Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013

TILT!! How to Beat the Monster

Overcoming tilt is crucial if you want to establish yourself as a consistent winner. Of course this is much easier said than done. I hope to give you some tips on just how to beat the tilt monster.

What is tilt?

Tilt is a psychological effect of letting your emotions affect your play. Tilt arises from any number of factors including, fatigue, boredom such as not receiving a playable hand for what seems ages, fight with your partner/friend but often occurs because of bad beats.

How to deal with tilt?

Fatigue / upset : Obviously get some rest. Poker will be around 8 hours from now and you will play a much better game when fully rested and feeling better.

Boredom: If you’re not receiving your fair share of playable hands, don’t feel like a martyr when folding them and don’t feel like just because you folded 20 hands in a roll you are entitled to play one unplayable hand. Just keep folding until you get something playable. Other players might think you’re quite a tight player and you can get away with stealing more blinds. If you’re more experienced, then I suggest adding more tables.

Bad beat: The reality is that if you are a good player then you will receive your fair share of bad beats since you are usually the one getting your money into the pot with the best hand while the fish are way behind trying to catch their miracle card(s). Therefore, one way to deal with it is to play for the long run. If you were 90% to win the hand with 2 cards to come and the fish was only 10% to win and he happens to catch his outs on the river, great! In the long run if you keep getting your money in like that you will be doing very well. By playing for the long term, you are acknowledging that you can lose money in the short term through no fault of your own, however much it hurts. On the other hand, a player concerned with the short term will instinctively try to change things if results are not going his way.

A player mad at losing a pot from an opponent’s bad play is at risk of playing badly himself trying to recuperate the money he lost on the pot.

One technique I use is to keep making notes on players so if you see them make a bad play, you can remember what they did badly and take advantage. Same goes if someone bluffs you out in a huge pot. In another similar circumstance you may consider calling a huge bet.

Other techniques include:

Close your eyes and breathe heavily for 10 seconds: When we are stressed we tend to hold our breath in and this only increases our blood pressure and makes us more uncomfortable. Try this and you will feel better.

Sitting out from the game: Don’t get straight back into the action. Sit out for an orbit or two. You won’t lose your seat and when you do go back into the game you will play better than you would if you kept on playing after receiving a bad beat. If you are really feeling completely frustrated, there is no shame in taking the rest of the day off.

How do you know you’re tilting?

Sometimes its just obvious since you’re yelling at your monitor but other times symptoms are more  subtle. Usually you find yourself playing more hands (usually out of position) and you are playing them more aggressive. There is also a tendency to bluff or overplay hands.

Sometimes the tilt can last for days and you can end up making small silly mistakes that you would not normally make such as playing some starting hands or calling a gutshot straight draw when you shouldn’t. Recognise when you’re not playing your ‘A’ game and fix it immediately. If worst comes to worst, try to get a poker buddy or coach to watch you for 30 minutes so you can get back to playing your best.


Recognising tilt isn’t the biggest mistake people make, it is pulling themselves away from the game when it happens. For some reason we get stubborn when we are upset. Continuing to play while on a tilt often results in bankroll depletion and broken furniture and computers, so don’t let it happen to you!

If you overcome your feelings and just take a step away from the tables just for a little while, you will be glad you did.

There are two books that I recommend for dealing with tilt:

The Poker Mindset by Ian Taylor & Matthew Hilger

Zen and the Art of Poker by Larry W. Phillips