Tilt in poker is something that every player has to deal with at least several times during their gambling career. It’s something that can’t escape, which means you have to face it.
But how do you prepare for a tilt in poker or minimize the chances of it happening to you?
If you want to find out, you’ve come to the right place! This article will give you all the answers you need and show you how to use tilt in poker to your advantage!
What is Tilt in Poker?
Tilt in poker is a slang term that describes a situation in which a player gets frustrated and makes bad decisions based on their feelings—not observations and game sense. The most common tilt symptoms are bluffing too much and playing hands you shouldn’t.
You should remember that everyone tilts, whether they’re a veteran or a new player. But, one thing that separates a good player from a bad player is their ability to handle tilt and frustration. To do so, you must learn your triggers and resort to strategies that can help you avoid tilting.
Numerous events can trigger a player and make them tilt, but we’ll go over them a bit later in the article.
Why is Tilt Dangerous?
The term “tilt” itself doesn’t come from poker—it comes from pinball. It illustrates the moment when you hit or shake the pinball machine to guide the ball into the desired split or prevent it from falling into the gap.
But, if you tilt the pinball machine too much, a sign lights up and the game is immediately over. The same goes for poker, except there’s no tilt sign that lights up. When a player gets too emotionally frustrated or tilted, they often won’t be able to play well at all.
A tilted player usually won’t be able to calm themselves down—they’ll make bad calls and bets and generally play with a handicap. When playing like this, you are bound to spiral into a bad streak and lose huge amounts of money, which is why tilt is incredibly dangerous.
Understanding 8 Different Types of Tilt
There are numerous types of tilt you can face in your poker career. To help you avoid them easily, we’ll help you get familiar with the most common ones, such as mistake tilt, victim’s tilt, revenge tilt, and similar.
#1. Mistake Tilt
If you get angry or bothered easily after making a mistake—such as a bad call on the flop—you’re likely to become a victim of mistake tilt. This type of tilt primarily exists because players have unrealistic assumptions about the learning process of poker.
You have to keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes—even the pros—and that poker is a game with a high learning curve. Without making any mistakes, you wouldn’t have anything to learn from.
Most importantly, dwelling on mistakes you’ve made in previous hands is always a worse idea than focusing on the present. You’ll only end up being frustrated instead of being confident and focused on the game ahead.
#2. Victim’s Tilt
One of the most common types of tilt is the victim’s tilt, and all of us have been susceptible to it at least once during our poker careers. It refers to a situation in which you lose several hands in a row or face a bad beat, for example, which causes you to fall into a victim mentality.
Victim mentality is thinking that you’re the unluckiest person in the whole world and that you can’t seem to catch a break. In reality, you fall into a victim mentality because you can’t accept that the odds sometimes have to be against you and that, perhaps, you’ve made a mistake.
#3. Entitlement Tilt
Many players suffer from entitlement tilt, but most of them are afraid to admit it.
Thinking that you deserve to win more than other players at the table, getting frustrated when a fish beats you, and lecturing others about their mistakes—all these represent common symptoms of entitlement.
Entitled players think that they’re better than the rest and get incredibly angry when they lose, which results in a huge tilt. This is usually the symptom of a big ego and the inability to keep yourself grounded and focus on the game.
#4. Revenge Tilt
Revenge tilt can cost you a fortune if you are unaware of it. The most common symptom of it includes losing against a specific opponent over and over again and blaming it all on luck.
When this happens, players will often seek revenge against the player who keeps beating them. They will make unnecessarily big bets and try to ramp up the pot, only to face losses and get even more frustrated.
If you catch yourself making a nemesis out of a certain player at the table, you’re likely facing a revenge tilt, and your best bet would be to catch a break.
#5. Loser’s Tilt
Loser’s tilt is generally common in highly competitive players who hate losing. Their biggest problem is that they are terrible at handling losses, which is why they face a loser’s tilt and get frustrated all the time.
Let’s make one thing clear here: no one likes losing, especially if it’s a big pot in question. But, if you are incapable of handling small losses and you tend to react badly after every hand you lose, you might be a victim of loser’s tilt.
