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When I Was A Donk – Tom Schneider

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Oct 26, 2016


Tom SchneiderIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Tom Schneider is one of the best mixed-game players in the poker world with four World Series of Poker bracelets in events such as H.O.R.S.E., stud eight-or-better and Omaha eight-or-better. But he’s also proven that he can more than hold his own in no-limit hold’em with two World Poker Tour final tables.

In total, the Phoenix, Arizona resident has more than $2.3 million in lifetime tournament earnings and is the author of Oops! I Won Too Much Money.

Here, Schneider talks about learning to quit while you’re ahead.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in poker is staying too long in a game. There’s a theory I’ve developed over the years that deals with what I call ‘that leaving feeling.’ It’s that feeling you get when you have booked a good win, lose a pot and then lose more trying to get it back when you should have just left.

A long time ago, I was playing in a $400-$800 game at the Bellagio and had to meet someone for dinner in two hours. We were playing four-handed and I was up about $40,000. I was sitting in the nine seat and I had all of my stuff sitting in the eight seat. I was completely relaxed with my feet up and the chips just coming my way.

Then Cyndy Violette showed up and I was forced to clean up my side of the table. All of a sudden, I got ‘that leaving feeling.’ Something wasn’t right and I just didn’t feel comfortable anymore. Instead of leaving, I stayed in the game and lost the $40,000 plus an additional $10,000.

I truly believe that there is a comfort zone in poker. I know the math guys are going to think this is ridiculous, but I tracked this theory for a while. I would play a lot of $75-$150 and write down however much I was up or down whenever I had ‘that leaving feeling’ and would compare it to when I actually left.

In six months of tracking it, it cost me an additional $100,000 by playing in games after I had that feeling. Now, I know that’s not a huge sample size, I’m just one player and maybe it was even a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I have to believe there’s something there. The worst thing you can do is turn a winning session into a losing one, so I’ve gotten a lot better over the years about listening to myself when I get ‘that leaving feeling,’ even if it means getting up from a good game.