Handling Tilt in Poker
One of the biggest problems an online poker player will face in their career is tilt. The stumbling block for virtually every novice in the game, tilt is the end result of a continual string of smaller problems.
Tilt is basically any time when emotions get the better of you and you play with anger. The psychological mechanics of tilt are a little more complex than this, but the main thing you need to understand is that tilt is basically losing the plot and throwing away your money.
To combat tilt at the poker table you need to be aware of some of the common pitfalls you'll encounter at the table. If you're able to spot these early enough you should be able to prevent tilt from becoming a problem and ruining your session.
However, before we delve into the best ways to beat tilt, let's outline the common things that can lead to you losing your mind:
- Receiving a bad beat
- Losing money
- Constantly getting bullied out of pots by aggressive players
- People trying to run down the clock in an MTT
- Insults in the chatbox
- Computer issues
Now we've given you some of the common triggers for tilt, it's important to give you some tips on how to overcome the issue. Although it's best to try and avoid the triggers altogether, this isn't always possible.
So, for the times you do get annoyed, here are our top tips for combating the problem of tilt:
Understanding Your Particular Tilt
The first thing to do is establish what exactly sends you on tilt and what effects it has on your game and to do this you can create a tilt profile.
1) What causes you to tilt?
2) What tendencies do you display when you're on tilt? I.e. the physical signs, the things you say out loud or in your head, as well as the specific poker mistakes you make.
3) What are your early signs of tilt? This means the tendencies that occur before you reach your tilt threshold, i.e. before you get too angry.
4) Try to establish your threshold. This is the point where you can still take action and do something about your tilt.
Prepare for Battle
Alongside making a tilt profile, you also need to establish a firm set of goals.
These can be immediate and long-term. Once you've listed these you then need to run through them, as well as your tilt profile, before the start of every session you play.
Indeed, a top athlete would never take to the field without warming up, so you should never sit down and play without getting yourself focused. By reminding yourself what your early signs of tilt are, it will make you more able to take evasive action before tilt becomes a significant problem.
Moreover, by reaffirming your goals before each session you will be much more focused when you play, which means you will be less likely to get angry at the table and, thus, less likely to go on tilt.
Catching Tilt Early
Closely linked to your tilt profile is the idea of catching tilt early. The biggest misconception players have when thinking about tilt is that they can eliminate it with a few simple steps. This, unfortunately, isn't the case.
Because tilt is a series of psychological processes, you have to work on gradually restructuring your thought process. To permanently eliminate tilt you must chip away at it, slowly wear it down until you can identify it instantly and stop it from affecting your play.
To do this you need to work on catching it early, which is why you should always have your tilt profile handy. By constantly reducing the amount of time it takes to identify tilt, you can get it to a point where its impact on your game is virtually zero.
Variance is a huge concept in poker but the majority of players don't really understand it. While most will have a general idea of what variance is, many fail to fully appreciate the impact it can have on your results.
This failure to fully comprehend the significance of variance often leads to many players getting frustrated, which in turn leads to anger and, ultimately, tilt. To prevent this from happening you should study tilt just like you study any other concept in poker.
By getting to grips with variance you will be less fazed by the swings of the game and this will keep your emotions on an even keel. By keeping your emotions at a manageable level you'll be much less likely to go on tilt and, therefore, experience better results.