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Tilt Control - Get in Control of your Poker Tilt!

Tilt Control - Get in Control of your Poker Tilt! 0001

It's been quite a while since I last went on tilt, but the inevitable took place. I sat down at a 5-5 table at the Holland Casino in Rotterdam and was actually playing hyper-LAG. I compensated a little by raising 8-10x BB preflop to still get some folders. Most of the time you then end up heads-up and then I can still outplay my opponent or hit a miracle. If things then go wrong with your monster hands, which get called due to your table image, it's a downward slope from that point on.

Of course this is a scenario that occurs every now and then. It is a risk you consciously take, and you will have to learn to deal with the swings when playing like this. But that's not what I did this time. After losing a couple of times with the best hand, I didn't even get mad, I just didn't care anymore. Of course this is also a kind of tilt. I play poker as my profession and there's no room there for tilting. If I could approach everything in poker a bit more professionally, but tilt with other things that cost money, I'd be much more at peace with that. It was especially painful because I wanted to approach everything a bit more professionally that year, so this wasn't exactly a boost for my self-confidence.

The highlight of the night was calling an all-in against a very friendly gentleman with {5-Spades}{4-Clubs}. I didn't deserve the {2-Clubs}{3-Spades}{a-Hearts} flop against his {a-Diamonds}{k-Hearts}. I won a full buy-in pot with that hand, but it didn't make me any happier. Winning a hand like that doesn't really help in any way. I actually started to go even more on tilt after I won that hand. The only way that these kinds of pots can make you feel better is if you break even through such a hand, or maybe even make profit with it, but the times when that happens can be counted on one hand.

What actually creates this damn tilt feeling? In fact, it's just wallowing in self-pity. Boohoo, look at me, I'm losing a hand in which I was the favorite. I always get unlucky, I always lose this shit. Aces are killing me, I'm running worse than anybody else. These are some of the comments you can relate to players with the wrong poker mindset. I'm not saying that I have the perfect poker mindset, but in general I handle losing and bad beats pretty well. If things get out of hand I might get angry and frustrated, but I try not to let that turn into game-tilt. I do tilt in real life, i.e getting angry and slamming my fist on my keyboard. There is nothing wrong with getting angry every now and then, as long as you can keep playing your A-game.

If you get angry but you keep playing your A-game, you're not on tilt. Even if you start throwing glasses against the wall, if you keep on playing good and making decisions to the best of your ability, you're not on tilt. Your head might be, but game related there is no need for concern yet. What I tend to tell other players, especially beginners, is that the fact that there's a luck factor in the game is what enables you to win money in the first place. If poker was a pure skill game, there would be no money to be won in the game. Only for the very best who have a slight edge on the sub-toppers. And fish will most likely disappear completely. If you play chess against Kasparov and lose 20 times in a row, are you going to play him again? I don't think so. The fact that the fish wins one time with his 88 against your AA makes sure that he will be back at the table the next day. How many people think they have a trick to win at roulette? That is purely because they had one good run (usually during one of the first times they ever played). That is similar to the thought process of losing poker players. The fact that they at least have a CHANCE at winning is what makes them come back.

Keeping that in mind, how childish is it really to complain about a bad beat or an unlucky situation? You win ridiculous amounts of money playing a card game, and then you start complaining about the very reason that enables you to make that money in the first place. Be happy that the donkey calls with {a-Spades}{k-Clubs} on a {q-Hearts}{j-Spades}{4-Clubs} board. The fact that his {10-Hearts} hits is nothing more than variance. The short-term result is shit. The long-term result is a paid rent and new clothes. There is no point in wallowing in self-pity and complaining about the negative aspects of poker. The only thing you accomplish with that is that people will no longer want to discuss poker with you as all you do is complain.

Appreciate the fact that people throw their money in while being the underdog. Appreciate the fact that this happens with real money. These are not the most important situations in poker. You accomplished your mission. You got your money in with the best hand. Now you should start thinking about the situations that actually need improvement or where you were the one going all-in with the worst hand. You don't hear many people discussing those hands. "I called all-in and was drawing dead. What do you think of that hand?" I don't know about you guys, but I don't hear that question very often, unless it's from a real pro.

If you're not strong enough mentally to understand and apply what I've just been talking about, there is nothing wrong with that, but then poker should never be more than just a hobby for you. Otherwise you will turn into a bitter old man who sits in the casino complaining to the floor-personnel that his Aces just got cracked. Nobody cares, so stop whining!

I had the same when I just started playing. Everything was unfair and comments like "How could you call, it was obvious I had a monster," were just flying around the table. If you think about it, if it was that obvious that you had a monster and the player with the worst hand should've realized that, then you played your hand completely wrong. But that's something no one talks about. When I used to send bad beat hand histories to my friends a while back, they would laugh at me and block me on MSN. Especially one of them was very direct. Once I sent him a bad beat I encountered on a $0.10/$0.25 table and he replied: "You play 10 fucking 25 cent. You suck at poker and you have no right to complain about hands that are insignificant. The purpose of playing is not making money now, it's improving and getting yourself ready later for making money on tables where it matters. And even there, nobody wants to hear your whining stupid fish, blocked. Talk to me again when you have something useful to say." Ouch. It's hard to express in words how much this guy taught me over the years. This is where you realize that nobody cares. Everyone has seen their Aces cracked by KK before. To hear the same story again from somebody else is just depressing.

Don't get me wrong, this article is not supposed to bash poker players telling bad beat stories. This article is meant to show why people telling bad beat stories get bashed. You have nothing to gain from it and it lessens your qualities as a poker player. If you really want to improve in poker, there's no room for this kind of nonsense. Pretend for once that you know what the game is about and see things from a different perspective. It's a beautiful thing that someone pushes all their money in with only 2 outs. You don't want to turn into a grumpy old man who keeps telling his grandchildren the story of when his Aces got cracked during the WSOP 2011. You make yourself crazy by constantly thinking about these things and it keeps you from reaching your goal. It doesn't help you or the people around you when you keep focusing on the negative aspects of poker.

This is what I forgot for a moment when playing at the casino, but I learned a lot that night. It's been about 1 year since I tilted that hard, and I can assure you that it will take at least another 2 years before it happens again. There is no room in your profession for that kind of nonsense.

Enjoy the game (and the money)

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