Tilt in poker: harm and ways to overcome it

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Updated 03.07.2024
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Тильт в покере: вред и способы преодоления

What it is? Tilt in poker is a condition, in which emotions take over the mind, and person makes irrational, incorrect and senseless actions or simply breaks down, starting to shout, throwing his arms in the air and behave inappropriately.

What should you pay attention to? Any poker player must recognize tilt before it is too late and be able to deal with it. There is no universal methodology, since there are too many triggers. However, there are rules you can follow to avoid tilting.

The Concept of Tilt in Poker

When someone is tilting, it means that he is in a certain emotional state, where he plays much worse than usual. People often use this term to describe players are playing excessively aggressive. It is not correct. If someone is very plays a very aggressive style It does not necessarily means he’s tilting. It’s just that he plays in this style.

In reality, player is on tilt in poker when he makes uncharacteristic decisions because of his emotional state. Excessive aggression is its most notorious form. Sometimes a player becomes depressed when he believes that he is simply not capable of winning. He may not take advantage of the chance to make the most of strong hands or he can also fold a strong draw when he actually has the odds to call.

At the same time, he plays worse and worse, and his doubts only strengthen, so at some point he is absolutely positive that he cannot win. This type of tilt is subtle and less dramatic, but it is just as destructive as brutal aggression. Most likely, you will not have huge losses in a short time, but this form of tilt, due to its subtlety, can last a very long time, leading to a slow depletion of your bankroll.

Тильт в покере: вред и способы преодоления

Remember that it is better to try to prevent tilt than to try to overcome it later. If you didn’t take preventive measures to avoid tilt and now you are tilting, you have already damaged your winrate and now it’s an ordeal. Always try to prevent tilt.

Types of Tilt in Poker

  • “Run Bad Tilt.”

Such tilt usually begins during long downswings and is a consequence of accumulated negative emotions. In such a tilt, from the very beginning of the session you feel devastated, do not believe in success, and lose optimism and energy. The very first bad beat leads you to believe that you will be going downhill for the entire session.

  • “Injustice Tilt.”

Hurtful losses, bad beats and coolers confirm your opinion that poker is not a fair game and basically is a scam. You think that someone’s winnings are not rightful, and that mathematics is unfair to you. You believe that the random number generator is rigged, that rooms help streamers, that in some rooms bad beats occur more often than in others, and so on. You justify your loss any way you can and feel like a victim.

  • “Hate-losing Tilt.”

Often players cannot accept losses adequately, although they are aware of variance. This tilt is often accompanied by the desire to reveal the opponents’ bluffs every single time, so that no one can outplay you and make you look like a fool.

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It is better to go to showdown and lose the pot to a better hand than to think that someone bluffed you out of the pot.

  • “Mistake Tilt.”

This tilt is very common among poker professionals. In this case, the player overreacts to his own mistakes, cursing and blaming himself. He thinks of himself as an unworthy player and believes that he will no longer win in this session, since he cannot make correct decisions.

  • “Entitlement Tilt.”

In this case, the player, on the contrary, is sure that he must win. He believes that poker or the room owe him, that variance also owes him, and he must be lucky, otherwise the game is unfair.

  • “Revenge Tilt.”

Showing disrespect or aggression towards you may provoke your desire to take revenge on a specific opponent. This could be a one-time thing or a long-term conflict with a certain hater from the poker community. You are trying to prove something to one of the players.

  • “Desperation Tilt.”

You are in a state of deep depression and emotional swamp, you strive to win back at all costs, go to higher stakes or play longer sessions just to achieve your goal. This condition is similar to depression. You do not honor agreements with people and yourself, and are ready to take desperate actions.

Symptoms of Tilt

Manifestations of tilt can be very different and vary depending on the situation and the person himself. To prevent or control tilt, it is important to be able to identify its symptoms.

A clear sign of tilt in poker is a change in the behavior of a player at the table. A person on tilt may be much more aggressive than usual, acting overly confident in order to regain lost chips.

There are also physical symptoms. So, the player may begin to through his arms in the air, twitch in his seat, or, on the contrary, freeze with an expression of anger or disappointment on his face. Emotional manifestations such as a loud voice, cursing, or hitting the table may also be present. This all suggests that a person cannot control his emotions and succumbs to tilt.

Psychological signs of tilt are the desire to blame other players or the situation itself for your failures, increased irritability and frustration. A person can play without any strategy, in autopilot mode, just trying to win back the money he lost.

It is important to recognize these symptoms, as early awareness of tilt can prevent its further development. Players often resort to deep breathing techniques, mindfulness, and evaluating their emotions to help them remain calm and make informed decisions even in the most difficult situations.

