Tilt is a psychological phenomenon that often is brought about by certain occurrences in play poker. When a player is on “on tilt,” he will not make the best decisions due to psychological and emotional reasons that separate a player from rational poker play. If you’ve ever heard the term “poker face,” you should know that physically showing emotion is the enemy of a good player; the same is true with internal emotion.
There are many reasons players go on tilt. Learning what the triggers are and blocking them from affecting your game is an important but difficult element of poker online strategy. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the feelings from coming on, but when they do, you must be prepared to get control over them before they get control over your game.
Causes of Tilt
Some common causes of tilt include bad runs, good runs, table conflict, a personal conflict that has nothing to do with online poker real money, and any other stress factor that can encroach upon a player. A bad beat is defined as the incident of losing even though you have the best hand, statistically. When an opponent gets lucky and ends up winning the hand, even though his cards were not as strong as yours, tilt tendencies can come on. The first thing to realize is that this happens all the time, and you can’t do anything about it.
When you suddenly feel the need to get even, your game will fundamentally change. The way in which you process the situation and the decisions you make in light of it will be drastically different than they would be if you were perfectly calm. It’s just part of the psychological element of the best online poker.
Another reason players go on tilt is when they are in the midst of a losing streak. Sometimes this is initiated by a bad beat, but many players will not see the mistakes that got them to where they are and will not be able to turn things around, no matter how hard they try. Instead, they will focus on the repeated losses and let their irritation turn into an overall bad attitude, which will repeatedly affect their ability for effective reasoning.
In other words, their otherwise rational mind frame is suddenly distorted by the frustration of losing. This can also happen when a player has a winning streak. This player can become so overconfident that he too loses the ability to play poker.
To avoid tilt is to educate yourself on the rises and falls of poker. When you understand the odds of the game and the nature of luck (poker variance), you can overcome tilting because you can accept the fact that you are going to lose more often than you are going to win. It’s just the personality of poker, and if it was any different, it wouldn’t be the beloved sport that it is.
Dealing with Tilt
It is not feasible to completely eliminate tilt from your poker game. Even the most controlled and indifferent players will have to face tilt. The better players probably won’t show it to the rest of the table, but they’ll be feeling it inside. Learning to conceal and swallow the negative emotions that poker often evokes can significantly advance your level of play. What you shouldn’t do is piss away your chips on unwinnable hands—this will not make you feel better. Instead, try one of the following suggested methods for dealing with tilt:
- Cash out and call it a day.
- Take a break from the table. Go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, etc. to break your attention for a minute.
- Eat somewhere far away from the poker table.
- Go somewhere away from the poker environment and make a phone call to someone who will make you feel better about yourself, perhaps a friend who understands poker and will listen to you vent.
- It is important that whatever you do to clear your mind of the negative vibe must be done away from the poker table.
Actually, that’s part of the point. By removing yourself from the root cause of your stress, you will begin to alleviate your tilt. The necessary time away will depend on how serious your mood is. If you can learn to remove yourself from the situation as soon as you start to feel agitated, your performance, in the long run, will improve.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do:
- Do not continue to play in a tilted state.
- Don’t go off on your opponents.
- Do not become a cocky table captain who suddenly feels the need to school everyone at the table on how to play poker. With the exception of Hellmuth (the Poker Brat mentioned earlier), you will not be a successful player if you have no discipline over your emotions and behavior at the table.
- Do not move up stakes thinking you’ll make your money back because when you are on tilt, this will not work.
- Do not abandon the rules of bankroll management. Going on tilt and not recognizing it or doing anything to relieve it will lead to substantial losses.
- Do not even attempt to play poker if you are in a bad mood to begin with. A bad day that may happen to you are not reasons to run to the poker table for relief. Your bad mood will undoubtedly come with you to the game.