How to Deal with Tilt in Poker

Lost & Found | estimated reading time
2010. September 08. |
Tilt is a very interesting psychological phenomenon that influences many poker players around the world. It happens because of the human nature, and can affect our decisions dramatically.
We think everyone have experienced how a mistake or unlucky twist can influence our decisions in the following hands. But what are the reasons behind all this?

It needs to be noted that handling a tilt is a capability issue, and it is as important as being able to calculate pot odds or to select starting hands. Bad beats need to be handled as something unavoidable, and necessary in poker every now and then. But there is more to it…

tilt

The actions the players take, and even the game itself influences the players, which altogether determine the outcome of a hand. Tilt can cause lost of problems if things are not going as well as we want them to. ‘Superior Player Complex’ plays a very similar role in this process. When players reach this state, or ‘complex’, they feel they are better than anybody else at that specific table, and they can only make right decisions. This can be particularly dangerous, especially if discovered by an opponent.

When someone is on tilt he is about to lose a lot of money. Every action at our hands need to be taken to overcome its effects to minimize our losses. There are many methods professional and amateur poker players use to get through tilts, because everyone has encountered them.

Consider your bankroll when choosing stakes

This is one of the most important and self-explantory of the aspects. Many players tend to ignore this, but if you don’t play at the right level, you’ll almost surely encounter tilt.

Be careful

One reasonable precaution is to always have enough money to afford the losing series caused by other factors than our personal decisions. You need to always keep a security backup to cover such unplanned losses. It is very important to adjust our stakes to our bankroll, and advance to the next level only when we have made enough profits. There are many views on this matter, but the most popular fact is that at least you will need 20 buy-ins at a certain stake level.

Don't dwell, concentrate


Concentration is also a key element to avoid tilt. When you are after a bad beat, concentrate on the current hand and the opponents’decisions, it will give you less time thinking about the mistakes of the past. Don’t dwell on the past watch other players closely, you will only benefit from that.

Every hands count


Again, don’t let bad beats take your emotions, let the current hand occupy your mind. What’s done is done, forget about it. You’ll have time to analyze previous hands, but while in the game, always concentrate on what is in your hands at that moment.

Never try to get your money back instantly

This point relates to the previous one: after losing a hand, we should never try to regain the lost money instantly with less than perfect gameplay. We should continue playing calmly, in accordance to our chances and logic of poker.

Take a break after a serious downswing


If we play too long sessions, the continuous concentration can wear us down, and ruin our chances of making the right decisions. It is good to keep small breaks every hour, because it is easier to lose our heads when tired. When we perform really bad, we might be better off abandoning the game altogether for a while. Forcing ourselves will only result in more frustration, and in the deterioration of our gameplay. This is how humans work.

Music

Many players listen to music while playing poker. It really can calm people down, the rhythm and tunes help loosen the tension, and can be a good way to get out of the tilt we are in.

As you can see, tilt is a complicated phenomenon, and it is an integral part of poker. Players have lots of chances of overcoming it, it only depends on how they handle it. We should always keep a critic eye on our performance  in the past, and continually analyze our actions in order to become a better and more profitable poker player.

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