What is Tilt?
Tilt is when a player plays poorly due to frustration at the table. This is usually because of a bad beat or losing a big pot. Some people tilt more than others and everyone tilts in different ways. A key to winning at poker is to minimise the time you spend on tilt and lose the absolute minimum during this period.
There are of course different levels of tilt at a poker table. Some people think that if a player is on tilt then they will go all in with a poor hand, as a way of venting their anger. This of course very rarely happens as players who play at a reasonable level are not going to literally throw money away just because they have lost a hand previously. They do however tilt like anyone else; there are much more subtle forms of tilt which you can pick up on at the tables.
Examples of Tilt
For example, you will often see people entering pots with another player just to “get back at them” for winning a pot against them previously. When you see this it is highly likely that player is on tilt, as it is unlikely they would play this many hands against one person if they had no problem with them. They are likely risking more of their money to try and beat or outplay an opponent with a worse hand, which is of course a silly idea. In poker you are trying to win money in the long run, not win a pot right now to settle a score.
The very best players are not only great thinkers about the game, they control their emotions and offset the effects of tilt
The most common sign that a player is on tilt is that you will see them chasing draws that they otherwise would not. For example if a player makes a pot sized bet on the turn and you hold nothing but a naked flush draw, usually most competent players would fold. However when you bring tilt into the equation, a lot of seemingly good players would make a call here. This is an example of chasing losses which is by far the most common form of tilt, and regularly leads too a larger day in the red.
Do not let your emotions get the better of you!
The worst thing that you can do when tilted is to move up stakes, however this is common amongst players with little discipline. This is a dangerous thing to do even when not on tilt, as not using solid Bankroll Management for long periods will almost always lead to failure. However when you couple the fact that you are playing in games that you cannot afford with your tilt mentality, it is a recipe for disaster. The reasoning behind this is of course an attempt to win back losses at lower stakes much quicker than it would take normally, that and the fact playing higher does of course mean you could show a nice profit. However as discussed in our Bankroll Management article, this usually has a negative ending.
How can I reduce 'Tilt'?
Due to the fact tilt is a huge issue for every player, software has recently been released which is designed to help you with tilt. The most popular of these on the market is called “Tilt Breaker”. This basically does everything possible to prevent you playing whilst on tilt. Such as allowing you to set a stop loss, once you lose a certain amount it will shut down your poker client for a pre-decided time period for you to cool off. It can also block off higher stakes tables and side games (roulette, blackjack etc). The software can also stop you playing whilst distracted; you can set it to block out all applications that are not poker related. To anyone who is serious about winning at poker, preventing tilt is essential and I would recommend using this. Tiltbreaker can be purchased in the PokerVIP discount store for the very reasonable price of $40.
The very best players are not only great thinkers about poker, they are able to offset the effects of tilt very quickly, and thus will not lose money in situations that others might.