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If you played online poker for long enough, you probably already played on a tilt. Tilting is something no player can avoid, it just happens, no matter how well you play and no matter how flawless your strategy is.
Texas Holdem is a poker genre that throws the biggest luck-induced variance at players. In a word: even if you barely know the rules of the game, you can sometimes get lucky and beat the best player on the best positive EV call he makes. That’s just how it is… Because of this problem, playing on a tilt is much bigger an issue in Texas Holdem than in any other poker variant.
Obviously, there is not much you can do against the luck factor. As I’m writing these lines, I just lost a hand after having flopped two pairs (K and 4)
I had a K,4o in the pocket, the flop came A,K,4 so I obviously raised to intimidate. That A in there, didn’t look good… Needless to say, two other players re-raised me (they both had a pair of Aces at that stage, as I later found out) Then an 8 came on the turn, and they both raised and re-raised again. I had to go all-in only to see another 8 hit the table on the river. Both opponents drew 2 pairs: As and 8s. Talk about tough luck…
Things like this, always have a high emotional impact on a player, whether he can deal with it or not.
Going on a tilt is one thing, playing on one is an entirely different problem. Whenever you take a seat at a poker table, whether it’s a virtual or a real one we’re talking about, you have to be aware of the variance that is about to hit you.
In order to be a long-term winner, you need to exploit the positive sections of this variance to the maximum, while keeping the negative part as obscured as possible. Play and play well when Lady Luck seems to be on your side, minimize the “casualties” when she’s not.
In this respect, playing on a tilt is the last thing you want to do. Think about it this way: if you had trouble beating the table while on your best game and while on your best behavior, what makes you believe you’ll have an easier time beating it on crap calls and no strategy whatsoever?
I know that there is a certain –albeit twisted – logic behind acting crazy like that. One figures, “hell this guy keeps beating me on crap, he does everything wrong, yet he wins all the time. Why don’t I try the same approach? It should work for me too.” There is one fundamental problem only with this logic: it’s all baloney. Luck is completely random, and it won’t favor you as much as it favors your opponent just to even things out. There is no such thing as balance when luck is involved, even though on a coin-flip gamble you’ll win 50% of the time in the long-run.
Another factor that prompts tilting, is the following: a reasonably good player sees all his bankroll, built up with hard work and making use of every little bit of edge he could locate, from rakeback, to positional advantages and so on, blown away in a second by some rookie who doesn’t seem to have an idea what he’s doing.
That naturally raises the urge to try to make up for the losses, thus our player will leave his proven comfort-zone, and he’ll start taking some out-of-the-ordinary chances. That, of course will lead to more losses, and that – in turn – will further fuel the tilt.
Professionals agree that there’s only one way to avoid going on a tilt: you need to take a break. When I say “break”, I mean the type of break when you get up from the table and go for a walk.
Simply closing your eyes and counting to ten won’t cut it.