Aug 9 2010

Are Stop Losses Practical?

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: Comments Off

Stop losses are a self-help tool of sorts. If you are able to effectively implement a stop loss on a routine basis, there is a legitimate chance that it will derive some benefit. On the other hand, a stop loss becomes completely useless if it is not strictly adhered to. This is why some players do not have stop losses and why other players swear by them. There is no right or wrong answer, per se, to whether or not a stop loss should be a part of any winning player’s arsenal. There are, however, some guidelines for who stop losses will serve a practical use.

Types of Stop Losses

In case anyone is unaware, a stop loss is a pre determined number at which a player will stop playing should they lose that amount of money/buy ins. For example a stop loss for a .50/1 NLHE cash game player might be $500 for any given session. In sit n go and tournaments, a stop loss would almost always be set according to number of buy ins. If a player is sitting at games with varying buy ins at a time, it would make sense for them to adjust their stop loss accordingly. In summary, both dollar numbers and buy in figures can be used when setting up a stop loss.

Stop Loss Guidelines

There are no pre-determined or recommend figures for actual stop losses. If you are a player who is able to largely avoid tilt, your stop loss numbers would be much higher than someone who tends to tilt off 20 buy ins in a matter of minutes. Another important factor to consider is the limits that you are playing. For example, a 10 buy in loss at 25NL would be much more indicative of bad play than a 20 buy in loss at 1000NL. In smaller stakes games, the players are generally not as skilled and there is then an easier opportunity to cash in via non-showdown pots.

When playing higher stakes games, however, players are prone to massive swings purely because of a streak of bad luck. If you lose a number of coin flips in a row, you are inevitably going to see a big drop off in your bankroll. But when playing smaller stakes games, there is no need to be flipping coins for stacks.

What’s the Point?

The primary purpose of a stop loss is to act as a tool to reduce losses due to bad play. When a poker player is losing, they have a tendency to play well below their ability. This might be seen through loose calls, misplaced aggression, or a generally increased willingness to gamble in order to recoup losses. If you follow a stop loss, it is much easier to ensure that your losses are less of a result of bad play, as you are going to call it quits when things aren’t going well. Remember, though, that a stop loss will do nothing at all if you do not have the discipline to follow it after a losing session, whether you think you are on tilt or not.

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