Tilting In Poker

Tilting In Poker

As poker players, we’ve all been there – your aces have just been cracked by someone calling a raise out of position with 58s and you can literally feel the blood rushing to your head. The feeling of anger goes from 0 to 60 faster than the most powerful luxury automobile and it takes every last ounce of your willpower to contain the string of expletives threatening to explode out of your mouth.

This – is tilt.

Poker Tilt Defined

Simply put, tilt is an emotional state in which you lose control of your optimal decision-making process and begin making emotionally-driven, suboptimal choices at the poker table. However, the reality of tilt is that it can take on many different forms and be triggered by a whole plethora of situations.

Let’s take a quick look at some of those triggers and forms before turning our attention to the more important question of: what can we do about it?

The Most Common Reasons For Tilt

Having written the mega-popular book “The Mental Game Of Poker,” Jared Tendler is one of the world’s leading experts on Poker Tilt. Here are the 7 types that he has identified:

• Running bad tilt: things are not going well at the table and you can’t seem to catch a break.
• Injustice tilt: a perceived cosmic unfairness in the game, such as repeatedly losing to a player you identify as weaker than you.
• Hate-losing tilt: a character trait that makes one more sensitive to any form of losing.
• Mistake tilt: being overly critical of oneself when making an error, leading to a downward spiral of self-doubt and shame.
• Entitlement tilt: an egocentric belief that you deserve to win more than your opponents.
• Revenge tilt: an attempt to get “even” with players who have previously beat you in a pot that can lead to reckless and emotionally-driven play.
• Desperation tilt: one of the most destructive forms of tilt. Often happens after a prolonged period of losing or running bad when you feel desperate to win a pot at all costs.

What Can We Do About Tilt?

If you are someone who sometimes (or often) experiences tilt at the poker table, here are 3 key things you can do to prevent yourself from reacting emotionally and potentially blowing up your bankroll:

1. Develop Self-Awareness & Emotional Fortitude

The first step in dealing with any emotional difficulty is to bring awareness to the specifics of the situation. A simple way to begin this process is to ask yourself the following three questions:

A. How is my body feeling right now?
B. What is the voice inside my head saying?
C. Do I feel like I can still play optimal poker in this moment?

A powerful way to begin developing this type of awareness is through the practice of meditation. By spending structured time focusing your attention on one specific item (your breath, the sensations in your body, a dot on the wall) as one does in meditation, you begin to develop a type of self-awareness and mental fortitude you can not gain through intellectual means alone.

2. Devise coping strategies before you begin playing.

Once you have analyzed your specific triggers and reactions to those triggers, the next step is to develop a gameplan of the exact steps you will take the next time those triggers or reactions show up at the table. For example, if you know that you are particularly prone to Mistake Tilt, make it a rule that the next time you catch yourself making a mistake you will instantly sit out a few hands, take a couple of deep breaths, and remind yourself to simply take note of the situation that led to the mistake instead of reacting negatively. An alternative for tournament players who may not have the option to sit out for a few hands is telling yourself that for the next 5 minutes you will only play the top 10% of hands, giving you ample time to relax and release whatever sensations are present.

3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle that optimizes emotional control

Taking the time and effort to instill a healthy lifestyle is critical for optimizing emotional control and managing tilt. By taking care of your overall well-being, you will be better equipped to build a strong foundation that will aid you in coping with the challenges and stressors that are inherent in the game. This includes things like prioritizing sleep, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, cultivating mindfulness, and fostering a strong support network of people focused on growth and self-improvement.

By understanding how tilt manifests and working to instill proper strategies to combat its most harmful effects, you can conquer this bankroll-depleting obstacle and become better equipped to maximize your profits and achieve long-term success in the highly competitive world of poker.




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