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We see it all the time; A player accumulates a big pile of chips only to lose them back. It’s happened to me. Maybe it’s happened to you too. So just what happened?

Be very cautious when you find yourself the chip leader. It is helpful for poker players to think of their money in terms of how many chips they have, but there is a potential trap here. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking of our poker money as “just chips.” We start playing looser, figuring our luck will hold out. We enjoy splashing around in pots we shouldn’t even be in, sometimes hoping (perhaps even expecting) that miracle river card to complete our hand. We don’t notice the steady flow of chips away from our stack until it’s too late. After they’re all gone we realize they weren’t “just chips” after all.

When you find yourself up in a poker game, it may be a good idea to start thinking of your chips as real money again. This is a good time to evaluate your game. Are you still playing solid starting hands and are you playing your best poker? Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of squandering your chips by playing too many marginal hands, chasing draws and paying off your opponents.

If you’re in a cash game it may be a good idea to cash out if you find that you’ve won but you’re losing your focus. If you’re in a tournament, my advice is to slow down and make sure you’re playing your “A” game.


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