Poker is a great game mixing both skill and chance, but it’s the latter that can be the main culprit causing frustration among the majority of players.
It happens to the best of us, one minute you’re on a winning streak and loving the direction of the game, the next you’re hitting loss after loss, becoming more and more frustrated. It’s only natural, especially when you know that you’re so much better than the competition.
Some are better than others at keeping their cool, playing to their strengths and minimizing the impact that the stress of the game can have. Others completely lose all sense and throw away all chances of a win inside just a few minutes.
If you’ve got the tendencies of one of the shorter-tempered players, it’s probably in your best interest to come up with a strategy to control and prevent tilt.
Luckily, you’re in the right place and we’ve got 10 strategies/tips to make sure you can control and prevent even the worst cases of tilt when it happens to strike.
1. Set yourself up for success
Your mindset is everything when making your way to the tables so it pays to have everything in order to make sure that you’re in the best position possible.
We’re talking about getting enough sleep, making sure that you’re getting a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner in before playing and making sure that you’re comfortable during is vital, whether you’re playing online or in person. It’s vital to get yourself set up for success. For example, as this article points out, if you’re not comfortable with large crowds but love games, set yourself for success and only gamble online.
After all, if the alternative is failure, it’s a no-brainer.
2. Only play when you’re in the mood
You can make sure that you’re eating well, getting showered and optimizing your routine, but sometimes you’re just really not in the mood to play poker.
That’s both okay and a sign that you should sit this one out, nothing good ever comes from forcing yourself to do something that you really don’t want to.
The smart money is on not wagering at all.
3. Time limit your sessions
If you find yourself often losing hours at a time at the table with tilt occurring towards the end, it might be a good idea to enforce a time limit on your play.
If you notice a common time that you find tilt occurring, add your limit just shy of your threshold and go from there. There’s no sense in going over your allocated time, especially if there’s very little to gain.
Set a time limit, but more importantly, stick to it.
4. Implement a bankroll management strategy
Using a bankroll management strategy is a great way to ensure that you’re looking after your wallet as well as your mental state when playing the game.
Adrian Sireca, of OnlineCasinoGems, states: “Using some form of bankroll management strategy is key for all forms of gambling. It just acts as a personal safety net to make sure everything remains fun and doesn’t get away from the players”.
By managing funds, you can be sure that you’re never betting more than you wanted – important when playing poker!
5. Expect the downsizings
It goes without saying that you’re not going to win every single hand and that downsizing should be expected when playing the game.
But this is one of the main factors that trigger tilt, even if it is a part of just about everyone’s game. But by understanding that the downsizings are just a part of the game and to take the rough with the smooth, players can keep their cool and not sweat the small stuff.
Downsizings may come, but with clever, strong poker play – they can be built back up in no time at all.
6. Understand when you’re on tilt
If you do happen to go on tilt, it’s vital that you can recognize it and prevent it as soon as possible.
By understanding the behavior associated with tilt (reckless betting, lack of care, a desperation to win another pot, etc.) you are much more likely to be able to neutralize it quickly.
Look out for the signs and employ any calming strategy to get yourself back on track and limit the damage done.
7. Avoid getting emotional
Once you start getting emotions involved, there’s nothing left for you at the table.
If you find yourself starting to feel stressed, angry or upset about the game, it’s time to take a second to get yourself in check. By telling yourself that these emotions won’t help your game, you may be able to calm yourself back down and get back into the swing of things.
It can be tricky, but if you can avoid becoming emotional, you will play much better. After all, it’s only a game and when looking at the pros (such as Doyle Brunson, great bio here) we rarely see emotional displays.
8. Employ breathing techniques
Breathing techniques are some of the most used calming techniques in all aspects of life, so it makes sense that they’ve got a place in preventing tilt in poker.
Taking several deep breaths and focusing on your breathing during a game can work wonders for calming tilt and putting a stop to any emotional play and rash decisions. We’re not talking about full-on yoga techniques here, just a few deep breaths.
You don’t want to attract too much attention to yourself, you might end up as a bit of a sitting duck if you’re caught on tilt.
9. Know that you’re doing the right thing
If you’ve done your homework, studied the game and are simply getting beaten in some hands with luck, it’s important to remember that you are doing the right thing.
Even if your mind is starting to tell you other things and you’ve been fooled by the odd bluff (love this article with the sickest bluffs out there!), if you’re doing the right thing, it will eventually pay off. All the studying, experience and skill will pay off eventually, even if it does take a little time.
10. Take a break
Last but not least, it’s a great idea to take a break once you feel yourself starting to go on tilt.
By walking away from the table and giving yourself a break from the game, you’ll calm down, freshen up your mindset and be much better for it.
Even if you’re down on your bankroll, taking a break is usually the best thing for it!