Tilt is an emotional response that usually results from a bad beat or losing a big pot. Your emotional response interferes with your ability to think clearly and results in poor decision-making and irrational actions. If you play poker, chances are you have experienced the dreaded tilt. While there are many tips and tricks to keep yourself in check and protect your bankroll when tilt is in play, the most important of these tips is self-awareness. Tilt affects every player differently and having a thorough understanding of how you respond to it can mean the difference between winning and losing.
The key to understanding and counteracting poker tilt is by knowing your triggers. Start by listing what (in a poker game) you find annoying, disturbing or just plain wrong. Then rate your list in order of tilt-potential. Making sure to highlight those things you find most upsetting. Once you get a better handle on what can set off a tilt, you’ll be better prepared to squash it.
Self-awareness is only an important tool if you regularly assess your state of mind while you are playing. Create a habit of taking a “mental” break every so often to evaluate your play and make sure you are playing it smart and rational. You might not be on tilt at the time, but if you find yourself slacking in keeping a cool head, these mental breaks might help a avoid impending tilt.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
It’s hard to play at your best when outside factors influence how you feel at the table. Choosing to play when your mind and body are strongest gives you with the greatest chance of avoiding tilt.
Excessive emotional responses usually manifest when someone is under stress, overwhelmed by their surroundings or overly-tired. A little exercise, good nutrition and a good night’s sleep may be all that’s necessary to keeping tilt at bay.
In the end, the best way to handle tilt, is to recognize when it has gotten the best of you. And when it does, the smartest course of action is to stop and walk away. You might only need a few minutes but there will be times when leaving the game completely is warranted.
Start by walking around; ask yourself a series of questions to help alleviate the emotional response and put things into perspective. Questions like:
– If you had it to do over again, would you make the same decisions?
– Were you a statistical favorite to win the hand?
– What would you have done differently?
When you talk yourself through your plays with questions that demand logical/rational answers, you are taking the emotion out of the situation.
Unfortunately, some situations may not be alleviated with a short walk and pep talk. In this case, you should just pack it up for the night. If you find yourself replaying the hand or the action over and over again and focusing on mistakes, it’s time to give yourself a break.
While using a stop-loss is a bankroll management tool, it can also be used to manage tilt. If you are on tilt and making bad decisions or playing erratically, you are likely losing money. A stop-loss can force the issue of a break to counteract poker tilt when you aren’t quite aware of the hold it has on you.
Finally, While you might know in your head that making statistically correct decisions will pay off over the long run, that doesn’t always help at the time of a bad beat. Stay focused on your long-term success; it’s easier said than done, but doing so is the best play.
It’s common knowledge that keeping a journal of the statistics side of the game is important. Try adding notes regarding your emotional state and decision-making abilities. Those notes will help highlight patterns that can counteract poker tilt before it even happens.
Understanding your triggers and keeping a clear picture of your overall success are your best weapons to prevent tilt from skewing your results.