How To Deal With Tilt

I had a good question in the comment section section yesterday that I will just answer here. The question:

I have a question for you, if you have the time. In one of your earliest posts you stated the following: "Fuck this game. It makes no sense at all lol. How the hell is it not rigged, seriously? "

I'm wondering how you got past this point? I find myself constantly tilting, thinking this game is rigged, PS is rigged, guys like you have a 'boomswitch' account, etc... I've wanted to give up so many damn times! I just can't see how the suckouts and bad beats can happen so damn often when it's just 2 players in a hand.

Any secret to how you got past that statement? Did you read more, watch videos, fold more, meditate, witchcraft, voodoo? Anything?

To answer your question. Yes I did say that. And honestly, I think that statement in my head just about everyday at some point. I just don't rant about it here anymore or at least try not to. Nobody likes bad beat stories. With the amount of hands I put in, the insane shit I see on a daily basis is just impossible to understand at times. I bring bad news however. There is no magic formula to overcome this.

Everybody seems to complain about how bad they run these days. You've all heard the stories of aces getting cracked 3 times in a row, that fish hit his flush draw on the river yet again etc etc. There are so many unlucky people out there! But how can that be? Somebody must be running good right?

Online poker sites have been around for 10 years in some cases. Pokerstars alone has dealt 60 billion hands...I just checked. Each of those hands has a raw hand history file that you can request from them at any time. Surely somebody would have found the rigging by now right?

The problem lies in the human brain. There is nothing rigged going on. We just cannot compute the short term craziness. We expect things to always be somewhat "normal" or close to probability. When the truth is, that sometimes it will be off by a wide margin and for a long time. And this is completely normal. Its just part of the random chain of events.

If you have some time to blow try flipping a quarter a bunch of times and write down the results as you go. I did this once. I flipped it 250 times. I believe I had 3 separate instances where it came heads or tails 6-8 times in a row. Crazy stuff happens. And it only gets crazier as you increase the sample size.

If I really had a lot of time on my hands and flipped the coin 1000, 10000, 100000 times in a row I could probably expect to find instances where it came heads or tails, 10, 20 or even 30 times in a row! How many poker hands have you played again? I think you can see where I am going with this.

We also tend to overestimate our abilities a lot. This happens more in poker than almost any other area. There is so much ego involved. And ultimately this is a big reason why it is so profitable. People constantly have their blinders on. Its not my fault. Look at him. He just runs good. I am just unlucky. When we succeed we tend to attribute our successes to some talent or ability of ours. But when we fail, we prefer to blame it on some outside force. This is called the self serving bias.

This has gotten fairly longwinded at this point. Basically the only thing you can do is try to lessen the impact of tilt. Everyone is gonna tilt due to short term crazy runs of cards mixed in with feelings that they are cursed etc due to the self serving bias. As long as you are human, you are going to tilt.

But the best players finds ways to minimize it. Some of the ways to control it may be genetic. That is, some people are able to control their emotions more easily than others. But some of the ways can be learned to a certain degree as well, such as constantly reinforcing the rational arguments above. But there are also a whole host of ways to prevent tilt that you can work on away from the table, or before you sit down, that are available for everyone.

Some of these are not playing when tired, angry, hungry or drunk. Only play when you have a fresh mind and there are no distractions. Always remember that the games run 24/7 and you never have to play.

There are going to be disaster sessions every once in awhile. You need to develop the ability to instantly close all tables and just go take a walk. You simply have to have the ability to not chase losses at higher limits. Its gotta be like committing some horrible crime. You are just not going to do it...ever.

Get better. Be humble and approach the game as though you are going to learn something new each day. The guy who thinks he is already the greatest and never studies will get left behind. Be the guy who is always improving his game and thus his winrate. Bigger winrate = more winning sessions/days/weeks/months/years. Bad beats and coolers are easier to handle because they are cutting into your profits more than creating losses for you.

Lastly, living a healthy lifestyle is crucial for me. Solid diet, regular exercise and good sleep. Simple breathing exercises, or meditating from time to time can also work wonders. You can ever do this while you are playing!. Try it sometime.

poker tilt


  1. Anonymous13 June

    Good post BR-

    I suffer of "massive tilt" and when I have a cooler or a bad beat I start losing pot AFTER pot because I get so angry that I stop thinking and I start doing crazy things (lost 8 BI 3 days ago in 45 minutes, I was sooo angry..)

    I trying to improve that more than poker itself because I think that the ability to get focus and control your emotions are crucial to the game. You cant be a winner with that. Technique is just a part of the game and most of the loses will came when you are tilted, angry, tired ...

  2. Funny.... I moved back down to 2NL after almost busting my BR... Was winning at like 4BB/100, up around $70 after 65,000 hands. Then 1 too many river 2 outters made me go on monkey tilt!!

    I shoved every hand on 24 tables until I dropped 25 buy-ins.. I have a graph on blog showing this.. LOL too funny..

  3. Good stuff BR. Thanks for the Monday morning read.

  4. Great post BR. Thanks for such a thorough reply to my question. Figured there wasn't any sort of magic to getting past tilt, doesn't hurt to ask though... then again, I think I have found something in all the posts I've read on the subject. Tilt in poker is much better managed when irl things are in order. e.g. good health, exercise, positive outlook, etc...

    Keep up the great work man. Good luck whenever you do decide to make that jump to the next level.