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Controlling Tilt

Controlling tilt is one of the most difficult skills to master, even if it seems relatively easy. There are many different forms of tilt, from subtle tilt to the more obvious temper tantrums. A major key in controlling tilt (and avoiding tilt) is knowing when you are actually starting to tilt. Identifying when something is putting you on tilt is hardly easy.

Something as small as not eating for a few hours could be enough to set you into a sudden fit of rage. Not knowing when you about to tilt is the biggest problem for the majority of players. It is easier to defuse a situation when you know it is about to start. Never underestimate the importance of controlling tilt and emotions at the table.

There are two main ways that players generally go broke, aside from bad play. Those two reasons are poor bankroll management and the inability to control tilt. If you can effectively knock out the tilt that is hampering your game, you will not only feel better at the tables, but you will also see improved results.

The proof of emotional control in poker can be seen in some of the top players in the world. By contrast, some of the worst players are always going nuts at each and every little thing. Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and Tom Dwan are known for their very calm demeanor. You can bet that they are almost the same way when they are playing online.

Now, there is a fair chance that these players are a bit more emotional when they are playing online vs. live, but their play in live environments remains very telling. You can also look at players who couldn’t beat cash games if their lives depended on it. Phil Hellmuth is ridiculed by fans and players alike for his antics while he is playing.

Hellmuth not only loses, but he loses and throws a fit. If he was able to at least remain calm and regain his composure, he would inevitably reduce his losses or maybe even turn a profit. Sometimes it is a good idea to use TV pros as an example, and this is one of those times.

When Are You About to Tilt?

There are a whole lot of different indicators of tilt. Some of them will be completely obvious while others are going to be near impossible to pick up on. If you ensure that you are in a healthy mood for playing, the odds of you going on tilt will be greatly reduced. Likewise, if you are able to notice when you are prone to tilt, you will be able to take a break. Picking up on tilt is the first half of the battle, but you also need to be able to actually admit that it is happening.

Subtle inducers of tilt include things like mild sickness, hunger, tiredness, and so on and so forth. For the most part, these are basic requirements for maximum performance in pretty much any activity. It is much easier to get angry when losing a pot if you are already very tired or hungry. In the end you are frustrated with more than one thing. You don’t want to be sitting at a table with real money when you are very likely to lose your cool and burn off money unnecessarily. Always make sure that you are ready to play to your full potential.

The bigger indicators of tilt are obvious to the majority of players. If you lose a big hand to a bad beat, have an annoying player sitting next to you, or are dealing with another clearly aggravating factor, the likelihood of tilting is quite high. You have options when situations like this arise, though, so your best plan is to either eliminate what is tilting you or to leave the game altogether.

How Much Are You Tilting and How to Eliminate Tilt

The degree of your tilt will decide whether it makes more sense to quit the game completely, take a small break, or maybe even continue playing. Players who are on major, prolonged tilt, could very well be better off taking an extended break from the game. This could be a few days, a few weeks, or even several months. The end goal is to always be playing without any emotional distractions, so you need to take the initiative and ensure that there is nothing standing in between you and profitability.

Some “tips” for reducing or eliminating tilt are very elementary and will seldom work. For example, someone might suggest that you take a deep breath to help regain your composure. If this is enough to get you focused, you probably weren’t very tilted in the first place or have incredible emotional control. The actual methods for controlling tilt take a lot more effort than a deep breath.

Taking out your anger could certainly be a good idea if you want to get back to your normal self. This doesn’t necessarily mean smashing your computer, but yelling or tossing something across the room could do the trick. There is a difference between expressing your frustration once or twice to calm yourself down and going nuts with every hand that you play. If you are permanently tilting, you will need to look for some better solutions.

Quitting the game completely has been the only functional resolution for some players, but it doesn’t usually need to come to this. Taking breaks remains the best way to get back into a groove. If that isn’t something that interests you, consider moving down in stakes or reducing the number of tables that you are playing.

You could even switch the type of game that you are playing for a change of pace. There are many different ways to effectively control your tilt, but it is up to you to actually put them to work.

More General Poker Strategy
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