Tilt is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of poker and a big reason why it is because it is defined too broadly.
When someone plays bad you’ll often hear them say it was because they were simply on tilt, but without saying why.
“I was playing ok, then I went on tilt, then I started playing badly.” It’s as though tilt is just accepted as part of the game, rather than something to improve.
There are lots of different things that can cause you to play bad: you might be playing too loose or too tight, anxious in a big pot, running bad, tired, bored, distracted by the internet, a rude player in the chat box, and many others.
Each of reasons to play bad actually requires a unique strategy to fix it. If all defined under the umbrella of tilt, it would be like a going to a doctor saying that you don’t feel well diagnosing you as being ‘sick.’ Thanks doc.
Having spent 1000’s of hours coaching poker players, answering questions, reading/posting on forums, etc, and the most common reason poker player play bad when referring to tilt is anger.
Tilt = Anger + Bad Play
There is only one reason why anger causes bad play. When your emotions rise too high the brain is designed to shut off higher level thinking. You can’t think because the brain has shut off your ability to as part of what’s commonly known as the fight/flight mechanism. If your brain didn’t do this you would just be angry and still playing fine. Tilt wouldn’t exist.
Nobody has control over this brain function. The only thing you can do control your anger from getting to the point where your thinking goes away. The only way to do this is to understand your patterns of tilt. Everyone tilts in predictable ways for them. Only when you understand this pattern can you control tilt, because it’s impossible to control something you do not understand.
So start off by doing a Tilt Profile and then in my next blog I’ll show you how to use this information to formulate a strategy to gain control of tilt.
On paper or the computer answer these questions. If other ideas about tilt come to mind write them down too, these questions are designed also to get you thinking more narrowly about tilt. Then in a few days do it again. Often more details will emerge about your tilt that is critical for eventually being able to control tilt.
- What causes you to tilt?
- When you’re on tilt describe how you know you are? What are the physical signs or actions (heat in your head, punching the table), the things you say out loud or in your head, as well as the specific poker mistakes you make.
- What are the early signs of tilt? The tendencies that show up before you go on tilt.
- Try to establish what your threshold is. How far can frustration rise and you maintain control? What’s the point where it gets out of control?