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Tilt, What is It?

Jul 16, 2008
To be honest, tilt happens to everyone in poker and there is no way around it. In poker, it's safe to say that tilt is one of the most feared words - and concepts, in fact. What is tilt caused by? Understand, there is no one cause: It's as different as there are different players. It is continuously being unlucky when your opponents hit their miracle two and three-outers on the river; for some, it's a bad run of cards. Or, it's an extended period of time playing poorly.

Once most players do finally go on tilt, the fact remains that all bets are off and their games suffer, no matter the cause. In the wrong situations or at the wrong times, they end up playing the wrong cards and losing a lot of chips. Some players find themselves belly-up to the table, caught in a vortex, a whirlpool that just keeps sucking them down. It's a vicious cycle, when Lady Luck deserts you, and it feeds on itself and the player. It erodes their confidence along with their bankrolls!

It's one thing to know what causes tilt, but what tilt is is the bigger question.I think it is the fear of being hunted. We are not being chased after by animals, but instead we're being hunted down by other players, who are looking to gun us down with another bad beat.

Your whole chemistry changes when you're overwhelmed by that primal emotion. It kicks you into a different mindset, changing your whole game. You have to be able to separate yourself from that emotion, that's the key to maintaining the frame of mind to avoid going on tilt. Control is the key, corralling your primal instinct, reigning it in so that you can continue to ride it out -- Lady Luck, that is. Be intelligent! Be in the game. Forget the shot-term results at the poker table, the short sprints of luck and you'll play smart in the long-rung and you'll come up a winner.

You must train yourself to believe, at least over a short period of time, that both winning and losing at the poker table have the same meaning in order to achieve this. Because the point of the game is to always win, this may seem counter intuitive at first. Losing is a part of the game, and you have to accept the fact that you can't win every hand.

How you approach a coin flip situation should be looked at. You don't want to risk losing what you've already won (and possibly more) so you're going to be more hesitant if you're winning at the time you're faced with a coin flip. On the other hand, you're probably going to be more willing to take the risk and go for the coin flip if you're presented with the same situation when you're losing, because you want to win your money back. Because in either situation you're more worried about the short-term outcome, rather than about playing solid poker over the long term, which is what being a winning player is really all about. I think both cases are detrimental to your game, either way.

You have to focus; focus simply on the game. Forget about winning or losing. When you focus on the game, you never have to worry about going on tilt as you've surrendered yourself to the one true goal: playing good poker. At the end of the day, all that matters is playing well. Let the cards fall as they may since as poker players, we can do nothing more than to play our best game. Your long-term results, no matter what kind of variance you face over the short term, will take a turn for the better when you adopt this attitude.

Thank you and I wish you good luck at the tables.
Scott
About the Author
I have played many hours of Hold Em online and live and have studied various pro games. I have compiled a mini e-course, totally free, that I hope will improve your game and bankroll. This free course can be accessed at: http://hstrial-pokerbook.homestead.com/indexpoker.html Thanks, Scott
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