Poker players tilt in many different ways. Some spew off chips like there is no tomorrow, while others bury their heads in the sand and play a passive, non-profitable style. Whatever you do when you go on tilt it costs you money. The immediate cost may not be evident at the time, but tilt will erode your bankroll eventually and leave you high and dry.
The majority of poker players can take a number of easy steps that should keep the tilt beast under wraps and their bankrolls and sanity intact.
For most people I would say it is impossible to eradicate tilt completely. However, I do think the majority of poker players can take a number of easy steps that should keep the tilt beast under wraps and their bankrolls and sanity intact.
Play within your bankroll
As the word "bankroll" has already been mention twice already I thought it would be best to touch on bankroll management as the first tip. A lack of skill aside, poor bankroll management is the number one reason a poker player goes broke and while they are broke they cannot play poker. This is bad.
Regardless of what stakes you play for and regardless of whether you specialise in cash games or tournament poker, you need to perform good bankroll management. This means playing with only a small percentage of your bankroll at any one time so when you inevitably lose, that loss does not take you out of the game.
There is plenty of information out there on bankroll management, though you should tailor it to your own circumstances. Personally, I prefer to have a large bankroll compared to the stakes I play. Having a large cushion helps me to deal with the swings poker variance throws at me. For example, I am currently in the middle of a 65 buy-in downswing in the MTTSNG I play but I have 650 buy-ins at my disposal, so going broke is not in the back of my mind and allows me to stay relatively tilt less.
Play against those players who you have an edge over
There is no place for ego at the poker table. Sometimes you just have to admit there are players better than you and you should usually avoid these players. There is no point being the sixth best poker player in the world if you are going to sit down with the top 5. You will lose and poker is stressful and not fun when you lose.
For the most part you should play in games where you have a clear and defined edge that you can press home because this is where you will make the most money from. This is not to say never play in tough games, far from it because playing against great players will improve your own game no end, but for a less stressful time at the felt make sure you are surrounded with as many weak players as possible.
Cut out distractions
I play poker from my living room, on my laptop with the TV blaring out. This is bad and over the course of the past two or three months has probably resulted in me misclicking two dozen times or rushing scores of decisions due to not following the action properly.
It is so easy to sit playing several tables at once and browse the internet etc at the same time. When you are playing poker just focus on playing poker. If you have to, have a machine that is only used for poker and has nothing else installed on it.
The better you can concentrate on poker the less likely you are to make mistakes, and the fewer mistakes you make the less likely you are to tilt.
Understand that without bad luck the game would not be profitable
All too often I hear players cursing their luck and how online poker sites reward bad play. That last part does not happen, but it does sometimes seem that way when Fishy McFishison calls your all-in with just a gutshot and smashes your set to pieces on the bubble for the 25th time this week!
When you have to endure a bad beat just think to yourself that if it was not for the bad players getting lucky from time to time they would go broke and leave the game. Once all the bad players have gone, you will be left with solid winning players and that is not going to be a profitable situation that you find yourself in, is it?
Stop checking your PokerTracker / Balances
This is one area that I am still a major fish! I have to know how much I am up or down in a session, I just have to know.
The problem with continually checking your figures is these figures mean next to nothing in the short-term but can still have a huge effect on your game. Should you check your figures and discover you are 15 buy-ins to the good then you may take less than optimal lines in order to preserve your profit. On the flipside of the coin, if you find yourself in a hole then you may start taking risks in order to reduce your losses. Neither scenario is favourable to a poker player.
If you are playing in games that are profitable and are within your bankroll, are not cursing your luck and are concentrating on the task in hand then you shouldn't have time to check your balance or your PokerTracker stats anyway.
Good luck at the felt!