All Tilt Is Insecurity

When you see someone tilting, are you really watching an insecure child?

I have wrestled with this question for years.

I cannot tell you the exact answer. However, I can tell you that seeing tilt as insecurity is a profitable filter to fix upon one’s view of life.

I have a storied history with tilt, as any poker player does. The game tends to attract competitive and insecure males that do not like to lose. Unsurprisingly, these boys do not behave close to rationally when they find themselves relieved of their money.

I’ve gotten into more arguments at poker tables than I’m comfortable admitting. At multiple tournament stops, I trashed hotel rooms after a final table bubble. I’ve broken mice when I played online. If I were a weaker man, I’d go so far as to blame my former alcoholism on my anger with the game.

I was an awful tilter when I was younger. I would always take it too far.

Which is why it’s so strange to me now that I tilt so little. People have told me it’s weird to watch.

I can tell you exactly why that is.

At around age 25, I began training poker players at an industrial level. I saw hundreds if not thousands of guys a year, between recorded classes, email exchanges, webinars, and personal lessons.

I started seeing a trait in them which had been in me, and I didn’t like it.

Every single poker player believed themselves to be special. They assumed they were the exception to the rule. They were grossly entitled.

If you asked the average high school graduate, "what are the chances an average person will make it as a professional poker player?" they would answer something along the lines of, "somewhere around 1 in 10,000." And they would be right.

I stay in touch with more professional poker players than probably anyone on Earth. The average salary salary is $30,000 a year. Most of them quit after three to four years.

The funny thing is, if you ask a poker player what an average person’s chances are of achieving success in the game they will say similar odds, 1 in 10,000. Intellectually, they know that 99% of these 0.01%ers are making around $30,000 a year, making their odds of attaining riches even worse. Yet, when they do not win a $1,000,000 within a year they bitch and moan as if their mother died.

I cannot think of a more deplorable human being then one who bemoans to any person who will listen that their special nature is not being recognized through a card table. That sounds like an entitled child who is crying their insecurities out.

"What do you mean I’m not special?!? I’m the center of my own world! Why am I not the center of this one?!?"

Once I had so many models of bad behavior, I was much more readily able to identify it within myself.

I stopped trying to rationalize the odds to myself. I stopped picturing Dixie cups with a ball hidden beneath one, and asking myself how often a random person would find that ball. I stopped acquainting myself with distributions.

Whenever I found myself complaining, I’d say to myself, "you’re acting like a (expletive) child right now."

I’d try to imagine how the women in my life would see me as a man if they could hear me going on like this. My mother would think she failed, because I was such an ungrateful whiner. My significant other would probably see me as a child.

No woman in her right mind would be attracted to a child.

It always hurt to think of myself in those terms…but it worked.

I also began realizing half the time I was tilting was because I was playing with scared money. I was in a backing relationship I wasn’t comfortable with. I was playing in a tournament bigger than my bankroll could allow.

If you think about it, you’d never tilt at a $1.00 home game. You’d look like a moron if you did so.

Why would you not tilt there? Because you’re playing for such a small amount of money. The goal of the game is clearly to have fun and spice things up with a few dollars between friends. Only an idiot would take that so seriously.

Well, guess what? That’s how adults are supposed to gamble. If you can’t afford to play the game without a care in the world, then you shouldn’t be playing it. That is literally how problem gamblers are identified: They play with money they can’t afford to lose.

Finally, if you really want to rid yourself of tilt, go work a real job for a while. This is why I tell all the aspiring amateurs I work with to keep their day job or stay in school. Poker is the most fun when it is a break from the real world. It is not healthy to spend your every waking hour at a casino or in front of your computer.

I hope these tips are helpful to you and your game. Good luck to all of you.

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