This type of tilt is highly destructive and bad for the player, as it only leads them to face more financial losses.
#6. Winner’s Tilt
As ridiculous as it might sound, you can also become a victim of a tilt caused by positive emotions.
This usually happens when a player goes on a great streak and starts thinking they can beat everyone. The player gets overconfident and starts playing irrationally, which usually leads them to lose everything.
The tricky part about the winner’s tilt is that you never know when your great streak will end. That’s why you must always keep in mind that you can lose every hand and try to play as rationally as possible.
#7. Dissociation Tilt
Dissociation, also known as distraction tilt, is a type of tilt that refers to situations in which a player’s focus drifts away from the table. These distractions include anything—from mobile devices and social media to other people at the casino.
Playing on autopilot without focusing on the game can only do you wrong and lead you to lose money. So, when you catch yourself falling victim to a distraction tilt, put your phone away or catch a breath from the game, and try to regain your concentration.
#8. Desperation Tilt
Last but not least, desperation tilt is by far the worst type of tilt. It is a combination of several types and happens when players start taking extreme measures to win.
For example, when a player who can’t handle their losses goes on a severely bad streak against a specific player, they’ll do anything to win again. As a result, they’ll bust their bankroll trying to do so while calling with bad hands, betting too much, etc.
Desperation tilt is usually a symptom of burnout and a sign that a player should take a bigger break from the game or even seek professional help.
10 Proven Ways to Avoid Tilt in Poker
Now that you know all about the different types of tilt, we’ll show you 10 proven ways to avoid them all and become a better player!
#1. Don’t Bring Your Problems to the Poker Table
Whether you’re dealing with relationship issues, having troubles at home, or facing any other problems, you shouldn’t bring them to the poker table.
Whatever might be troubling you outside the casino, you need to remember that you can’t fix it during the poker game. Dwelling on your problems while holding the cards in your hand won’t solve them, so you’re better off focusing on the game.
At the end of the day, if you think you’re too stressed to play, consider skipping the planned poker session.
#2. Leave Your Emotions at the Door
If you want to avoid tilting in poker, you need to leave your emotions at the door before you start playing.
Of course, like everything in life, this is easier said than done. That’s why you need to keep telling yourself that:
Poker is not a game about emotions but about decision-makingYou won’t gain anything by getting angry at others or yourselfEven the best players sometimes lose and face bad beatsYou can’t stay focused on past hands if you want to win
#3. Have a Stop-Loss Strategy
A stop-loss is a strategy that limits your losses by preventing you from betting after a certain number of losses.
For example, not letting yourself bet again after losing three times in a row and sensing that a tilt is right around the corner would be a good stop-loss strategy. So, instead of trying to break even after losing several hands, pass a hand or two and then get back into the game.
A solid stop-loss strategy requires loads of discipline. Still, when mastered, it will give you the ability to recognize tilt triggers and stop playing immediately without going over your budget.
#4. Learn the Game Better
As mentioned previously, poker is a game with a high learning curve. But, if you put a lot of time and effort into learning the ins and outs of the game, you will minimize your chances of facing tilt.
You should learn all about the different angles, stack and pot sizes, pot odds, betting patterns, different playstyles, etc. The more you analyze the cards on the table and in your hand, and the more time you spend strategizing, the less time you’ll have to get frustrated.
#5. Learn Your Gameplay Patterns
Other than learning the game itself, another thing you can do to minimize your chances of facing tilt is to learn your gameplay patterns. Everyone has a strategy in poker, whether they’re conscious of it or not.
You should review your previously played hands, go over your bets, think about your decision-making, and write it all down. Once you have it all on paper, you’ll realize that, for example, some victim tilts were your mistakes.
Lastly, by doing this, you will start paying more attention to your gameplay rather than the external factors that make you tilt.
#6. Take Care of Yourself
Taking proper care of yourself is often an overlooked way of dealing with tilt. Most players get caught up in the game so much that they forget to sleep well, eat enough, and exercise.
