Is the Online Poker Cashout Curse Real?

Money Pile, Woman With Hands on Her Head Screaming, Laptop Displaying Poker Game
The online poker world features plenty of conspiracy theories. Some of these include:

  • New players receive better cards to help them win in the beginning.
  • A glitch exists lets you see temporarily see opponents’ hole cards.
  • Poker sites use bots on their customers to make more money.

Each of these conspiracy theories is well known to a degree. However, no online casino poker gaming conspiracy has been discussed more frequent than the cashout curse.

In fact, this curse has been discussed so much that many players completely believe it. But is the cashout curse actually real or just a myth?

I’ll discuss this matter by first covering more on the curse, why many believe in it, and the reality of the situation.

What Is the Cashout Curse?

The cashout curse suggests you’ll experience a bad run of cards after withdrawing money from a poker site. You’re supposedly more vulnerable to this problem if you make a large cashout.

For example, you might initiate a withdrawal and suddenly be unable to buy a pocket pair. Or, you may get solid cards, but have terrible luck after the flop.

In general, you’re supposed to worry about your results after withdrawing money. Online poker software is allegedly designed to punish you for taking funds off their sites.

What’s the Basis Behind the Curse?

The main reason why people believe in this curse is because they think poker sites are out to get them. Specifically, they believe online poker rooms want to punish them for withdrawing.

Those with tin foil hats think online poker sites will do anything to keep more money within their ecosystem. After all, more funds circulating around a site means more rake.

It doesn’t help matters that certain sites have cheated in the past. For example, an UltimateBet (UB) insider named Russ Hamilton could see his opponents’ hole cards. Likewise, an Absolute Poker insider used the same type of “superuser” software to see other players’ cards.

Of course, these are isolated incidents that only involve a couple of operations. But they create the everlasting impression that any site could cheat its customers.

Real or Fiction?

Woman Crossing Her Fingers, Money Pile with Poker Chips and Cards
If you’re at all worried about the cashout curse, then stop! It doesn’t exist.

It may seem logical to believe that poker sites would take vengeance on you for withdrawing money. But the following reasons explain why it’d be foolish to engage in such practices.

Poker Sites Make Money Through Rake

Earlier, I mentioned how online poker rooms can benefit by having more money on their site. Lots of funds increase the possibility that more cash will flow on the tables and deliver rake to the house.

By and large, though, poker sites will make their money as long as enough people are playing. Furthermore, they don’t actually gain any advantage by causing you to lose money. Their profits come entirely through rake from cash games and tournaments.

One more point worth making is that poker operators can actually accomplish the opposite effect by sending bad luck your way.

If you continue getting bad cards and losing, you’re less likely to continue playing at a given site.

Online Poker Rooms Aren’t Devastated by Withdrawals

The underlying theme behind the cashout curse is that you’re hurting poker sites by withdrawing. But the reality is that your individual cashout won’t mean much to a site in the long run.

Unless you’re a multimillionaire high-stakes online gambler, you’ll probably be making plenty of small banking moves. Your $50 or $100 won’t cause a site to start panicking.

Furthermore, internet poker rooms don’t really care about withdrawals as long as they’re getting consistent traffic. The traffic, after all, is what has a direct impact on rake.

Poker Sites Would Need to Put Too Much Work Into the Curse

Poker sites can’t just initiate a cashout curse with the flick of a button. Instead, they’d need to make massive updates to the software to rig the system.

Is all of this time and effort worth it just to scare players away from withdrawing money?

No, the average poker site won’t receive much benefit from using these scare tactics. In fact, they’d probably lose more money when accounting for the software development and extra manpower needed to punish withdrawers.

Yet one more problem is that a curse would punish countless players. After all, thousands of online grinders cash out on a daily basis. Just imagine the headaches involved with trying to get revenge on each one of these players.

Reasons Why You May Lose After Withdrawing

Online Poker Game with Rigged Text, Photos of Guy Happy Then Sad
Even after seeing the logical reasons for why the cashout curse isn’t real, you may still question the matter. This is especially true if you manage to lose the most after initiating a withdrawal.

You’re likely to continue believing in the curse in this situation. But there are some explanations that cut through the idea that an actual curse is afoot.

You Cash Out When You’re Running Good

More times than not, you’ll withdraw money from an online poker room when you’re running well. You may turn $500 into $1,000, for example, and want to enjoy the spoils.

Perhaps your winnings have come in part due to solid poker skills. But chances are, any hot run that you experience will also be aided by good cards.

Poker may be considered a skill game, but it also involves a great deal of luck. You might experience a hot streak for several weeks, only to suffer through a brutal downswing afterward.

If you’re used to cashing out after a good run, you may be in for a dry run of cards soon after. This timing plays into the idea that it’s the withdrawal, not your luck going south, that causes you to lose.

You Become Confident and Try New Games or Stakes

In addition to withdrawing some winnings, you may be motivated to try a new variation or move up in stakes when you’re doing well. After all, you’re likely to be running high on confidence.

Odds are that you won’t be a beast at whatever new poker game you try. In fact, you could lose a lot of money until you develop the necessary skills to win.

If these losses come on the heels of a cashout, you might again believe that your downswing is due to the withdrawal. But you need only look at the fact that you’re trying a new variant or higher stakes to see why you’re suddenly losing more often.

You Withdraw Too Much and Play Differently

Two Computer Screen Displaying Poker Games, Hand Holding Poker Cards, Button with Coins Displaying Withdraw
Casino bankroll management suggests that you have at least 25 cash-game buy-ins and 75-125 tournament buy-ins for your chosen stakes. These recommendations might seem like overkill, but they’re meant to help you survive the variance of poker.

Bankroll management is especially important for pros who need to survive poker’s ups and downs to continue making a living. If you’re just a recreational player, you might not stick with these hardline bankroll requirements.

Furthermore, you may feel like cashing out lots of money from a poker room for one reason or another. For example, you might need extra money for Christmas presents and take it off a poker site.

But when you decimate your bankroll to this degree, you may suddenly start playing differently. If you’re playing scared and are afraid to lose, then you’ll have more trouble earning profits.


The cashout curse is one of the oldest myths in online poker. It suggests that you’ll be punished for withdrawing money from a site.

Many players believe in this curse, because they seemingly lose money after cashing out. However, their bad run can be attributed to other factors.

First off, people tend to withdraw money after a good run. They want to take advantage of their hot streak and enjoy the winnings.

But despite the skill factor, poker is a game of variance. Somebody who runs well may quickly experience a downswing in the aftermath.

Some players feel confident after a strong run and will try a new variation or higher stakes. They’re more likely to lose money in these instances. Assuming they cash out before experimenting, they may blame their losses on the withdrawal.

As for poker sites, they don’t really have any concrete reason to punish customers who cash out. They make money from rake, rather than causing players to lose.

In fact, creating a withdrawal curse might do more harm than good. Players who frequently lose are more likely to leave a site and even drop out of poker for good.

It’s also worth considering how much work would be needed to make a cashout curse happen. Sites would have to put extensive time and money into reprogramming their software to punish withdrawers.

Long story short, internet poker rooms have little to gain and more to lose by causing a withdrawal curse.