how to avoid tilt at the poker table

"The strong point in poker is never to lose your temper, either with those you are playing with or, more particularly, with the cards. There is no sympathy in poker. Always keep cool. If you lose your head you will lose all your chips."

- William J. Florence

Playing on tilt is when we do things we know we should not do because we are upset and disappointed for one reason or another. The problem faced with so many experienced poker players is they haven't learned how to avoid tilt.

If you're like me you've experienced poker tilt! From my personal experience I want to share with you the reasons for tilt as well as how to avoid tilt. Let's move on to the...

Reasons for Playing on Tilt

Exhaustion - Fatigue is one of the best recipes for playing on tilt.

  • When you are tired your decision-making will become impaired and a prime candidate for making mistakes.
  • If you are constantly yawning, have heavy and tired eyes, and having a hard time staying awake it's time to stop!
Cold Cards - Poker players often experience a wave of poker frustration from catching cold cards.

  • You need to maintain a calm approach or take a walk because players who face poker frustation tend to push the action more.
  • Will often play hands out of position and chase cards.
Poker Bad Beats - Bad beats and suck outs are the MAJOR CAUSE of playing on tilt..

  • By a "bad beat" I mean a BIG POT that you SHOULD have won... Then again, even perhaps OUGHT TO have won... but you DIDN'T.

  • For some reason, poker players can always dig up their FAILURES, but never remember their ACCOMPLISHMENTS at the poker table. Want to know how to avoid tilt? Focus on the POSITIVES!

Playing on tilt works the same way.

You can be winning hand after hand after hand all day... but then suddenly things change at the poker table.

You play by the book, you get great cards and yet find yourself LOSING pot after pot.

What you find is the formula for the most common cause of playing on tilt. Then poker frustration sets in and you find yourself doing the following…

  • Begin to question their play calling, trying to find flaws in their game.
  • Simply put, other players are making mistakes and getting lucky. There’s nothing you can do about it except move on and keep playing solid poker.

Abusive Opponents - Don't allow other players to put you on tilt with their sarcastic attitude and words.

In the brick and mortar casinos, poker etiquette is commonly observed among professional poker players.

However, playing online, you have the advantage of hiding behind a computer screen.

  • That anonymity allows people to get away with poor behavior that wouldn't be tolerated in real life.
  • There are players who will cut loose a heavy barrage of racial insults, foul language, and harassing statements.
The best way to handle those players is to mute them.

Problems at Home - Usually when bad things are happening to you, it tends to affect your play at the tables.

  • If you are fighting with your wife or you just lost your job stay away from the holdem tables, because poker and problems don't mix.
  • Don't look at poker as a way to escape from your problems, because if you're running from your problems you'll find them magnified at the POKER TABLE.

Results of Playing on Tilt

Tilt Distresses the Mind - Tilt is an emotional condition, which affects the way you think and behave.

  • As much as we'd like to believe we can ISOLATE our emotions from our thinking, we can't.
  • The truth is our emotions are MORE POWERFUL than logic or reasoning.
  • When you experience poker frustration, you'll start playing in a way that JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Someone playing on tilt will play more aggressively because their trying to catch up.

  • There is a universal poker rule: GAINS COME SLOWLY. LOSSES COME QUICKLY.
  • It can take THREE HOURS to win a hundred dollars but only THREE SECONDS to lose it all.
  • Texas Holdem strategy is all about playing smart and keeping the odds in your favor.

Players on tilt are hoping to catch a MIRACLE HAND like quads or a full house.

  • The problem is... the ODDS don't work like that.
  • You can't SUDDENLY win what you lost in prior sessions.
  • That money is no longer yours.

Tilt Distorts the Perception - A pre-flop raise of 1,000 chips no longer looks "big" after you've just lost 10,000. So you decide to call the raise with your Kplaying on tilt 2playing on tilt... because PLAYING ON TILT has got you by the balls.

Accept the outcome of every hand and then forget about it and move onto the next hand.

Tilt Destroys the Bankroll - Going on tilt will wipe out your bankroll. It takes months sometimes even years to build a Texas Hold'em bankroll which can be lost in one hand. So, save your bankroll and quit when you feel the poker frustration.

  • Get up and walk away.
  • Turn off the computer. I mean it! You'll be glad you did.

Remedy for Playing on Tilt

Get Away - Getting away is the secret to avoiding tilt.

  • Take a break from the game. Take as much time as you need. A day, a week or a month. However long it takes.
  • Just "sit out" for the next few hands.
Getting away from the game allows you to KEEP THINGS IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE.

Proper Bankroll Management - Playing on tilt will have the BIGGEST effect on your bankroll management.

  • Whether you spend ten hours or ten THOUSAND hours "grinding it out" at the poker tables, your money can VANISH if you go on tilt.
  • The key is to avoid playing limits which will destroy and wipe out your bankroll.
D.A.P - There are three poker strategies which separates a truly great player from an average player and you can find them on our strategies for Texas holdem poker page.

  • Discipline. Learning to discipline the emotions, playing within their bankroll and having total focus at the table.
  • Anticipation. Being prepared to anticipate what your opponent will do, but importantly what you will do.
  • Patience. If you practice patience in poker, the good cards WILL come!

Once a player can do this, they will have an advantage over their opponents. It is not enough to recognize when you're playing on tilt, you must be able to learn how to avoid tilt 100% of the time. It's all up to you.

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