I frequently hear comments like, “I don’t need mental coaching, because I don’t tilt.” Wrong. Working on your mental game covers a wide range of topics, including goal setting which I discussed here last week. But there’s no question that tilt is still the most common problem that I see in the poker world.
Tilt is often referred to when poker players lose control of their emotions and make terrible mistakes. Or when players stand up from a table, and you can almost literally see the steam blow out of their ears. That’s when other players say “they’re on tilt”.
However, the misconception is that tilt is always an extreme emotion that overwhelms you for a short period of time. In fact, tilt comes in many different shapes and sizes and it could also be subtle, maybe even so subtle you don’t consciously notice it. Plus, this subtle tilt can lay seething in the back of your mind affecting not just one decision, but many decisions over the course of days or even weeks.
I cover this topic in detail, as well as other keys to tournament success, in my new video course, and am going to give you some highlights on identifying and managing tilt now.
Use the code: PokerNews to get $50 off Jared Tendler’s Mental Game Tune Up for Tournament Poker training course.
Seven Types of Tilt
There are many emotions that can cause you to make poor decisions, but when poker players talk about tilt, the vast majority of the time they’re referring to making mistakes because of anger.
The following list briefly describes the most common types of tilt:
- Running Bad Tilt: The tilt that’s caused by a run of bad cards is not actually a unique type of tilt. Instead, one (or more) of the other types of tilt happens so frequently in such a short amount of time that your mind can’t reset itself before the next time you play. As a result, tilt builds up and hangs over your head like a dark cloud.
- Injustice Tilt: Bad beats, coolers, and suck-outs are prime examples of triggers that make you feel cursed and make poker feel unfair.
- Hate-losing Tilt:Many players hate losing even though they realize how much variance impacts results in the short run. Wanting to win is not the problem — the problem is how you handle the inevitable losses.
- Mistake Tilt: Making mistakes is frustrating for many logical reasons; these reasons just happen to be flawed because of inaccurate views about learning.
- Entitlement Tilt: Classic Phil Hellmuth tilt is caused by believing that you deserve to win for X, Y, or Z reason. Winning is a possession and you tilt when someone undeserving takes it from you.
- Revenge Tilt: Disrespect, constant aggressive action, and opponents thinking they’re better than you are just a few of the reasons why you seek vengeance at the table.
- Desperation Tilt: The urge to win your money back and get unstuck is so strong, it makes you play monster sessions, force the action, and jump up in stakes.
Do you recognize yourself in any of those descriptions? Read on for more information on how to fix your problem with tilt.
Correcting the Root of Your Tilt Problem
One of the hardest parts of working on your Mental Game is when you are aware of your problem but can’t stop it. You know you shouldn’t be pissed off by a bad beat, loosen up preflop to make up for a mistake, or play back at an opponent who bluffed you off a big hand – and yet you can’t stop yourself.
Awareness alone does not lead to an ability to correct your mental game problems. That’s because tilt is not the real problem. Tilt, or anger, is just a symptom. Anger in poker is caused by underlying flaws, biases, illusions that operate in the back of your mind and they are the real problem. Like a weed that continues to grow back if you don’t get the roots out, you have to correct the roots of your anger.
My tool for getting to the root of your tilt is called “The Mental Hand History” (MHH). I talked about the MHH in my book The Mental Game of Poker, but I didn’t make it front and center like I should have. And as a result, some of you missed the critical connection between using this tool and getting to your root issue. Instead, you focused more on trying to control tilt rather than actually resolving it. Control is not a solution, it’s a bandaid that can (and often does) break. You want to get to the point where tilt is gone. And yes, that is possible.
The last thing you want is for tilt to affect your decision-making in critical moments at the WSOP. It’s hard to get into a big spot where you could make a final table or win your first bracelet. You don’t want to be the reason you fail.
The MHH, which is downloadable for free on my website, is how you can prevent that from happening. It dissects your tilt and identifies the real problem that you’re battling. Then you can devise a real-time strategy that can actually correct tilt before it strikes. Once you do that, you can quickly reset yourself and get back to playing well. No short-cuts here. It’s going to take some work to get there. But I have hundreds of clients who have used it successfully.
Stopping tilt after it’s been triggered is too late. Anger is powerful and it has the power to shut down your ability to think and make well-reasoned decisions. If you can’t take steps to curb the effect of tilt, before it becomes a big problem, then you’re gambling with your tournament life. A poker tournament is hard enough to win when you’ve got a field of skilled players to battle, but it’s even harder when the toughest opponent is your own emotional reactions.
The Mental Game Tune-Up
I’d love to coach each and every one of you leading up to the WSOP, but it’s just not practical. With that in mind, I created my first-ever video course to help as many of you as possible prepare to be at your best for tournament play.
In the course you dive into the following key areas:
Looking for more? With my recent video course I have an entire module dedicated to solving tilt problems. It includes tightening your strategy, creating a tilt profile, and developing real-time strategy solutions.
- Set Your Goals
- Know Your Game
- Control Tilt and Other Emotions
- Avoid Burnout
- Get Into the Zone
- Thrive Under Pressure
- Maintain Focus at the Table
- Train Your Decision-Making Process
These modules are based on my experience with clients preparing for big events and actually include recorded coaching sessions with accomplished professionals Matt Affleck and Diego Ventura.
You’ll get 13 hours of video content for less than a buy-in at the WSOP. You can find more information here on my website. Use the code PokerNews to save $50.
Best of luck at the tables!