Being “on tilt”

The most common way to “tilt” is losing, often a recent victim of a bad beat, or being defeated in a particularly public and humiliating fashion. For example: -Folding to a large bet only to have your opponent turn over a poor hand (being shown a bluff). -Being bluffed by a small bet (a post oak bluff). -Having an opponent “suck out,” or catch a miracle card late in the hand (an unlikely out-draw). -Having what you think is a dominating hand bested by an unexpected more powerful hand. -Standing up to an overly aggressive player who plays nearly every pot but encountering a big hand. -Having an all-in showdown with a strongly superior hand pre-flop and losing. -In online Poker, putting a lot of money into the pot with the likely best hand, and not being able to see the showdown due to internet connection failure or software crash. -Making a bad play and realizing it afterward -Miss-clicking in online poker and losing a big pot as a result (like clicking call instead of fold to an all-in) These can upset the mental equilibrium essential for optimal poker judgment. Another common way to tilt is from bad behavior of the others at the poker table. Excessive rudeness (or lewdness), being heavily intoxicated at the table, and poor table etiquette are ways that players can wear on nerves.

Advice when tilted

For the beginning player, the elimination or minimization of tilt is considered an essential improvement that can be made in play (for instance in the strategic advice of Mike Caro and especially, Lou Krieger). Many advanced players (after logging thousands of table-hours) claim to have outgrown “tilt” and frustration, although other poker professionals admit it is still a “leak” in their game. One commonly suggested way to fight tilt is to disregard the outcomes of pots, particularly those that are statistically uncommon. So-called “bad beats,” when one puts a lot of chips in the pot with the best hand and still loses, deserve little thought; they are the product of variance, not bad strategy. This mindset calls for the player to understand poker is a game of decisions and correct play in making the right bets over a long period of time. Another method for avoiding tilt is to try lowering one’s variance, even if that means winning fewer chips overall. Therefore, one may play passively and fold marginal hands, even though that may mean folding the winning hand. This may also imply that one plays tightly— and looks for advantageous situations. Once tilt begins, players are well-advised to leave the table and return when emotions have subsided. When away from the table, players are advised to take time to refresh themselves, eat and drink (non-alcoholic) if necessary, and take a break outside in the fresh air. If none of these work in lessening tilt, players are advised to leave the game and not return to playing until they have shaken off the results that led to the tilt. The intent of the advice is to prevent the upset person from letting negative emotions lead to bigger losses that can seriously hurt one’s bankroll.