Learn how to not tilt when playing poker

For what reasons do many poker players experience going on tilt or tilting? This is such a frequent affliction affecting poker players that an online poker room even got its name after it, namely Full Tilt Poker. A bit of welcome irony to exorcise this poker demon.

You are tilting when you stop playing poker normally. You are tilting when you throw your long planned rules through the window. You are tilting when you are not playing your A game, or even your B game, but rather your C game.

And the sad news is that you will always lose money when tilting.

Where is tilt coming from?

Tilt is a poor state of mind that degrades your judgment and playing ability. Tilt is often triggered by a series of bad beats. Tilt often starts after you take a big loss following a very unexpected turn of events.

A very common case is when you lose a big pot after calling a 3-bet at the turn. You made the right move as you had the strongest hand, but a 3-outer hit at the river. You feel a sense of unfairness and desperation. This can often lead to tilt.

Every player is more or less subject to tilting. Usually tilt results from bad beats. But it can also happen if you fold the winning hand in a huge pot. Or if you win too easily. Every player has "buttons" that make him tilt. Great poker players control tilt well. This is a big part of what makes a great player.

Download PokerStars now

How to avoid tilt?

Limit your session length. Many players play better at the beginning of a session.

Do not take it personaly. Do not berate players. Some players are there to gamble, let them do it. In the long run, they are a source of profit for more rational players. Remember that for each time you take a bad beat from this kind of player, there will be many more cases when you win a large pot.

Make a chat comment if it helps release your stress. Do not try to win every session like if each one of them was an ultimate bet.

Play lower stakes. Smaller pots and weaker opposition will cause you to tilt less and to win more overall. You are not judged on the limits you play and you have nothing to prove. Play the limits appropriate for your mental state, your skill and your bankroll.

Only play when your poker mind is clear. If you are playing poker as an escape or if you are playing purely for the entertainment value, play lower limits or tournaments. Tournaments are safer for your poker betting as they let you control exactly how much you invest.

You must accept the variance of the game. Downswings happen and are an inevitable part of the game. All players will eventually suffer horrible streaks where they lose hundreds of bets in what seems impossible but consistent bad luck. You must be ready for your next downswing or give up playing poker for a profit.

Recognizing tilt

The first step in learning how to control tilt is learning how to know when you are tilting. The earlier you become self-aware that you are starting to tilt, the earlier you can take preemptive actions and limit the damage. Good players are even able to foresee when they are about to tilt.

How do you know you are on tilt? You should notice a rising sense of rage and frustration. You are playing weaker hands than normal, from earlier position. You check the river for fear of a checkraise. You do not respect bets and call everyone down.

The secret for profitable poker is to be honest with yourself when this occurs.

Use tilt to your advantage. Watch for tilt in your opponents. When you see a good player playing weaker hands than normal or a tight player raising several times in a row and showing weak hands. Plenty of chat indicating frustration and tilt. Be ready to strike when you notice that a player is on tilt.

Some advanced players make it their specialty to observe tilt in others, or even to induce tilt in others. This is part of the advantage of playing a loose aggressive or even maniac style. When your opponents have enough of getting pushed around and decide to call your big bluff just to lose a huge pot versus a monster, this is the sure path to tilting them.

How to recover from tilt? Stop playing, but this is hard. Set a time limit when you play. Play super-tight. Play less tables. Play crazy in a cheap tourney or a low limit table. Take a 10 minutes break.

There is one poker room with plenty of traffic and tons of micro-limit tables, and you can minimize your tilt there by switching to one of these cheap tables after a bad beat: pokerstars.

PokerStars Sit and Gos