Recognizing and Preventing Going On Tilt

Going on tilt can be extremely damaging for your mental wellbeing and poker bankroll

Going on tilt has decimated the bankroll of many poker players over the years. Some have even lost entire bankrolls due to the dreaded tilt monster rearing its ugly, little head. I guarantee you have tilted at some point in your poker career. You’ve probably tilted this week! But what is tilt, why is it dangerous, and how do you prevent it?

What Is Tilt?

Tilt is the phrase used to describe when a player loses control of their emotions at the table. Think of it as the player’s brain short-circuiting. Players react differently when tilting. Some play hyper-aggressively, others tighten up massively. Some got angry, while others withdraw their bankrolls from the online poker site and stop playing altogether.

There are many reasons for these short circuits happening and we’ll touch on some of these shortly.

Every poker player has experienced or experiences tilt. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you! The best players in the world have a better grasp on their emotions, but they’re not immune. Where a typical tilting player may go from playing their A-game down to a D-game, top professionals are able to continue playing at a higher standard.

Why Is Tilting Dangerous?

Tilting isn’t dangerous per se unless you’re the type of tilter who gets angry and starts throwing items around. It’s extremely dangerous to your mental well-being and potentially to your bankroll.

You’re not playing to anywhere near the best of your ability when tilt appears. The game is more difficult to win these days so you always need your wits about you. Tilting makes this impossible because your emotions have taken over.

All rationality goes out of the window for a tilting player, which can lead to big losses. Also, tilt accumulates over time, if you allow it to. It snowballs and, in turn, creates more tilt. It’s a nasty part of the game that you need to learn to control.

How Do I Know I’m Tilting?

Knowing the signs of when you’re tilting is a skill in itself. Players get caught up in the moment and don’t realize they’re tilting until the damage is already done. Ask yourself if you’re feeling emotionally confused or frustrated right now. Is it affecting your play in that you’re playing less than optimally? You’re on tilt if you answer yes. Remember that different people exhibit signs of tilting in different ways.

Why Do Poker Players Tilt?

One man’s reason for going on tilt is another’s reason not to. Poker players are individuals and each has their own characteristics that shape them.

A common form is what the amazing Jared Tendler coined as injustice tilt. Some players legitimately believe they’re more unlucky than their opponents. They have bad beat stories after bad beat stories and tend to be jealous of others’ achievements.

You find players tilting this way make sub-optimal plays because they ‘just know’ they’re going to lose anyway.

Players who hate losing can go on tilt by losing something as insignificant as a single pot. They get angry and upset if they lose and have a severe reaction to it. This snowballs the effects because playing angry inevitably leads to more losses.

Are you the type of person who beats themselves up after making a mistake? Does it play on your mind and affect your decision-making? You, my friend, are suffering from mistake tilt. You can stop this by learning to accept avoiding all mistakes is an impossible task.

Entitlement tilt is another common form of this poker issue. These players honestly believe they deserve to win more than their opponents. They grow angry when a lesser-skilled player beats them in a hand. They berate opponents for their poor play. Fifteen-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth is a walking, talking example of this form.

How Do Your Stop Tilting?

How do you completely stop tilting? You don’t. We told you previously that even the best players in the world suffer from this affliction. You can, however, take measures to prevent it.

Taking notes when you started tilting and what you think triggered is a good starting point. As is following a solid bankroll strategy because losing won’t be as damaging to you and less likely to send you on tilt.

Improve your knowledge about the mathematics of poker, especially variance. This arms you with the information that sometimes you will run badly, often for tens of thousands of hands in a row. Furthermore, try to understand we need weak players to occasionally win to keep games profitable. Nobody would win money if everyone played perfectly. Don’t tap the glass and scare the fish away!

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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