Tackling Tilt

By | March 17, 2014


Last time we looked at tilt. What tilt is, what causes it and what the consequences can be. This time, how to deal with tilt.

A Ten Point Plan

Let’s start with a note of realism. Dealing with  tilt is difficult. Many otherwise great players never manage it, and sizeable bankrolls (and great careers) have been ruined as a result. But if you work on it, you can tackle tilt. Here is the plan which we outline in Omaha 8 or Better: Winning at Hi Low Poker

  • When you are on a downswing, or running bad, then reduce the number of tables you play on. My personal rule is to play on a maximum of two tables rather than multi tabling. I also turn off the TV or other distractions. This can seem dull if you are used to multi tabling but it enables you to focus fully on the play around you. You should also be able to play at higher stakes with your increased concentration.
  • I recommend playing one to one and a half hour sessions and then take a break to analyse hands and refresh yourself. This keeps concentration going. Be disciplined with your time keeping and make sure you’re in the right mind set before playing.
  • When playing full ring, keep it tight up front pre flop and save borderline hands for late position, where you can get in cheaply.  This reduces the number of difficult positions you will find yourself in. Personally, I’m particularly careful early in the session, when I take time out to observe the opponents and get a feel for the game. The equity you surrender by doing so is minimal and this helps avoid difficult decisions which could cause tilt.
  • Try to respect opponents’ strength until you have reason to believe otherwise (e.g. if they are highly aggressive or even a maniac).
  • When in a multi way pot, be selective about betting (you should be looking for a strong hand, or good position and the right board to bet on).
  • If you do take a horrible beat, promise yourself a consolation prize later in the evening. A double whisky usually does the trick for me.
  • Set a stop loss (for example 25 big bets at limit poker) and close the table if you exceed this. If you still feel the need for some poker, play a low stakes fun game like Razz or a small turbo sit’n’go. In extreme circumstances, if you really have problems you could consider self banning yourself from your online site for a defined period of time e.g. 24 hours.
  • Try not to chase profits: Rather, focus on playing well. Try to analyse each session afterwards and rate how well you’ve played. This should not be connected to the profit or loss you make.
  • Analyse specific hand afterwards using your HUD and note the things you’ve done well and the improvement points.
  • Finally, understand and accept that losing sessions are the ones you learn the most from: They force you to question and re-evaluate your play and therefore are a key means of improving (which must be your overall goal).

On a non-poker basis, basic Zen techniques are a useful way or maintaining balance and equilibrium, both for poker and life. One of the great texts is Robert Persig’s 1974 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which still has a lot to say nearly forty years on.

You may have your own approach. We are all different and it’s important you find something which works for you. Above all else though, the key thing is not to be upset by losing sessions. They happen. Get used to it!

Another key to managing tilt is good bankroll management. Bankroll management helps reduce the risk of going broke (the ‘risk of ruin’) and should also enable you to deal much easier with losses, because they are a much less significant slice of your bankroll. We’ll consider this next.

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Andy 'IggyPop77' Mack

About Andy 'IggyPop77' Mack

Andy's first love was chess. Three times a competitor in the British Championships, he has played regularly at international level, achieving the rank of FIDE Master. On a fateful day in 2007 Andy visited Las Vegas for the first time. Since that point, his attention has switched from chess to poker. Initially focusing on Hold'em, Andy has branched out, and has been working hard over the past couple of years to perfect his Omaha 8 game. He also plays all the other variants of the 8 Game. Away from poker, Andy's hero is rock star Iggy Pop. Andy claims to love Iggy's wild man image, although even his best friends would find it hard to compare Andy's solid poker style with that of the Godfather of Punk.

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