If you have lost one or several large pots in a row playing poker, it can be very difficult to keep it cool and continue make smart moves in every hand. What sometimes makes it even harder is when you know that you had the best hand to start with and that you played the hand perfectly, but still lost to a lucky player. If you get affected by this and start playing hands in a way you normally wouldn’t, you are “on tilt”.
It’s without a doubt a tough challenge to never get tilted, but it’s a very good condition to maximize your winnings. Money saved (not lost) is just as much worth as money earned (won). This is why we have to learn how to look at our poker play in a long term. To win 10 days in a row doesn’t mean much if you tilt the 11th day and thanks to this lose everything you’ve won.
“The real things to know is that folks will stand to lose more than they will to win. That’s the most important percentage there is. I mean, if they lose, they’re willin’ to lose everything. If they win, they’re usually satisfied to win enough to pay for dinner and a show. The best gamblers know that.” -Puggy Pearson
The first thing you need to do is actually acknowledgning the tilt and admit to yourself that you are in fact tilting. Denial is a normal reaction against stress and could be the defense mechanism you use to help you deal with the situation. It’s very hard to realise this and do something about it by the computer but try. Acknowledge and admit that you are on tilt!
You are in need of calming down and the best thing you could do is to leave the tables you’re playing at and do something else for a while. The tables will still be there when you get back. Take your dog for a walk, water the plants, take a shower or cook a dinner. Do something else than playing poker for a short while and within short time your negative thoughts will be long gone, which makes you ready to play again.
Make a decision at any given time – as a suggestion before the session starts – how much you are allowed to lose before it’s time to quit. It can be very hard to stop even though you set a limit for yourself when the tilt’s just around the corner, but if you can manage this you most definetely saved yourself some money. Examples for how much you might be willing to lose in a session is three buyins at a specific level or maybe after five sit&go without ending up in the money. Make sure you have set the rules for when to quit, if you start to lose money.
Sometimes you can get extra annoyed on any specific player since they outdrew you in a big pot or maybe are behaving themselves badly in the chat window. If that’s the case you should change table or take a break immediately, since he or she got you exactly where they want to. To stick around just to avenge yourself is something that very rarely works out the way it’s supposed to. Instead try to focus on the cards dealt and how you can play your hand in the best way, no matter which players are in the pot.
If you feel that you are tilting but still doesn’t want to stop playing, play lower limits. It’s much easier to accept a $5 loss than $100. It might also be that you’ve already lost enough money on the higher levels, so you no longer kan justify to continue playing there considering your bankroll size.
Poker is about playing good, but also have some elements of luck involved. Sometimes when you lose you’re just unlucky and couldn’t have played the hand better, while other times you might lose a pot because of sloppy play. Take a break and analyse your game, for example through hand histories that you can save with a program like Poker Office.
If you feel like you need to get rid of some aggressions so do something about it, depending on what suits you. Play a game where you can unleash your fury on zombies, yell so high that your neighbour consider calling the cops or play some loud music on your stereo. If you feel like punching something a sand bag would be optimal to spare furniture, equipment and family members. For some people this is all that’s needed to re-focus.
If you find a tip that works for you to avoid the tilt so make use of it time and time again. To avoid the tilt, or at least control it, can be the difference that makes you from a losing to a winning player. Both you and your bankroll will appreciate if you find any way at all to minimize your tilts.