Going on Tilt
Poker is a very emotional game. When we invest time and money into something, we feel as if a part of us is wrapped up in that activity. Poker is no different. Poker also has an element of ego attached to it. How strong of a poker player you are considered to be is directly related to how much money you have won at the tables. As a result, sometimes we let our emotions get wrapped up so much in a game that when it goes wrong we let it affect our play in a negative way. This is known as going on tilt. How do you know that you are on tilt and how can one correct this problem. This article will explore going on tilt a little deeper.
When a player allows their emotional state to affect the way that they play poker, this is known as going on tilt. An example of this would be a player that is playing a very solid game at the table. They then lose with pocket aces when a player with a 7-2 flops trip deuces. The normally solid player then plays all types of trash hands due to the beat they took. You will hear some people say things such as “the only thing winning at this table is garbage, so I will play it too.” Many times when you hear this, you are hearing someone that has gone on tilt. Another example would be someone that takes a bad beat and then start making ridiculous raises pre-flop or open shoving their stack. This is another type of tilt.
A different type of tilt that some players go on is known as a reverse tilt. Sometimes when a player takes a series of beats, they play really tight and will only play certain hands. Sometimes they will even play tight and passive because they are scared to lose any more money. They have allowed their emotional state to affect their play.
How can a player avoid going on tilt? First, you must realize that poker is a game of numbers. If a hand is a 70% favorite to win, 30% of the time it will lose. That means that out of every 10 times you the hand, you will lose three times on average. Poker is also streaky. There will be times that situations will happen that seem to defy the odds. The only thing you can do in these cases is to move on to the next hand and try to not let your hand affect you. Next, evaluate how you played the hand and be honest with yourself. Did you really take a bad beat or could you maybe have done something differently? If the flop fell with two diamonds and you flopped a set, did you bet or did you try and slow play and let someone get there with a flush? If you played the hand properly and took a bad beat, that’s all a part of poker. Take solace in the face that you played well and that over the long run the results will even out.
To be honest, sometimes you just cannot avoid going on tilt. Poker is a very emotional game. If you are at a table with $1,000 and you all of a sudden lose it on one hand to a person that caught a 45 to 1 longshot on the river, that can sometimes be crushing. Every player goes on tilt from time to time. How you deal with it determines how it affects your play.
With that said, how does one get off of tilt once they go on tilt? Sometimes it is helpful to sit at the table and take some deep breaths to try and relax yourself. If you have an mp3 player or Ipod with you, listen to some music. Walk away from the table if you need to and calm down. If all else fails, leave the game altogether. There have been many times where in my personal poker career where I have taken a series of beats and just stood up and walked away. When asked later I would tell them that I was too upset with the way the cards were running to play. Sometimes, rather than losing money at the table to save face, you should just walk away and play another day.
Also, there are a few things that you should never do at the table. First, you should never berate a player at the table that gives you a bad beat, no matter how poorly they played. Phil Hellmuth is classic for berating the other players at his tables when they play poorly. While he is famous for doing this, in normal situations you will just cause hard feelings. Even worse, you may convince your player to try and play better. You actually want your opponent to play poorly as over time you will be able to take advantage of them and take their money.
Next, never abuse the dealer for your bad luck or how the cards are falling. The dealer is just there to pitch cards and keep the action going. They in no way influence what card falls on the flop, turn, or river or the hole cards in your hand. Players are known to throw cards at the dealer, call them names, curse at them, spit at them, and even physically assault them. The only thing abusing the dealer does is make you look bad.
Playing poker can be an emotional roller coaster. The trick is to keep your emotions in check and prevent them from affecting how you play. The more that you can keep yourself from going on tilt, the better poker player you will become.