This article refers to cash games, not poker tournaments.

I know a lot of beginner players are not sure whether it’s okay to leave the poker table at any time.

And to make things worse, it’s one of those unwritten rules of poker where there is no clear yes or no.

So in today’s article I’m going to try and explain when you can leave the poker table. I’m also going to address a few related questions.

Alright, let’s begin…

Technically, you can leave the poker table at any time

When playing cash poker, you are allowed to leave the table at any time.

As a courtesy to other players, you can let them know in advance — half an hour or so in advance, or during your penultimate orbit. But there is no rule that says you have to announce when you will leave the poker table.

This is basically the same as all other casino games.

When you play blackjack, you can leave the table at any time — you don’t have to wait until the end of the shoe.

When playing roulette, you can cash out and leave whenever you want — regardless of the amount you’ve won or lost.

Obviously, because in poker you play against the other players, rather than against the house, there are different implications.

This is why it would be best to let others know, approximately, when you will leave the table.

It could be half an hour, or ten minutes earlier.

It could even be as simple as saying “these are my last three hands”, or “when the button gets back to me, I’m leaving”.

But you don’t have to do it, and if anyone complains because you didn’t say anything, then honestly that’s their problem, not yours.

Also, feel free to take a quick break whenever you want. For example, when eating a snack.

You can literally leave the table for a few minutes, or ask the dealer to deal you out.

Just don’t leave the table for longer than a few minutes if you want to keep playing.

Is it rude to leave a poker table after winning?

This is a bit of a different scenario.

When you leave the table immediately after or shortly after winning a big pot (or a few big pots), that’s what’s called hit and run.

Although you can do it, it would be best not to do it.

Not rude, but the etiquette would be to keep playing, at least for a while, and give the other players a chance to get some of their chips back.

As a casino dealer, I’ve seen a few players who did this (won a big pot then left immediately after).

A couple times, the reaction from the other plates wasn’t nice. Not in the sense that they started shouting or anything like that.

But they were visibly bothered. And they all mentioned it after the player left the table.

Keep in mind, most of the time it’s beginners who do this.

They may have played once or twice, and they may not know all the unwritten rules of poker (it’s actually very likely they don’t know all the rules).

So they may get lucky and win a lot of chips, and believe the most sensible thing to do is to just leave the table.

When to leave a poker table

Up to you, really. But I can think of at least three scenarios where it makes all the sense in the world to just say goodbye, leave the table, and cash out.

1. Losing your stack

Have you just been stacked and you don’t want to lose any more money?

There’s always a part of you that goes “alright, I’ll play a few more hands”.

Subconsciously, you’re always going to want to chase losses. Whether it’s poker or any other casino game.

So in general the best advice is to just leave. Especially if you set a limit before playing and you just reached that limit.

2. Anger or tilt

Some professional players (note: some) have learned to be completely detached from the game whether they’re winning big or losing too much.

But whenever you’re tilting, perhaps after a series of bad beats, or after being card dead for over an hour, 99 percent of the time the best decision would be to leave the table.

Again, this totally depends on your level of experience and personality.

But when in doubt, call it a night. Playing on tilt can be very risky.

3. When it’s too late

Did you go to the casino or poker room with a certain time frame in mind?

Meaning, did you decide you would leave at around, say, 1am?

I’ve seen so many players say they’d leave at a certain time, then keep playing for three or four more hours.

Hilarious for the dealer, not so much for the players themselves.

How to leave a poker table

There is no standard procedure, really.

Just let the dealer know that you’re leaving the table, and collect your chips so you can cash them out at the desk (best to use a chip tray unless it’s only a stack of 20 or so).

You don’t have to wait until you’re small blind. And you don’t have to let everyone know in advance — although it’s nice if you do.