind.
So, for a game of $1/$2 limit, have a profit target of $30; for $2/$4, it is $60; for $0.25/$0.50, it will be $7.50. As soon as you reach your target, quit the game. Don’t get greedy for more. Take a break, or quit for the night.
It is a good habit to write down your performances. Note the table stakes, your starting stack, your final stack and profit or loss. Always leave the game after an hour if you have not made your target – you might still have a profit - or quit earlier if you do not feel in control. There is no point prolonging the pain if you feel out of control. In that case, take a break and start again at a lower stakes table.
After a while, your records should show an encouraging trend in profits. It takes discipline but there is no better way than making regular profits to achieve the feel-good factor.