Whether you’re a complete novice or an advanced player with aspirations of becoming a full-time professional, the inability to avoid tilt affects almost all of us to differing degrees. You will find that disciplined long-term winning players will tilt considerably less. We can draw a parallel between tilt management and being a successful player, demonstrating that reducing the tilt factor is imperative if you desire to take your game to the next platform. There are many attributes required in your quest to be a winner, but they are futile if you are unable to control and manage this fundamental characteristic.

Occasionally we all suffer horrific beats. The more often you get involved in pots in decent shape, the more bad beats you should expect to endure. The more hands you play the uglier the beats you anticipate seeing. If you play multiple tables, then in just a short span of time, you are likely to have witnessed some of the worst beats imaginable and it’s a statistical probability that there is a greater likelihood of what appears independently, to be an impossible sequence. You can understand why new players that are unfortunate enough to observe these patterns early on in their poker ‘career’ are more likely to assume that software is crooked. 

The truth is that we all suffer periods of play when we appear to be consistently getting outdrawn. In fact I’ve yet to meet a regular player who consider themselves anything other than unlucky and that includes many winning players. Most only ever remember the unfortunate situations, although that’s human nature. The reality is that this is simply a period of negative variance and over the long term it will be reasonably close to even. Therefore it may be annoying but how we react in the subsequent pots is the characteristic that divides us.

So how do we spot tilt and possibly more importantly what can we do to combat tilt?

Everyone is different making the first part of that question exceptionally difficult to identify, although if on screen session statistics noticeably differ from standard then that may be a reasonable indicator (e.g. voluntarily put money in pot). It’s worth considering whether there is a reason you are playing a different style. It may of course be many factors other than tilt. For example you could be on a table when you are getting a run of hands or equally sitting with players who offer appreciably more action, thus affecting your ranges. If you are experiencing a bad session, then it’s certainly worthy of review. Once you have identified the leak, it will hopefully be easier to repair.

We should all find our own method to combat tilt. What works for one may not work for someone else. For many it can be advisable to walk away directly after a hit and take a short break. Many of us are guilty in expressing our anger or at the very least, disapproval of the line our opponent took in a particular pot. Some of us (and I regretfully hold my hands up to this) have been responsible for overstepping the line of acceptability and using profanities in the chat box. However, whilst I wouldn’t advocate this option, if that works for you and it prevents you from smashing up the monitor or worse still placing your entire bankroll on the line in an unfavourable situation, then a potential chat ban may be a small price to pay.

At all costs we must avoid making it personal and seeking revenge against the perpetrator, creating spots that we wouldn’t do ordinarily. You will often hear phrases like “its just one long game”. It sure as hell may not feel like that after a significant setback, but it is accurate and your best action is to continue playing optimally, safe in the knowledge that you have only lost a battle and not the war. You might ask why am I telling you this, it’s all very basic. Well whatever your skill level, its sometimes worthwhile looking at the reasons why the results of a previously winning player have significantly changed. Look back on all sessions whether winning or losing ones and analyse what you did differently. Sometimes the very basic things can be easy to correct when you never noticed any adjustment in your game. Poker is habit forming, so we shall all make a positive change today and ensure that we form good habits as opposed to bad ones.

Robert Whatsize

Categories: Poker Strategy