In my previous blog I narrowed the definition of tilt to playing bad because of anger and then introduced the tilt profile as a way to better understand your own patterns of tilt. Now let’s get into how to use your tilt profile to begin taking control of tilt.
There are two strategies for controlling tilt. The first is to manage it in real time as it happens, and the other is to actually resolve the underlying cause for reason why it happens at all.
Many of you have done a lot of different things to try and manage tilt in the moment. Some of which may have worked for a while, but eventually it stops. Managing tilt is only a short-term strategy. If you want a permanent fix, you managing the problem in the short-term, while you work on resolving (or solving) the underlying cause. Otherwise it’s like using a band aid to fix a gunshot wound.
Strategy for managing tilt
Resolving the underlying cause for tilt might seem like a very big thing, but that’s only because it’s new. The best way to think about resolving tilt is to compare it to resolving a problem with a friend who pissed you off. Once you talked it and come to an understanding, any hard feelings or anger between you goes away. The same thing happens when you resolve your reasons for tilt.
Anger at its core represents conflict. Conflict is easy to see when it’s between you and another person, the difference with tilt it that it’s most often is conflict between you and poker. Clearly you can’t talk things out with poker like you can with a friend, so in the next blog I’ll help.
For now, here’s the strategy for managing tilt in real time.
- Recognition. The tilt profile is designed to increase your ability to spot the signs of tilt early, before anger rises to threshold. Recognizing the signs of tilt is really no different than spotting a profitable time to 3bet. It’s all about having the knowledge. Because we know the brain shuts off access to that knowledge, you HAVE to study your tilt profile and keep adding details as new ones show up. The more knowledge and skill you have, the easier tilt is to control.
- Deep breath. The purpose of taking a few slow deep breaths (5-10 seconds) is primarily to give you some mental space from anger and not to relax you. It’s the equivalent of leaving the room for a minute to cool off during a heated argument with a friend. The goal is to give yourself a moment to think, and that leads to step 3.
- Inject the logic. You already do this, but most of you try when it’s already too late – after anger has crossed threshold. Pulling yourself back over the edge is FAR harder than stopping it early. Away from the table come up with a sentence, or one you already use, that will get you thinking in a better way when tilt takes over. Try to make it specific to the cause of your tilt. So if you tilt when a bad player outdraws you, try something like, “In the long-run it’s profitable when bad players call me with bad hands, stay focused on playing solid.” Whatever your statement is write it down on a piece of paper, a sticky note, your cell phone, word document, etc, because you CANNOT rely on your brain to think of this statement as tilt is on the rise.
- Refocus on playing well. The whole point of this is to keep you at the table playing well at a time where you would usually lose control. Only players skilled at this process can jump right back into playing great poker, the rest of you need reminders of solid poker so you can steadily work your way back into playing great poker. On that same piece of paper, write out a few reminders to correct your common mistakes or factors such as, position, prior action, or hand range, that you typically forget about as tilt rises. Once again, don’t assume you can remember.
- Repeat as often as necessary.
- Quit. Always a great option when even with this strategy you aren’t able to maintain control of your game. When that happens it means you need to, 1) work harder to manage tilt by better understanding the early signs, 2) resolve the underlying cause so the amount of emotion is less than thus much easier to control.