Tilt Control

Marcus Bateman RSS / Marcus Bateman / 30 July 2008 / Leave a Comment

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140 Marcus Bateman

Tilt is the single hardest thing to deal with when playing poker.

Even the very best professionals lapse into it occasionally, and its effects can be devastating. No matter how detached you try and keep yourself from the money involved in poker, there will always be some feeling about winning and losing sums of money. Here I want to look at techniques that can be used to reduce tilt, and why it is so important to do so.

The first - and arguably most important - point about tilt is to stick to good bankroll management guidelines. Poker is a game of percentages in more ways than just the percentages of a given hand; losing two or three percent of your bankroll just feels much less damaging than thirty of forty percent. By only playing with relatively small percentages of your bankroll, the emotional attachment to losing money is significantly reduced.

The second point is to think about introducing stop losses to your game. Even the great Phil Ivey (and this is arguably one of the reasons he is so great) tends to quit after losing two buy ins when playing online cash games. By taking breaks after losses you will not allow your brain to venture into the nihilistic and reckless state that large scale gambling losses can produce. By introducing set figures to when you should quit, such as a specific number of buy ins, or big bets in limit games, you will be able to just quit a session early and avoid tilting hard.

Tilt avoidance is the number one factor that separates the best players from regular pros. Arguably the greatest player of his generation, Chip Reese, once commentated that he was glad to have lost three million dollars over a few weeks. When asked why he was proud of this he reportedly said: "Anyone else would have lost ten million". This point is also backed up by the great poker player Mike Caro's infamous comment "Money you don't lose buys just as many things as money you win".

In poker you will lose at points no matter how good you are. How you act in these situations is just as important as how you play any hand. Dealing with losses is of critical importance to successful poker playing - ignore it at your (and your bankrolls) peril.

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