Going on Tilt

Perhaps a term you'd prefer not to know (or have experience with), but it happens to all of us occasionally in our poker careers.

"Tilting" refers to letting your emotions interfere with your ability to play poker. Generally it occurs in the middle of a bad streak but it can also happen when things are going well.

Since poker is a game that requires reasoning, any kind of disruption or impediment to this process threatens your game. Naturally, it's hard to control your emotions all of the time, but in poker it's NECESSARY that you control them at the APPROPRIATE time. If you have a J and a Q of spades and the flop comes up with an ace, queen and 10 of hearts and a LOT of betting action at the table, you need to realize that it's best to fold. A tilting player would be inclined to go for that pot, no matter how poor that decision seems. Players on tilt keep going after fading dreams and the more they chase after them, the more their situation deteriorates.

People who get upset and can’t stay focused and reasonable will likely lose all of the money they brought to the table. Don't allow yourself to follow such a path.

Poker can seem inhuman in the way it triggers incredible emotions (high and low) but rewards people who are made of stone. Doesn't seem fair, does it? We’re not trying to scare you, of course, or to imply that all poker players have ice running through their veins, but it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to stay focused and rational while at the table. Generally speaking, most players tilt due to a bad loss or if they can't seem to win even a solitary hand. Some players tilt after a big win or two, but these runs generally are much shorter than tilts caused by losing.

So, what can you do about tilting? First of all, you must recognize when it’s occurring! That's the most important thing. Once you recognize that you're allowing your emotions to control your game, you can make the smart decision to sit out a game or two; think happy thoughts; have a drink; or do whatever it takes to get your composure back. In online poker, it's better not to curse and punch your computer: the damage you inflict will only make you angrier later (and cost more money!). Think about the Kenny Rogers song: "Walk away from trouble if you can" - sounds corny, but it sums up the situation perfectly.