Here’s a term you’d prefer not to know, but it’s something that happens to the best of us from time to time in our poker careers—being “on tilt.” What’s it mean? “Tilting” means letting your emotions disrupt your ability to play poker. Usually it happens in the middle of a bad streak, but it’s also possible to go on tilt when things are going good.
Since poker is a game that requires reasoning, any kind of disruption or impediment to the reasoning process is a threat to your play. Of course, it’s difficult to control your emotions all the time, but in poker it’s vital that you control them at the APPROPRIATE time. If you have a jack and a queen of spades and the flop comes up with an ace, queen and 10 of hearts and a LOT of betting action at the table, you need to know that it’s best to fold. A tilting player would be inclined to take down that pot, no matter how ill-advised that decision seems. Players on tilt keep chasing after disappearing dreams, and the more they chase, the worse their own situation quickly becomes.
In general, people who get upset and don’t stay focused and reasonable will lose all the money they brought to the table. Don’t go down that road.
Poker can seem inhuman in the way in triggers emotions but rewards people who are made of stone; it doesn’t seem fair. We don’t mean mean to scare you or to imply that all poker players are unemotional stones, but it’s imperative to stay focused and rational while at the table. Generally, most players tilt due to a bad defeat or if they can’t seem to win a single hand. Some players tilt after a big win or two, but these episodes generally are much shorter than tilts caused by losing.
Our advice for tilting? Recognize when you’re doing it! That’s the most important step. Once you recognize that you’re letting your emotions control your game, you can make the wise decision to sit out a game or two, think happy thoughts, have a drink, or do whatever it takes to regain your composure. In online poker, it’s better not to curse and punch your computer: the damage you inflict will only make you angrier in the end. Remember the Kenny Rogers song: “Walk away from trouble if you can.” Cheesy but true.