The Tilt


The subject of our previous article was the bankroll management. To this subject the theme of Tilt and the defense against it is closely related. What is the Tilt?

The Tilt is when an unforeseen event causes the player to play significantly different from his usual play, and he starts to play badly, and obsessively, and throws away his chips. The Tilt is the worst enemy of beginner poker players. And it has a very negative impact on a players result. The proper handling of the Tilt can be the difference between winning and loosing players.

There are many players, who can make a decent profit with their usual play, but are unprotected against the Tilt, and under the influence of it, they are throwing away all their profit, so just break even is the best they can bring out of the game. Imagine that we are playing NL50, and our average result is 5BB/100, which is a pretty fair result on this stake, but we have a tendency to Tilt. And under the influence of a very short term Tilt, we loose a buy-in, which means 50$ minus. It looks not so horrible, with so good results. But just think about this, we are going to play the next 1000 hands, in order to win back the loss, which was resulted from our little fault. But during these 1000 hands, the same thing can happen anytime, and the whole thing starts again. This way it is hard to make a decent profit. Even among the best players in the world, there are some, who can’t deal with the Tilt properly. One of the most successful players in the world, Phil Hellmuth, is a good example for that, who can’t handle, when he’s beaten. Do not fall in the same trap.

poker tilt

Like I said, the Tilt is the greatest threat to beginner players, who find it difficult to understand, and tolerate, that sometimes they have to book a day in a minus. Imagine someone, who is playing 10$ buy-in Heads Up SnG, and he loses two buy-in and goes on Tilt (although it is not so surprising, in the case of HU SnGs, we have to book a much bigger downswings, too). And, instead of stop playing, our Hero decides to win back this money in this state of mind, so he buys into a 20$ SnG, and he loses it, too. And this continues until he loses his entire bankroll, or wins back his money. But if he wins back his money, he just bought himself another day, because with this kind of mentality, he will surely loose all his money.

Now let’s see what kind of events can distract your game and put you on Tilt:

  • Your opponent has one out, which comes on the river.
  • You fall out from a 4th SnG in a row as a bubble.
  • You loose many HU SnGs in a row.
  • You are being bluffed out from an important hand, and your opponent shows his bluff.
  • You are loosing the 10th coin flip in a row.
  • You loose third time with a big pocket pair against a smaller one.
  • And many other similarly frustrating situations may arise during the game.

When such situations arise, it is very important to notice the threat of going on Tilt. There may be some events that have so serious impact on our game, that we have to stop the game immediately, at least for a short period of time, or even for the whole day, of course if you are at the middle of a tourney, it is a bit of a problem to do, there you have to keep playing. Here, the best you can do is to take a deep breath, put your bad thoughts away, and keep playing more carefully. At this situations maybe you should take back a little bit, play a bit less hands, and fold the problematic and tricky ones.

If a situation arises that you are in the middle of a bad beat, your account is down a little bit and there’s the threat of Tilt too, but you still would like keep playing (which is not the wisest decision), the best you can do, is to move down one limit, and play in smaller games. This could be very useful, because on smaller stakes the downswings don’t hurt you so much and the players are less skilled, so it’s easier to win there. But there’s one thing you should never do: increase the stakes.

Increasing the limit without having the required bankroll is a huge mistake itself, but doing this under the influence of Tilt is the surest way to break down. So whatever happens, never think about moving up a limit in order to win back your losses of that day. So repress these thoughts immediately, otherwise you are going to face serious consequences.

I hope this article helped you to realize, how important the good Tilt handling is. Your most efficient weapon against the Tilt will be the strict bankroll management, because if you don’t play on too high stakes, then the downswings won’t hurt you so, and a longer bad beat series won’t affect you so negatively, that would ruin your game.