Playing Poker Drunk is Never a Good Idea

playing poker drunk

I’ve been meaning to write about playing poker drunk for some time. It’s something a number of players do at least a few times a year, if not more. Interestingly, it doesn’t just extend to live poker games. With easy access to poker online by mobile or laptop, people even play poker drunk online too.

The situation is often the same, regardless of environment. You’ve had a night out with mates and sank a few pints and decide you’re in the mood for playing poker. Whilst it seems innocent enough, it will rarely end well for the player who has been drinking.

In this article I’m going to explain why by offering four by-products of playing poker drunk. My aim is to convince those of you that think they play well drunk to resist playing drunk in the future.

Bluffing too often

The most obvious consequence of playing poker after drinking alcohol is the need to bluff. Drunk players have increased levels of confidence that makes them feel that bluffs can work with greater frequency. Ironically, it works even less than usual due to the fact opponents can easily detect when someone is drunk. Slurred speech or the smell of alcohol will often give it away so definitely watch out for this leak as over-bluffing can seriously hurt your bankroll. These tells may not be evident in cash games, but players will spot how many hands you are playing through their HUD just as easy.

Lack of discipline with hand selection

Another byproduct of playing drunk is problems with discipline. When you’re drunk you want to be involved and playing hands. You don’t want to sit around waiting for premium holdings before entering the pot. Therefore, you’ll find yourself playing in more marginal spots. This could be tricky when you’re playing let alone when you’ve been drinking beforehand.

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Rebuying again and again

Unfortunately, bankroll management rules are not a concern for the drunk poker player. You’ll often find drunk poker players rebuying over and over again in a session, chasing losses and ignoring their own rules of stop losses. This is a serious problem that some poker players need to deal with if they want to reach higher stakes or maintain a high cash game win rate.

Playing too high

There is nothing wrong with taking a shot at the level above from time to time. But when your shot taking is the times you’ve been drinking, it’s unlikely to go well for you. Instead, you’re more likely to take a bigger hit as the stakes are higher, and go back to your normal levels with your confidence shot. Playing too high is a common leak for people who play poker drunk and often find themselves regretting it the morning after when they login to see their balance is much lower.

The one perk of playing poker drunk?

The only advantage I can find is the table image you may generate. If people remember you for a session you played drunk, you may be able to get some action in the future. However, this is not guaranteed as some people may quickly realise that you’re actually competent when sober. That is literally the only upside of playing drunk but is the losses you post worth the potential enhanced image as a bad player? Surely not.

Why playing poker drunk never works out

At the end of the day, poker is a game that is taxing on the mind and requires focus and concentration. Its common sense that alcohol impairs our mental faculties so it stands to reason we will play worse. In an era when poker is available 24/7 and games are tougher than before, why handicap yourself and playing when you’re anything less than prepared?

Therefore, I am urging my readers to give poker a rest when drinking. By all means, have a great time drinking alcohol but uninstall the poker app, shutdown the laptop and don’t go the card room if you’ve been drinking.

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Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: