If tilt were a living, breathing entity it would be much like the dreaded Angler Fish. You know the one. That really ugly one from Finding Nemo that has a light hanging in front of its face to attract its prey.
The first thing you need to do is find out what sort of tilter you are. Do not believe anyone who says they do not tilt. They are lying. Everyone does it in some way, shape or form.
Tilt is extremely dangerous to your bankroll -- and possibly your sanity -- and finding techniques to keep the monster under wraps, or at least keeping away from its dangling enticing light can be the difference between you being a winning player and a losing one.
The first thing you need to do is find out what sort of tilter you are. Do not believe anyone who says they do not tilt. They are lying. Everyone does it in some way, shape or form. Some go on full-blown monkey tilt and spew stacks of chips off as if they are going out of fashion. Others get mad when they see others win. Me? I chop and change my game of choice, and sometimes the site where I am plying my trade.
Over the past 12 months, I have put a lot of effort into not tilting and my results have improved dramatically. I learned how to spot the signs I was about to tilt and then formatted techniques that I employ to keep old lightbulb-head at bay and in the shadows.
Tilt prevention techniques
The first of my own personal techniques is to review sessions that I have played and try to look for spots where I could have played hands differently. I will look over my biggest winning hands, and of course I check the biggest losing hands too, but I also review hands where I put money in the pot regardless of the size of the eventual pot so that I can see if I left money at the table or not. Doing this allows you to scrutinise your play (and that of your opponents) and you will be surprised how uplifted you will feel when you realise that you only lost a hand because villain is a big fat fish, or that you actually got lucky to win a stack of chips.
This leads onto my second technique where I appreciate that although I get sucked out on plenty of times and I run into the top of opponents' ranges with what seems an unfair regularity, I do actually get very lucky myself sometimes. Poker players like to put losing down to luck and then think they win because of their superior skill. Realising that this is not always the truth helps you to keep a level head at the felt and soak up bad beats and losses with ease.
Slave To Variance
Another way to keep your cool is to learn about the variance involved in your game of choice so you know what to expect. I started to moan to all that would listen - and those who wouldn't - about my downswing this month, where I lost eight buy-ins (in cash games) over the course of 3,500 hands. I moaned despite knowing that my losses were well within the realms of normality and even though I play from a 50-100 buy-in bankroll so eight stacks is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Finding what works for you is vital because, as they say, one man's wine is another's poison. For me the three "R's" seem to do the job:
Review: Review your play and that of your opponents.
Realise: Realise that there is a tremendous amount of luck involved in poker and not all of the bad luck heads in your direction. Reviewing hands helps this.
Research: Research your game of choice so you know what to fully expect and what is deemed "normal."
There are other "R's" that you can throw into the mx such as, Reassure, Reaffirm, Reflect but I am sure you will find your own techniques that work best for you and your way of thinking.