Dealing with tilt is much easier with a full stomach and a good night’s sleep. When you’re hungry or sleepy, everything will become annoying—not only things at the poker table.
You should also exercise a bit every day if you plan on playing seriously because your mind won’t be able to function properly when your body is sitting at the table all day long.
#7. Understand What Makes You Tilt in Poker
Let’s say that you know that you usually fall victim to the victim’s tilt (pun intended). If so, the moment you sense that you’re making a nemesis of someone at the table, you should congratulate them on a good hand or even chit-chat a bit.
By doing this, you’ll realize that they’re also human and that they don’t have anything against you.
So, go over the previously listed types of tilt in the article, find yours, and understand exactly what makes you tilt. After all, it’s always better to be proactive than reactive.
#8. Take Frequent Breaks
Another way of being proactive against tilting in poker is to take frequent breaks. As an average poker game can last anywhere from 3 to 12 hours, you should make a rule that you must take a small break every hour or so.
If it’s allowed, leave the table for a bit, grab a bite or a drink, let the blood flow in your legs a bit, and take a breather. If you can’t leave the table, wait out for a couple of hands, zone out a bit, and then slowly get back into the game.
#9. Leave the Table if Necessary
Are you sensing that you can’t contain your frustration with someone at the table? Can’t seem to calm down after a bad beat or a few lost hands in a row? If so, not only should you catch a breath, but you should even leave the table if necessary.
Remember that it’s always better to leave the table than lose more money by spiraling into a tilt rabbit hole.
#10. Accept When Tilt Happens
At the end of the day, you must remember that tilts are bound to happen, no matter how much you prepare for them. And when they do, you should accept them as they are.
Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone gets frustrated at some point in their poker career—it’s simply a part of the game.
So, keep in mind that it’s not about whether you face a tilt or not—it’s about how you deal with it and whether you can accept it.
4 Ways to Use Tilt to Your Advantage
Tilt in poker doesn’t exist only to be avoided! You can also use it to your advantage if you:
#1. Carefully Observe Your Opponents
Symptoms of tilt usually include accelerated breathing, nervous legs, shaky hands, and similar. You should look for these clues in your opponents and use their tilted mental state to your advantage.
#2. Take Advantage of Weak Points in the Game
Once you pick up the clues and notice that a certain opponent is tilting, you will immediately be at an advantage. By knowing this, you can spot their bluffs easily and call them often, make big bets that you know they’ll call out of spite, and more.
Taking advantage of their weak points will make them even more frustrated, which means you’ll be able to win even more money.
#3. Try Bluffing if the Pot is Large
Let’s say that you know a certain opponent is tilting. In such cases, they will usually follow all the big bets you make. This is when you need to be as patient as possible, as it’s the time when you can score big.
Build up the pot slowly on the flop and the turn, and when the river cards are turned up, try bluffing big. The chances are that your tilted opponent will call on you, even with a bad hand. And if they realize that they’re tilted, they’ll just fold, and you’ll have the rest of the big pot.
#4. Fake Looking Tilted
The same way you will try to exploit your tilted opponents, so will they try to take advantage of you if they notice that you’re tilted. That’s why you should fake being frustrated and nervous, as they will try to make big bluffs, which you can follow without even having to read them.
Your opponents will call even the most stupid of bets when they think you’re tilted, so bet big with strong hands, and lure them into the fake tilt trap.
At the end of the day, you need to accept that you can’t escape tilt in poker, but you can prepare yourself for it.
Hopefully, this article has helped you minimize the impact tilt has on you and shown you some handy tips to help you avoid it, at least in certain situations. To sum it up:
Tilt in poker is a term that describes a situation in which a frustrated player gets emotional, thus making bad, irrational decisions and losing a bunch of money.The most common types of tilt are:Mistake tiltVictim’s tiltEntitlement tiltRevenge tiltLoser’s tiltWinner’s tiltDissociation tiltDesperation tiltTo lessen the chances of facing tilt, you can leave emotions out of your game, learn the game more, find out what triggers you, and take frequent breaks.You can also use tilt to your advantage by noticing your opponents are getting frustrated and calling their bluffs.