A lot of players, myself included have had alot of problems dealing with tilt. The main difficulty that many of us encounter is the same, we get too involved emotionally in a game that has lots of swings and let tilt alter our decisions when playing.
To stop tilt, we first need to define what it is. And then make adjustments to counter it, just like when playing poker. Here is my definition: Tilt is the effect of emotional stress causing someone to play a hand differently to how they would play a hand at the peak of there ability.
Now we have that sorted, to stop tilting we cant just tell ourselves to stop doing it. Its not that simple. It requires work, understanding and persistence. We first need to figure out what the causes of tilt are. For every person the exact causes are different, for me however the cause was not losing a big pot whilst allin ahead, it wasn’t even loosing a 150bb flip, yeah it sucks, but that doesn’t make me tilt. What really pushes my buttons and mades me steam is playing bad. So whenever I make a play that I later figure out to be suboptimal, whether its 2 seconds after I click call, or 5 seconds after I bluff shove the river and my opponent timebanks. Whenever I feel like I have made a mistake, I start feeling sick, agitated, uneasy. So in essence, any mistake, brain lapse, tilting play will make me tilt harder.
What did I do to stop this? Well I haven’t completely conquered this. I am a man with several vices and tilt seems to be one of mine, although, less then it was before. This is what I have done:
1) Play earlier in the day. I find that my brain is at its peak a few hours after I have woken up. I play my best poker during this time and hence make less mistakes.
2) Play less hours overall. I find that when I am playing long hours my brain becomes fatigued and I am more prone to make brain farts/mistakes. Regular breaks help sto p this, but humans are not designed to be sitting in front of a PC for 12 hours a day, concentrating at maximum level, playing multiple tables. This is a recipe for burnout, spew and tilt for most people. Take regular breaks! Dont play for too long!
3) Play only when you want to. I have grown up believing that if you work hard, you will get everything that you want. With poker, this isn’t necessarily the case. Yes work hard, put effort into your game and becoming a better player. But work smart, don’t push yourself to exhaustion. If your body and mind doesn’t want to be playing poker, don’t play. You will start getting bored, agitated and frustrated. Which we all know, leads to tilt.
4) Be aware of your emotions. If you are a winning player you must be able to tell when your on a total blowup and are spewing money, then stop. Great players are in tune with there emotions and understand what things effect there mental stability and how there playing. Prevention isnt as good as a cure, but some people will never cure tilt. When you feel yourself getting agitated, give yourself a chance to realise these emotions and correct them. If you feel yourself unable to adjust your mental state/emotions back to a level where your acting objectively, quit.
5) Avoid caffeine and foods high in sugar. Caffeine and sugars provide a spike and crash to your blood sugar level and central nervous system. They take you from a state of being over energised (which may make you more aggressive and tilt) to being under energized which may make you agitated and irritable.
6) Exercise before or between sessions. I’m not really sure how this works but I always feel happier after workouts. I think exercise releases endorphins, which are the happy hormone. Its common sense that if you are in a happy mood, you are less likely to become angry as a result of the swings you face on a daily basis.
7) Live a balanced life. I have talked to alot of pros and its a common consensus that most peoples best months are not when they are grinding insane volume of hands, its when other things in life excite them. In order to beat poker, you have to BE poker. This is true. But once you are already beating the game for a good winrate, avoiding burnout and having a happy life are much more important in a) sustaining good results b) avoiding burnout.
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