Poker Articles!

Avoiding tilt is a life hack

There are many things we should do that are easier said than done.  One of those things is avoiding tilt.  Avoiding tilt is especially important to poker players and, as you will see in this article, it is also enormously important for everyone every day.  

Poker Players Benefit in Many Ways from Learning to Deal with Tilt

You’re playing poker online.  You have learned to enjoy online poker more than poker at a land-based casino for many reasons. 

Here are just three of the many benefits of playing poker online.  Online poker saves you travel time and costs.  Online poker is more anonymous than poker at a land-based casino.  Mobile poker is amazingly convenient. 

But suddenly you lose a hand that you thought you were sure to win.  You were so sure that you would win that you made a huge bet on the river.  Then your opponent got incredibly lucky and won the pot.

Letting Nature Take its Course or Acting like an Adult

The natural instinct is to freak out, curse the poker gods, get really angry, and throw a hissy fit.  Those are a good working definition of tilt.  Avoiding tilt, then, means avoiding relinquishing control to your natural instincts when you get a bad beat.  It is important to always be an adult even after, or especially after, a bad beat.

Now let’s talk about why it is so important to avoid tilt.

Taking Away Your Concentration

In poker, you have to concentrate on every hand.  You fold most of the cards you are dealt even before the flop.  This is the nature of poker: you get a lot of bad hands.  It is because we all get so many bad hands that we want to win so much when we get a hand we can win with.

Still, we will lose some of those hands, too.  But we need to bring back our concentration immediately.  The next hand is coming and if we are still on tilt, we might make a very poor judgment call on that hand.  It is a well-known poker phenomenon that many players stay in the next hand after a bad beat just to “get even”.

These players never ask nor answer the obvious question: Who do you want to get even with?  They want to get even with the poker gods, entities that do not exist.

Every Hand is a Learning Experience

We must never denigrate the value of what we can learn from a single hand.  That’s why we need to bring our concentration back to 100% immediately after a bad beat.  The hand you just lost is already ancient history. 

Avoiding tilt also allows you to learn from the hand you just lost.  You may have misread your opponent’s range.  You might have calculated pot odds, equity, or any other modern mathematical concept incorrectly.  If you can learn from your mistakes, you will win more often going forward.

The key element in avoiding tilt is exactly that: going forward.

Always Maintain Your Self-Confidence

After you learn the basics of evaluating hands, betting on position, computing the mathematics of a hand, deciding what your opponent is probably betting on and all of the other parameters you have to consider as a hand progresses, you need to maintain steadfast self-confidence that you know what you are doing.

Tilt is the most effective destroyer of self-confidence.  A bad beat should not hurt your self-confidence.  If you made a mistake in evaluating the hand in any way, you can learn from the mistake.  But if you go on tilt, and especially if you know that you are on tilt and can’t bring yourself out of it, you will lose a massive amount of self-confidence.

In other words, your self-confidence, which is so important for success in poker, will soar if you avoid tilt after a bad beat and your self-confidence will plummet if you succumb to tilt after a bad beat.

Things to Do When Tilt Happens

What can we do when we feel ourselves tilting?  Many people have suggested two seemingly opposite activities to deal with tilt in any situation: going to sleep and taking a walk. 

We often “sleep on it” before making an important decision.  We also “sleep it off” if we have had too much to drink.  Sleep rejuvenates us if we are tired enough to fall asleep.  A healthy person wakes up full of energy and ready to take on the challenges of the day.

Many people don’t like to go to sleep to deal with an emotional crisis which tilt is.  For these people, going for a walk is a great way to replenish their coping mechanism.  It is especially helpful to walk in a park or in any other natural setting.

Alternatives to Sleeping and Walking

Some people simply call a friend or friends and try to get together.  Some people like to go to the movies.  Going to the movies is much better than playing action-packed computer games.  It is also a lot better than watching a movie at home.  When you need to get out, you should get out!

Things Not to Do When Tilt Occurs

  • Watching television
  • Eating
  • Drinking alcohol to excess

It is a lot better to get out rather than stay in and watch television.  Television is regularly condemned even by people who watch often as having “hundreds of channels and nothing to watch”.  So, especially after your emotions have been assaulted, don’t watch television.  Going to the movies is much better because a movie in a movie theater is an excursion and the movie will engage your imagination far more than television can.

It is always good to keep your eating under control.  Especially after a difficult poker session, fast food is not a fast cure.  If you get together with friends and they want to go to a restaurant, treat it as an excursion.  Try something new from the menu, something you have never tried before. 

The downside of drinking to excess is too obvious to elaborate on further.

Some People Like to Read

If you love to read and have a book that you are already engaged with, then reading may be a good cure for tilt.  However, most poker players need to get out and do something more active than reading.  After a difficult poker session, people have a lot of pent-up energy and reading is too passive for them.

Avoiding Tilt is Important in Everything We Do

We sincerely hope that this article has shined some helpful light on the ever-present phenomenon of tilt.  You can apply the lessons we have detailed here in every phase of your life.  Your concentration will improve, your self-confidence will soar and you will feel a lot better about yourself.