That thought has been the death of many bankrolls. We all hate to lose. And it’s no fun to give up. That head-down walk away from the table can get mighty distasteful.

You see it all the time. Players barely able to keep their eyes open, playing in a desperate attempt to “get out,” often in games they wouldn’t be in if they weren’t stuck. Even with some extremely knowledgeable players, this is a fatal flaw, and turns an otherwise good player into a perennial loser. With poker, you have to learn to take your beating and return when you’re strong to fight another day.

I’ve heard all the money-management theories. Play until you win x amount of dollars. If stuck,  play until you get even. Some put a stop-loss on their losses. But “Father Time” has no bearing on how you do. He doesn’t know how you’re doing. He doesn’t know or care if you picked up your last hand one minute ago or two days ago.

The problem with the money-management model is that you tend to leave good games small winners when your image and play level are at their best. And stay and play in poor games when your image and playing ability are downgraded due to being stuck and tired. On top of that, your image is bad and your opponents are empowered by their success. Poker is one long war, a cumulative score game, one where the score of money adds up over time. Your win/loss record is meaningless. It’s better to be 1-9 and $1,000 ahead, than 9-1 and a $1,000 behind. While that may seem like an exaggeration, I’ve seen such cases.

Your lifetime poker record will be dictated by the edge you attain. Play when your edge is large and not when it is thin or non-existent. That equation isn’t a calculation of just the ability of your opponents, but also your own. Don’t play bad games or when your facilities have been weakened just to get even. And don’t quit good spots just to book a winner.

There is something about that cashing in moment when you’ve lost. Yeah, it totally sucks! But “swallowing that bitter pill” at the right time will transform in your long-term poker career.

Play with strong character. Identify when you’re tired, beaten, off your game or the game is deficient and get up. And when the game is good and you’re feeling strong, don’t quit to ensure a small win.

If you play well, you’ll find your bigger wins will more than make up for your smaller losses.