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Controlling Tilt

  ‘Going on tilt’ is a poker term that means getting extremely angry and doing something stupid after an instance of bad luck. The most common time a poker player goes on tilt is if they suffer a bad beat, such as going all-in with pocket aces and being outdrawn by 7-2 off suit. 

Tilt can manifest itself in many ways, from breaking something on your desk if you are playing online poker, to moving all-in with rubbish hands as a way of avenging your bad luck.

While people’s reactions to tilt can differ immensely, one thing that remains constant is that everyone, at some point in their poker career, has gone on tilt. Indeed, the after effects are usually that their bankroll has taken a nosedive. 

There have been many articles advocating different coping strategies for tilt, over the years, but many have been relatively ineffective. Advice such as taking a break, thinking happy thoughts, and punching a punch bag are all ways to deal with the problem after it has occurred, but they don’t tackle the root of the problem. 

However, in recent years, Jared Tendler has pioneered a new way of dealing with tilt. Coming from a sports psychology background, and applying his skills in the poker world, Jared has defined tilt as an anger issue and one that needs to be resolved by retraining the brain. 

The hierarchical structure of the brain means that, when you get angry, you lose the ability to think logically and, as a consequence, you revert to your base instincts. Thus, when you are at the poker table, you lose the power to think rationally about a hand and, therefore, have to fall back on your primal poker instinct - which usually means playing like a maniac. 

By understanding this principle, you can begin to unlock the behaviours that characterise your tilt. Jared’s book, The Mental Game of Poker, is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the nature of tilt, and how to eliminate it from their game.  


Last Updated 22 May 2014
Poker - Controlling Tilt
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