Understanding Tilt in Poker to Prevent It
There are many concepts which need to be mastered before you can become a successful poker player and many players don’t realise that one of the biggest keys to poker success has nothing to do with cards. The ability to keep your emotions in check in order to prevent going on tilt will go a long way in determining how successful you’ll be.
Tilt is the poker-specific phenomenon of playing poorly due to the emotional distress caused by a combination of any number of events such as bad beats, unsuccessful bluffs, long stretches of being card dead, or losing to a ‘fish’.
Preventing tilt is important as poker is a game of decisions and frustration and anger impair your abilities to think logically and rationally.
Tilt: A Spectrum of Behaviours
The phenomenon of tilt can best be described as a spectrum of behaviours. One end of the spectrum contains feelings of peace, happiness, and feeling calm, while the other is extreme, almost uncontrollable rage. In between those two polar opposites are varying levels of emotion starting with sadness, through disappointment, irritation, frustration, anger, and finally rage.
If you’re hoping to be a great poker player, you must at all times lean towards the peace and happiness side of the spectrum in order to maintain rational thinking and to keep making the best possible decisions.
Keeping Your Emotions in Check
Many players tend to view tilt as a reaction to events that happen exclusively within a game of poker, but this is often not the case. We’re all human and we are all carrying around a certain amount of emotional baggage accumulated throughout the day.
Perhaps you lost at your favourite online slots Canada or missed the bus? All these little frustrations will impact your emotional state when you’re getting ready to play and, while you may not even realise it, you may be closer to the negative end of the spectrum before you even buy in.
If you’re not in a good mood, take some time and try to find a happy place, as getting into the proper emotional state before you play is critical to controlling tilt.
Recognizing the Causes and Symptoms
Despite what you may think, tilt actually occurs gradually and you don’t go from one end of the spectrum to the other in a matter of seconds.
Most players understand that their cards are not always going to hold up, but tilt starts to seep in when a series of bad events occur in a short space of time.
The tilt spectrum is generally as follows:
Optimism – excitement – thrill – enthusiasm – optimism – contentment – boredom – pessimism – frustration – worry – anger – depression – hope – relief – optimism.
To recognize where you are on the spectrum, start watching your reaction when one of the trigger events occurs. If you’re able to shrug it off, then you’re good, but if you’re starting to feel intense anger, this should be a warning that you’re starting to advance along the spectrum.
Strategies for Minimising Tilt
- Move away from your computer, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and visualise something relaxing.
- Develop a phrase that you can repeat to yourself to help you stay calm, for example ‘take it easy’, ‘the cards will come’, ‘you know what you’re doing’, etc.
- Keep these phrases focused on yourself and positive in nature as they will help you redirect your mental energy and help you regain focus.