Anger, Frustration, Madness - In Poker, we call it 'Tilt'. It's a state of mental frustration or anger which causes a poker player to adopt a poor strategy. Normally it means that the player will become overly aggressive, betting too much and getting involved in far too many pots, causing him to lose money.
In this article we look at the top 5 tips for avoiding tilt.
1. Poker is a life long game
This is the absolute truth and something that you need to repeat to yourself time and time again. Losing an all in when you have the best hand or getting sucked out on the river is always going to feel terrible. Sit back and think to yourself how many times it's been the other way round and you've hit your 2 outer. Remind yourselves of the chance %'s and what they mean. You'll hear people say "i should never lose this hand" - Well sorry but that's just not true....you should lose that hand some of the time. For example AA Vs KK we are 80%/20% favourites - That means we will win the hand 8 out of 10 times....so yes we are going to lose it 2/10 times. We have to lose this hand 20% of the time in life for poker to work out and we should be happy about this as we WIN it 80% of the time. This adds up to profit. Watch this video on EV in Poker to remind yourself!
2. Take deep breaths and think positively
Something so simple can do the trick. Many players may start to shout or curse at the table - this is just going to get you even more hyped up. Your heart is already working overtime and you are boiling up inside. Sit back on your chair, inhale and exhale slowly and surely, even close your eyes when you do so. A trick I like to use at the poker table is to monitor my breathing, it really zones you out from the tilt as you are inhaling for 3 seconds, exhaling for 3 seconds and counting it. And think positively using your greater knowledge and superiority! Eventually you'll come back out on top.
3. Have a drink
I'm not talking about drinking alcohol when playing! Get a cold glass of water or a drink you enjoy the taste of, taking gradual sips to unwind. A shot of flavour or a refreshing drink can take away from you thinking of the bad beat you just took and start you thinking about how nice the drink is. Very simple I know but this is the truth. It will also cool you down. When we get angry we can start to get hot and to sweat. This gets us even more angry and makes us feel uncomfortable. Hold the cup of iced water and try to relax.
4. Think about the hand
We may be tilting as we made a bad call or we got called when bluffing. Take a moment to just think about the hand and the way it was played. Did we make a bad play here? Was our play actually great? Did we do everything we can to win the pot which would work x amount of the time and be profitable in the long run. Can we make any notes on our opponent? Did he give away any tells? Its always hard to rethink over hands but doing it as soon as its over is the best time. Focus in on everything that happened and learn from it. Do you want to be a pro? Well this is what they do and what seperates them from the rest!
5. Go for a walk/Get away from the game
If you are playing live or online this can count for you. Tournaments have breaks or are deepstacked in the early stages so there is always the opportunity to just stand up and get away from the game for 5 minutes or more. Cash games we can leave anytime. We are not going to get blinded out and our seat will still be there when we get back. Walk to the bar to order a drink, go talk to a friend, get some fresh air or do some quick exercise. Lifting some weights, hitting a bag or jumping on a cross trainer will release all your tension. Sometimes staying at the table and seeing the guy stacking your chips is heart breaking. If you find yourself about to tilt simply get up and go. Splash some water on your face or even talk to a friend about the hand. Now no one likes to hear a bad beat story so just vent lightly or ask for poker strategy advice.