Poker Tilting and How to Avoid it

If you’ve ever played poker, or even watched it on TV, you’ve probably heard the phrase “on tilt” or “tilting” used. You might have even seen someone on tilt and not known it. So, what is tilting in poker? Basically, it’s throwing a tantrum after a hand loss. There are two common reasons to go on tilt.

The Bad Beat:

A bad beat is when a player has the “best” hand, or hand that is statistically more likely to win, but their opponent, who had weaker cards, gets lucky and makes a better hand. Bad beats can cause anyone to become upset, but emotion is the enemy of a good poker players
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The Losing Streak:

Whether it’s a regular loss or a bad beat ceases to matter to many players when they lose several hands in a row. Even if bad decisions they made were the source of their own problems, all they see is that they are on a losing streak. Many players view these consecutive hand losses as unfair, rigged or some sort of conspiracy against them by the poker powers that be.

Self-Feeding Cycle:

One of the many problems with getting upset and going on tilt is that it is a self-feeding cycle. That is, when you lose, you get upset. When you are upset, you make bad decisions. When you make bad decisions, you lose more. When you lose more, you tilt more. It’s a vicious trap that you shouldn’t fall into, if you want to be a good player.

Avoiding Tilting:

Few people, if any, are totally emotionless, yet, poker is a game that doesn’t reward emotions. If you want to succeed at poker, you need to learn to recognize a tilt when it happens and act accordingly to avoid it escalating out of control.

For example, if you’ve just taken a bad beat, you might want to play almost any hand that follows, in an effort to get your chips back as soon as possible. That’s really not a good strategy, though. Your best option is to take your time and wait to catch a good hand to play with. Otherwise, your losses are likely to grow, and so is your tilt tantrum.

Time Out:

Taking a break is a very good thing to do, if you feel yourself tilting. It’s usually better to sit out for a few hands completely than to play when you’re upset. If the other players sense your anger, they will take advantage of it, after all.

As far as what you should do during your break, that’s up to you. You should do what calms you down. That might be going to the bathroom and splashing cold water on your face. It might be getting some food or a drink. It might even be talking to a buddy or family member.

If you happen to be playing poker online in the comfort of your own home, you have even more options. Take a shower. Watch a little TV. Take the dog out. No two people have the same way to cure poker tilt. The choice is yours. Whatever you choose, the important thing is to choose it, that way, you can avoid poker tilting.

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