As any poker player knows, there are a multitude of rules and skills to master to become successful at playing the game. One of these skills, however, can mean the difference between a long and fruitful poker career, or a short-lived masterclass in poker disaster.
We are, of course, talking about avoiding the dreaded tilt.
Tilt is a poker term for a state of emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, which then usually results in the player becoming overly-aggressive. This distress and subsequent poor playing technique can be caused by any combination of events, such as being bluffed by a small bet, having an opponent “suck out”, making a bad play, losing several hands in a row, accidentally clicking in online poker and losing a big pot as a result, all of which end in the player losing control of their emotions.
Anger is a difficult feeling to manage and can have a huge impact on your ability to think rationally and logically. As poker is a game of decisions, it is vitally important to keep your emotions in check to make sure that you stay on your best game.
According to Jared Tendler, there are several types of tilt:
Injustice Tilt: Believing that you are simply unluckier than everyone else, usually caused by a poor run which you feel is very unfair. If you find yourself repeating a lot of bad beat stories, you probably have this type of tilt.
Hate-Losing Tilt: This tends to affect highly competitive people who do not handle losses very well. If there are occasions on which you find yourself getting mad over the smallest loss, it is likely that you have Hate-Losing Tilt.
Mistake Tilt: For those who get hung up on the smallest errors, constantly berating themselves for a small mistake 5 games previously. The problem with Mistake Tilt is that the madder you get, the more obvious mistakes you are likely to make.
Entitlement Tilt: No one likes to admit they have this type of tilt as it means you believe you deserve to win because you work harder/don’t make mistakes/are more experienced. It certainly requires a lot of soul-searching to identify.
Revenge Tilt: Seeking vengeance against other players who have shown you aggression, beaten you or think they are a better player. An ugly type of tilt which can come out in those who wouldn’t normally display this kind of behaviour outside of poker.
Running Bad Tilt: This is when a culmination of losing, injustice, mistakes, entitlement and revenge happen in such a short space of time that it leads to an aggressive reaction.
Desperation Tilt: An uncontrollable urge to take extreme measures to win, such as playing for longer, playing too many pots, or higher stakes. Usually results in a loss of the entire bankroll.
There is also the term Positive Tilt, which is when a player, who has experienced a run of wins, finds that they have an unreasonable confidence moving forward. This can lead to reckless, loose play and irrationality which frequently results in losing whatever has just been won.
If you are playing online poker in the USA and find yourself suffering with one of the tilts mentioned above, there are several ways of managing it:
1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, from the diaphragm.
2. Repeat a soothing mantra out loud or in your head, such as “you got this.” This will help redirect your mental energy to get you re-focused.
3. Visualize a relaxing scene.
4. Gently stretch your arms and legs and give your neck a massage.
5. Take a break from the computer to clear your mind.
6. Tune in to a relaxing CD or radio station to keep your mind calm and relaxed.
7. Make sure you get enough sleep the night before a tournament.
We all suffer with tilt in one way or another, both in poker and in the real world. Try using the tips this article to manage any potential tilt situations, you could even start by applying them on sites where New Jersey players can play poker online legally. It’s tricky not to get mad each time something doesn’t go your way, but the key to success is learning how to manage that reaction when it happens.