From the number of skills required to be a professional in poker, a skill of crucial importance is controlling your tilts. Whether a beginner player or Danial Negreanu himself, all players go through poker tilt at some point in their careers. There is no escaping or hiding from it. The only way is to control them.
So, let us understand the concept of tilts better.
What is Poker Tilt?
Tilt is a poker phenomenon in which a player starts playing poorly due to anger, despair, frustration, annoyance, envy, and other human emotions. Majorly this occurs when a player comes across unfortunate poker events, like, bad beats, derogatory comments from opponents’ side, ineffective bluffs, etc. This often leaves the player in a raging mood which thus makes him/her less efficient in making fruitful decisions.
However, it is not always that the players go through tilts due to events related to the game. Sometimes, even those situations that are in no way related to the game can trigger the players. Like, having a fight with a closed one, receiving sudden bad news, etc.
All these events cause poker tilt and result in poor play by the player. Consequently, the player ends up losing huge amounts of money.
Poker is a game where thoughtful decision making is crucial. Being engrossed in emotions does not let you make a wise choice. That is how our brain functions, it stops to do the higher-level thinking when your emotions rise too high. This further results in losing a lot of chips on the table.
Poker Tilts Explained with Examples
Let’s get a little more clear on the concept of poker tilts by going through some examples.
Player A was dealt with Ah Ac as his hole cards. On the other hand, Player B was dealt with 7h 5h.
The flop comes out to be 9h Ad 5c. Player A is almost certain of his win as he has a strong hand with three of a kind of Aces. But, the turn comes out to be 6h and the river further comes out with an 8h. On the showdown, Player B shows his straight flush and wins the pot. Player A, on the other hand, is frustrated and angry at the bad beat that he received.
In this case, if player A continues to play, it is quite certain that he won’t be in the best of his mental state to play further. He, instead of winning, will probably start losing more if he chooses to continue playing.
Player A and Player B are playing poker with 7 other players. Player A dislikes Player B personally as it has been a few times that Player B has beaten PLayer A. Her feeling of envy and dislike for Player B is resulting in poker tilts. To prove herself, Player A has started making improper bets and raises without taking into consideration the value of her hand. As a result, she has bet beyond her limit. Being so engrossed in her hatred towards Player B, she has stopped keeping an eye on other opponents and their moves. As expected, she received a beat from Player C instead.
In this case, rather than controlling her tilt in poker and making rational moves, Player A made emotional decisions that led to her defeat.
Symptoms of Poker Tilts
To understand the symptoms of poker tilts, we have compiled some real-life examples of poker players talking about their symptoms.
How to Control Your Tilts?
Now, moving forward, let us take a look at how professional poker players succeed in controlling their tilts while some inexperienced players struggle a lot with them.
Set a limit and quit after that
Beginner poker players do not set a limit of the amount of money they are willing to lose which often makes them lose it all. Contrarily, professionals always have this limit pre-decided for them. Once they have lost the decided money, they quit the game.
It is important for any poker player to define their limits beforehand. While you’re tilting, it is too tough for you to judge the importance of quitting. However, once you have this limit defined and you have reached past it, you know that it is the right time for you to quit.
There are times when the actions on the table appear juicy and interesting, that you might not want to quit. It is understandable as well. But, once you have lost equal to your pre-set limit of money, it is time for you to quit. No matter what.
If you do not choose to quit and continue playing, it might as well be a threat to your bankroll.
Take breaks between the sessions
It is quite evident that poker matches are tiring. They go on for too long and that is sometimes the reason for fatigue and frustration amongst the players which are the feelings that may trigger tilts.
To avoid the same, successful players set limits on how long they plan to play. This limit usually varies for different players depending upon their comfort level. Some players choose to take breaks after every 30-40 minutes, while others find it easy to play for 4-5 hours straight as well.
Now, when we mention breaks, these breaks can be as short as going to the restroom. Our primary aim is to remove our focus drift from the game for a couple of minutes in order to refresh our brain. This helps in improving the decision making while playing and is recommended to practice even when you’re not going through a poker tilt.
Think about your best wins
To effectively control the poker tilts, it is important to break the cycle of emotions. When you have gone through a bad beat or any such event that has ended up triggering your emotions, you are certainly going to mess up in the forthcoming streets of the game.
One of the biggest reasons is because now your brain is captivated by your emotions and is now thinking emotionally rather than rationally. Hence, it is now important to break this emotional cycle and get back on the track of rational thinking.
What most people tend to do in such a scenario is drift the direction of their thoughts to positive things. They start thinking about bigger and better things like some crucial matches that they won or possibly things that elevate their mood.
For example, let us say you have just made the wrong move on the table. Now, you are frustrated and your winning chances have also reduced. However, you still have a chance of making a comeback. But now, due to your annoyed state of mind, it is tough to make a wise decision. In this case, you must give your thoughts a positive turn in order to think logically and make that winning move.
Only take your kicker game to the table
Let us take a situation.
Suppose it was your birthday last night. You had a fun night getting drunk, dancing, and laughing till your guts came out and whatnot. It was a memorable day. You could only sleep for 3 hours and got up with a hangover. And, after getting up you had a fight with your dad about being so late at night and getting up with a hangover. You are full of frustration and rage. But, you sat to play.
Do you think you can win in such circumstances?
Well, if the luck is with you, maybe. Otherwise, your chances of winning are minimal.
Here, you are already in a frustrated state of mind and your mind in such a situation is not capable of making rational decisions.
Hence, successful poker players always avoid playing when they are not feeling at their best and this is what helps them stay away from situations of poker tilts.
To avoid losing money when you are going through a tilt, it is crucial that you play only when you are at your 100%.
The next time you are stuck tilting, keep these tips in mind and go ahead with your winning.
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