Poker Mental Game & Planning

Types of Tilt and 5 Step Process to Avoid Tilt

8,976 Views 4 Comments on 28/4/14

While you are all aware of tilt as a general concept, did you know that there are different types of tilt, and it can sometimes even be caused by things completely unrelated to poker or even by winning too much over a short period of time. Being able to recognize and prevent these types of tilts will help your overall performance at the tables.

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This Article corresponds with our Exclusive Training Video - Tilt: Everything you need to know.

Definition of Tilt:

“Tiltpokerimage is a poker term for a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy”

Notice that there is nowhere in this definition that says “monkey spew tilt”. Tilt is simply when we are not playing our best game.

Are there different types of tilt?

  • Soft Tilt - This can be when we are playing our B+ game (still winning but not as much) and is often not recognizably at first glance.
  • Hard Tilt - This is when tilt is recognizable ie. Monkey spew tilt, becoming too emotional, starting battles with players and will affect your mental state a lot (Smashing mice, laptops etc.).
  • Winners Tilt - This is when we are winning at the tables and begin to play future spots with these winnings in mind. Eg You win a stack so you might stack lighter knowing you will be at worst break even. This also covers playing more hands as we feel “invincible” or believe we are the “table captain”.
  • Losers Tilt - This is the most common form of tilt when a player losses through bad play or variance and reacts negatively.
  • Poker Related - This covers all causes on the felt ie. Bad beats, run bad (run good) and players at the table.
  • Unrelated - This covers all off the felt causes ie. Frame of mind caused by arguments, money troubles and tiredness.

What causes tilt?

  • Only YOU will know - Everyone reacts differently to different situations. One player can’t take a bad beat whereas another can’t take having an argument before sitting down at the table for example.
  • Bad beats/ Run bad- This is a natural reaction to feeling hard done by “I should have won that pot, poker is rigged etc.”
  • Bad play- More common amongst players who are more immune to tilt caused by bad beats/ run bad as they worry less about results and more about their ability.
  • Losing big pots- Again a natural response to taking a big blow most notably when moving up stakes. This can simply knock the wind out of your sails and make you disappointed for the rest of the session.
  • Being too lucky in a session- This is when you are running hot (sometimes obliviously) and believe you are playing far better than you actually are. This will lead to making more inventive plays which are –EV which you believe are +EV either due to results in that session or because you feel you have a greater edge than you do.
  • Winning a big pot- This might lead us to not worry about the next big pot or indeed the next pots period as we have already made our money for the session.
  • Tiredness- Kinda simple really. We aren’t going to play great poker when we are falling asleep yet so many people persist in playing.
  • Real life situations- Arguments, money troubles etc. anything that will affect your ability to play that isn’t actually on the felt.

It is important that you recognize which of these (or anything else) causes you to tilt as this will enable you to prevent it in the future.

How can we fix tilt? 5 step process

  • Step one: Prepare for each session

Go into a session mentally prepared, have a warm up and/or start with fewer tables. This will allow you to pinpoint your tilt cause more accurately whilst potentially fixing one that you have in having no warm up period.

  • Step two: Recognition

Know what causes you to tilt and begin to look out for spots which will likely trigger it (eg After you’ve been sucked out on).

Note down symptoms (eg “I felt like I wanted to punch something”). This will confirm that a certain cause is your tilt trigger.

  • Step three: Why?

Why are you feeling why you are? (eg “That fish sucked out on me!”). This will provide you with the reason as to you tilt which will often be a mental game leak.

  • Step four: Rationalise

Look for a rational reason as to why what you are feeling is unjustified (eg. “Fish sucking out on me is good as it keeps them coming back”. “Variance is our friend as without variance fish would just never play”). This might make you feel stupid but will highlight your mental game leak.

  • Step five: Prevention

Have a note ready with your rational reason for next time it happens. This can be a sticky not, screen savour or just a phrase in your head. It is important to recognise that this is an IN GAME “cheat” to prevent tilt from getting out of control in a session. The real work comes in training your mind to eliminate the cause its self.

These steps will not be a tilt killer that works overnight. It will take weeks and months to recognise the cause, pick out spots in game where you feel tilt coming on and be able to find the correct response to reduce tilt it in that session.

When should I quit the session?

When tilt becomes uncontrollable. Often reducing tables or even dropping down limits for a while will help clear your mind so it is advisable to do this before calling it a night on the session. Remember quitting reduces our hourly which ultimately will reduce our profit.

This Article corresponds with our Exclusive Training Video - Tilt: Everything you need to know.



Dan O'Callaghan

Primarily an MTT grinder, Dan began playing poker over curry and Kopperberg whilst at university about 4 years ago.   He exists as several aliases but is best know as 'danshreddies'. His biggest score came earlier in the year when he finished 2nd at PKR Live fo ... Read More


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Loohshinon 3/4/20

One of the most important topic every aspiring poker player should know. Poker is indeed more of a mental game and our worst opponent is usually ourselves.


vatopkron 2/4/19

Really good article. I think always we have to inject logic in our game and our live.


gato_aliciaon 27/8/18

Nice stuff, never thought about the existence of "positive" kind of tilt, like the winner one. Interesting article


lucky.chipon 22/10/16


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