What is Tilt in Poker and How Do You Avoid it?

What is Tilt in Poker?

Tilt simply put, is the negative state of mind one can easily slip into while playing poker. If you’re playing single games, you could take a break, but in a tournament, you don’t have that luxury. And so, it’s critical to develop ways of managing your emotions and not letting tilt overwhelm you. Anger and frustration impair your judgement and detract from your game.

No player is immune to tilt, but you can certainly improve your internal management skills to better retain control of your mindset.

What Causes Tilt?

There are many causes, and these will differ from player to player. Tilt can be triggered by a bad run, losing a series of coin flips, losing to a less skilled player or a perceived slight. It could even be something entirely unrelated to poker. Surprisingly, a winning streak can also destabilise some players.

What are the Results of Tilt?

Once in that state of mind, enthusiasts of gambling are inclined to make plays they know they shouldn’t. They make decisions fuelled by emotion instead of logic. For example, playing a losing hand repeatedly or bluffing too much. Tilt is a sure-fire way to burn through your bankroll as you make bad bets and negative emotions lead to bigger losses at casinos.

What can You Do to Manage Tilt?

It’s wise to assess your mental and emotional state before you start playing. If necessary, take a little time out to centre yourself and address any issues backed up from the day.

Ensure you’ve had enough rest and eaten a decent meal.

Getting to know your triggers is an important tool in managing tilt. Try keeping a record of what sets you off so you can anticipate negative impacts in future. Observe your emotions and reactions to see where you can handle things differently next time. Put safeguards in place.

Collect a few simple mantras you can repeat to yourself to calm yourself such as “the cards will come”, “you win some you lose some” – choose ones that work for you.

If you can take a break, head to the bathroom and splash water on your face. Take a few deep breaths, perhaps try a few stretches.

Daniel Negreanu Poker Player

Professional Player, Daniel Negreanu, Suggests a Few Very Useful Tools:

Stay in the moment – when you feel yourself slipping into a negative state, try and centre yourself and check in physically. Analyse your emotions and vent your frustration internally.

Injecting logic – remind yourself that variance is a natural part of poker and there’s no need to react. This can help you to feel calmer and less out of control.

Mistakes are an opportunity – analyse your mistakes and learn from them

Remembering the fundamentals – when you feel yourself starting to tilt, remind yourself to stick to the fundamentals as a sensible guide to defend against making emotional decisions.

We hope that some of these suggestions help you to anticipate and manage tilt better in future. Don’t be too hard on yourself, even the top professionals have likely been through similar experiences.