Poker strategy – avoiding the tilt.
A poker player goes on "tilt" when he is playing in a different way from normal - a way driven by emotion because of what's just happened in the game.
Rather than stick to his normal game plan, the player on tilt does things that he wouldn't do under normal circumstances. He starts to make over-aggressive bets, stays in the betting for too long when he should be getting out and totally loses his discipline and self-control.
So how does it happen? Why does a poker player go on tilt?
The main reason, in fact the reason in the overwhelming amount of times a poker player goes on tilt, is that he has just suffered a bad loss when he had expected to win the hand, in other words a "bad beat".
This causes a massive surge in emotion in the poker player which cannot be controlled by the average person. Emotions are far more powerful than our powers of reasoning and logic, they will always win the battle of thought processes.
In his mind the player sees all his patient poker stategy that he's used to build up his chip stack being blown away in an instant, and the natural response is to try and recover the deficit just as quickly.
The brain is trying to win back all that lost money as fast as possible resulting in the poker player playing hands he would not normally play and calling bets he would fold nine times out of ten.
Can "tilt" be avoided?
In a word yes. It requires discipline and the ability to stick to an emergency exit plan but it can be done.
Some people, even poker professionals, mistakenly believe that tilt can be avoided by pausing for a few moments to collect your thoughts and "counting to ten".
This simply won't do it.
The only real way to avoid going on tilt is to get yourself away from the poker table altogether for a few hands. If you're in a casino, stand up and walk away. Get a coffee or just take a walk. If you're playing on the internet click on the "Sit Out" button and walk away from your computer for a while.
Most importantly, you need to do it immediately after you lose the big hand, as soon as the hand is over you get out of there. Don't be tempted to just play the next one I case your luck changes, that's a recipe for disaster.
How long do you take a break for? As long as it takes. You need to get yourself back into the right frame of mind and start playing your poker strategy again like you did before the bad beat. Get emotion out of the equation, it's not anybody's "fault", it just happened. Switch back into logical mode and get on with the game.
The reason that poker professionals don't go on tilt is that they are used to it. They have played so much poker that they know it's inevitable there will be hands they thought they were winning only to suffer a bad loss. It's part of the game and they just get on with it.
In the end good poker strategy will always beat emotion, calculation will win over instinct and experience will triumph against almost anything.
Article by Ian McIntosh, get regular poker freeroll updates in your mailbox every week for FREE!