It's a dilemma that you will face when you are successful at the poker tables. You're in your local cardroom and are ahead of what you started with at the table, or sitting at home online and in the same situation. You haven't been there for long and, hey, since you're ahead your playing with free money. What will you do? There are arguments for both sides of the equation.
In the online game, the speed is much faster than that of the brick and mortar world. The swings of poker, whether you are playing limit or no-limit rings, can be brutal, even more so when you are playing between 50-80 hands per hour. What starts off as a twenty to fifty percent increase from where you started can disappear in minutes.
Something else that comes into play more often in the online world is the factor of the ever changing tables. Especially on the more populated sites, sometimes the entire face of a table can change in a fifteen minute span. This makes the table where you won your stakes entirely different and with a new group of players that can eat away at your profits.
When you're playing in a casino, you definitely have more time on your hands and can wait out to play. If you're getting thirty hands an hour, then you are playing at a speed game, in most cases! Additionally, players normally spend more than a few minutes of play at the tables, thus you don't have the revolving door of players that you'll see online and you can get a good mental outlook on your opponents.
In either case, there are several other factors that you must consider before you either decide to give up your seat or press your advantage. Money management is the overall primary consideration. Would continuing to play in the current game and losing back your successful (to this point) session damage your bankroll in any way? If this is the case, then there is an argument that you are playing at a level that is too high for you.
Another consideration to make is how are you feeling. Even if your session has been a short one, you may pick up some things from your play that, even though you are winning, could be of concern to you. Are you making your money from an ill-advised chase that, although you hit it, you shouldn't have been playing? Sometimes it is better that you walk away having identified a hole in your game than stay there and lose back what you have gotten away with.
There are a few things that you shouldn't do. While it is more of a factor in online poker, you shouldn't become known as a "hit and run" specialist, meaning that as soon as you get ahead, you get out of the game. There probably isn't a more annoying player than that either online or in the casino and you will get noted that you play that type of game.
Another thing not to do, believe it or not, is stay in the game because you perceive it as a good game. There is a good bit of information in the line "know when to walk away". What is good one moment is a highly subjective issue and, while you believe your skills will carry you along, the tides of poker can quickly ebb and flow. This is especially true when there has been a complete change in faces (or names) at the table. If this is the case, it may be time to leave.
Finally, you shouldn't walk from a game just to book a winning session in your journal. What could be more artificial than spending much of your time at the table in the hole and, after a win that gives you a marginal improvement, leaving? There should always be learning when you are at the table, whether ahead or behind.
All in all, like many decisions in the game of poker, the choice of staying in versus leaving up has a tremendous amount of incomplete information. Once again, like the choices that you make at the tables, making up your mind when to take your chips and leave could be your greatest decision of all.
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