Dealing with Tilt in Poker

Getting on tilt is one of the many interesting phenomena in poker that happen because of the human nature, and can have a dramatic effect on our gameplay.  I presume that you guys have also experienced how much a mistake or unlucky twist can influence the way we play the hands following it. But what is the reason behind all this?

I need to note here, that the handling of a ’tilt’ is mostly a capability issue, and the perfection of this is just as important as being able to calculate pot odds or to select the starting hands to play. The so-called bad beats need to be looked upon as something occuring necessarily from time to time. But it is not as easy as that...

Tilt in Poker

The game itself, and the actions certain players take have a direct influence on the feelings of poker players. These altogether determine the outcome of a hand. It can truly cause us big trouble if things don’t go the way we want them to. The symptom called the ’Superior Player Complex’ also plays a very important role in this. As its name indicates, players with the Superior Player Complex feel they are better than any other person at the table and that they always make the right decisions. This is probably one of the most important factors in connection with being on tilt, and becomes a real threat when discovered by an opponent.

If someone is on tilt, he is set to lose a lot of money. As conscious poker players, we need to do everything we can to avoid its effects. There are many popular methods applied by professional and amateur players to get through being on tilt, which is necessarily experienced by everyone every now and then.

Play at a level that suits your bankroll

This is one of the most important and self-explanatory aspects, but is still left out of consideration by many players. If we don’t play at the right level, the tilt will reach us for sure.

Why is this?

We need to make sure that we have enough money to afford the losing series caused by something else than our personal decisions. This is why it is inevitable to have a security backup to cover these downswings. We should always adjust our stakes to our bankroll and stay there until we have made enough profit to advance to the next level. Opinions on this matter differ, but according to the public’s view, at least 20 buy-ins are necessary for a certain stake.


This is also a very important step to take in order to avoid tilt. If we always concentrate on the actual hand that is being played and closely watch the actions of our opponents, we will have less time to be thinking about bad beats. It is also easier to make decisions if not influenced by a bad beat or a past happening; the right way of thinking is a result of continuous concentration.

’Every hand counts’ type mentality

 Don’t let the bad beats take over your emotions, let the current hand take up all your brain cells. What’s done is done, period. Our previous hands can be analyzed later on, but while playing, we should always concentrate on getting the most out of the present hand.

Don’t try to compensate

This point closely relates to the previous one. After losing a hand, we should never try to regain the money at once with sub-optimal gameplay. We should rather continue playing in accordance to our chances and the logic of poker, if possible.

Do not play excessively long sessions and have a break after a serious downswing

Too long continuous gameplay can wear us out and ruin our chances to make the optimal decision. It is best to keep a smaller break every hour or so, as it is much easier to lose our heads if we are tired. When we do perform tragically, we should even consider abandoning the game for a while. Forcing ourselves will only result in the deterioration of our gameplay quality. This is what we humans are like.


Many players find it soothing to listen to music while playing  poker. Rythm and tunes help loosen the tension and can provide a way out of the tilt we are in.
As you can see, tilt is a very complicated phenomenon, and will be present in poker at all times. As a player, it solely depends on ourselves how we handle it. We should always keep a critic eye on our stats and past performance. I would recommend to everyone to face themselves and analyze their actions in order to become a better and more profitable player.