The key to preventing tilt is recognizing its early signs. Signs that indicate you are at risk of going on tilt:

  • Emotional stress. You feel a rise in emotions due to difficult conditions in the game or an unfortunate combination of circumstances. This may be the first symptom of tilt.
  • Loss of concentration. If you cannot concentrate on the game, your attention is scattered, this may indicate an imminent tilt. The inability to concentrate can lead to spontaneous and ill-considered decisions.
  • Changing the nature of the game. Sudden changes of your game style in response to a bad beat can be a symptom of emotional outbursts and loss of control.
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  • Physical reactions. Symptoms such as increased breathing and heart rate, trembling hands, and increased sweating may occur. This is how tension and stress manifest themselves.
  • Denial of responsibility. If you blame the situation or other participants for your failures, it means that you want to relieve yourself of responsibility for what is happening.

If you notice such symptoms, you need to react correctly – take a short break, take a deep breath, use relaxation techniques, or leave the gaming table for a while. To avoid tilt and maintain awareness in the game, it is important to feel your emotions and take steps to harness them.

Fighting Tilt in Poker

The main thing you can do to overcome tilt is to stop playing before it’s too late and take a break. However, it is often difficult to leave the table when you should. First, you need to realize that you are on tilt. Accepting the problem is the key to solving it. There are some techniques to avoid financial losses due to poor quality of your game:

  • Take a break. Set your alarm for specific intervals, such as 30 or 60 minutes, and take breaks. The longer the game lasts, the more difficult it is to control emotions. Gradually, you will train yourself to make pauses, and this will become your habit. Remember that emotions may not have the best influence on your game.
  • Play tight. Don’t worry if you lose a big pot, but take a short time-out, don’t get involved in tough spots, only play premium hands for some time. At the same time, focus on your breath, inhale and exhale calmly, taking deep steady breaths.
  • Go down the stakes. If you think that people outplay you, then change the environment to a more comfortable one, play lower stakes.

Stress occurs when you know what a right thing to do is, but still do otherwise. There are tests to help you understand how effectively you can cope with stress, which is inevitable in poker.

There is no universal method for fighting tilt, but there are some rules that will help control emotions and reduce financial losses:

  • Play according to your bankroll. It is very important for a poker player to keep bankroll management and adhere to recommendations for maintaining a gaming budget. If you are not afraid to lose a pot, because the amount of money going in is not that big, than you will not worry too much. However, if you play too high of a stakes, then losing even a medium pot could stress you out.
  • Use stop-loss. This is the maximum amount you can afford to lose that you set for yourself, so that after losing that much money you leave the tables. You need to choose wisely, without taking into account the possibility of winning some money back. Don’t follow your emotions, be reasonable. Cash table players determine losses by the number of buy-ins, and in tournaments, they usually consider total amount of money used for buying into the tournaments. Remember these simple rules and don’t lose your mind, otherwise everything that you were able to accumulate in a long and thoughtful game can be lost very quickly.
  • Play in a good mood and condition. Eliminate any factors that may influence your best performance. If you’re not in the mood, don’t sit down at the tables, do something else. Poker is about probabilities, and one bad beat, one terrible runout can cause a surge of emotions and lead to tilt. Also remember that alcohol will not help you during the game.
  • Always learn. Negative emotions in poker mainly arise from ignorance of mathematics and not understanding hand strengths, as well as from wrongfully high expectations. As you gain knowledge, many aspects of the game become clearer, and emotions no longer have such power. Read the theory, analyze hands, and watch educational videos to perceive the game processes in a more calm way.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tilt in Poker

Is there a universal way to overcome tilt?

No, because tilt is a psychological problem. Each player has his own inner world, and each will have his own approach to solving the issue. Often, achieving emotional balance requires the help of an experienced therapist.

Тильт в покере: вред и способы преодоления

Can any psychologist help overcome tilt?

In theory, yes, anyone. However, it is better to work with a therapist who helps gamers or, even better, poker players specifically. You may have to pay a little more for his work, but he will be able to solve the problem faster, since he knows all the nuances.

Do all players have tilt?

This question is more rhetorical. Even very experienced poker players who bluff for millions of dollars with poker faces can have breakdowns.

When should you start fighting tilt?

If you want to play poker professionally, then immediately include in your budget expenses for a psychologist. The faster you gain mental strength, the easier it is to endure the first tilt.

If you realize your game is getting worse or you cannot control your emotions, quit the game. Sometimes a person can see the signs of upcoming tilt and knows what to do, but still remains at the table for various reasons. For example, he may think that he is still playing very well, or he may realize that he has slowed down a little, but the game is so good that it is not worth leaving.

But remember that tilt does not allow you to adequately perceive yourself and other players. Therefore, not leaving the table right after noticing the first symptoms of tilt, may lead to bad consequences.

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