Combating Tilt in Poker

The fight against tilt can be broken down into a three step process:

1)      Take precautions to minimise the possibility of tilt

2)      Recognise when you are on tilt

3)      Act appropriately if you are on tilt

There are many things you can do that will help you avoid going on tilt in the first place.

Have an adequate bankroll

Maintaining a proper bankroll is fundamental to preventing tilt. If you are properly rolled for the game you’re playing then losses will not affect you in the same way as playing when under rolled. If your bankroll is $1000 and you sit down at a 1/2 No Limit Holdem Table with $200 and get sucked out on at the river you have just lost 1/5 of your poker money. You might start feeling in danger of going broke and go on tilt. On the other hand, if you sit down at a 0.10/0.25 table with $1000 and lose 100 big blinds in a bad beat, you still have 39 buy ins remaining. The more you are properly rolled the more likely you are to focus on the game and not let variance affect you.

Don’t keep score

If when playing you like to keep track of how much you are up or down for the session then stop! This will lead to similar consequences of not being properly bankrolled. There is no advantage to doing this and it only encourages you to go on tilt. How well your session is going should have no impact on how you play your hand.

Only play when you are in the right frame of mind

When you are playing poker you don’t want anything on your mind that may distract you. Therefore don’t play poker when your drunk or depressed, tired or have something big on your mind. Don’t use poker as a way of releasing other problems in your life. If your not in the right frame of mind than you will go on tilt far more easily because you are already emotionally unbalanced. Losing a large amount of money is not going to make you start feeling better.

Leave your ego behind

If there is an annoying maniac at the table who keeps raising you, don’t build up a grudge against him. If you are playing with someone you don’t like or there are hot girls watching who you want to show off to, don’t let your ego get involved. You want your brain to be making decisions, not your ego.

At some point or another, even if you take all the above precautions, you will still go on tilt. It happens to everyone. You need to learn to recognise that you are on tilt so that you can cut it out. Usually you will notice you are on tilt when you realise that your making bad plays but sometimes the change in your game might only be very slight and it can take a long time to notice. Different players react to different things and each has their own style, therefore its up to you to work out what your triggers are and whether you are on tilt or not. Remember that anytime you make a play for any reason other than what you think will maximise your expectation then you are on tilt.

Once you are aware you are on tilt what should you do? The answer to this is easy – STOP PLAYING! Clear your head away from poker and come back another day or a few hours later when you can play your A game instead of carrying on playing and losing money.

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