Tuesday, March 27, 2018

6 Ways to Stop Tilting (That Actually Work)

How to stop tilting poker
Your mind is your greatest weapon at the poker tables. But sometimes your emotions can get the better of you in this game and cause you to tilt, play badly and ultimately lose money.

If this happens to you frequently, don't worry because it happens to everybody sometimes, even pros.

In fact, in my 10+ years experience playing and teaching at the lower stakes tilt is easily the number one destroyer of bankrolls and dreams in this game, especially for newer poker players.

So in this article I am going to provide you with the top 6 poker anti-tilt techniques that I have used in my career as a poker pro.

They have no doubt helped me save tens of thousands of dollars over the years at the poker tables. Hopefully they will help you out too!


1. It's OK to Quit (Really)


The first and most important lesson that I needed to learn in order to stop tilting in poker was that it is ok to quit. We live in a society where we are often told stuff like "quitters never win" and so on.

True in some cases, but not so true in poker. Learning how to quit is actually a skill that you need to master in order to succeed at poker.

There will simply be days in this game (I call them "hell days") where there is absolutely nothing on earth that you can do to win.

You are going to lose every single flip, miss every single draw and get setup again and again (i.e. KK vs AA or flush over flush). At the same time, they will hit every card they need and crush you in every way possible.

There is no point in continuing to bang your head against the wall during days like this. Don't even bother trying to understand it either because believe me, you won't.




On days like this the best thing that you can do is just physically remove yourself from the table and go do something completely different.

Always remember that your results in a single poker session literally mean absolutely nothing. Turn off the computer or leave the casino and come back the next day with a clear mind.

You can instantly skyrocket your long term poker results by learning how to quit when nothing is going your way instead of stubbornly trying to win it back while in a poor mental state like most people do.


2. Making Sense of the Beats


Not many days are like that though. Hell days at the poker table are rare. Most days when the cards aren't falling your way, it is much more minor. In other words you can play through it.

So one technique that I have long used to understand the endless amount of bad beats that you will endure in this game is to always remind myself of the math.

This helps me make sense of the situation in a logical way. This is because the one thing you can't do in poker is fight the math and expect to win in the long run.

So for instance say I have AA, they call the whole way with their bottom pair, and nail their trips on the river.

Well I can easily put this hand into the equity calculator in PokerTracker for example and see that I was a huge favorite to win at every step of the way.

How to stop tilting in poker
Flop equity AA vs bottom pair

How to stop getting angry in poker
Things are looking even worse for them by the turn!

So what if they managed to hit their lucky card on the river this time.

Cool story bro. But if we run this same scenario 10 times, 100 times or 1000 times their entire bankroll is gonna be mine. Now that's an even cooler story!

You can't fight math.


3. Congratulate Them


Something else you can do to help lessen your tilt after a bad beat is to congratulate them on their excellent (terrible) play. The mistake that most people make here though is that they say it in a sarcastic or passive aggressive way.

The next time some goofball calls you the whole way with bottom pair and spikes his trips on the river say "nice hand" to them without any kind of ill-will at all.

Or just say it inwardly to yourself, you don't actually have to actually say it out loud or type it in the chat.

The point here is to be thankful instead that there are people like this in your game. You should just see dollar signs every time they make bad plays like this. Because this alerts you that you are playing in a profitable game.

Look, don't berate your best customers. Thank them for being such loyal donators to your cause. And invite them to keep coming back again and again to make more contributions.


4. Take a Mini-Break


I mostly play online poker but you can use this technique in live games also. Phil Hellmuth is arguably the most famous for using this strategy as well.

And this is the idea of taking what I call "mini-breaks."

What this means is that after a particularly bad stretch of hands I will sit out on all of my tables at once and go take a 5 or 10 minute break to compose myself and replay a few of the hands in my head.

I will also do a bit of deep breathing or meditation to calm my mind and try to ascertain if I am still fit to be playing or if I should just quit for the day.

Don't feel like you need to be forced to sit in your chair and grind it out if you are feeling tilted. But instead of quitting completely try just taking a quick break to compose yourself.

This is one of the main benefits of cash games which is why I prefer them over tournaments. You can sit out without having to pay the blinds or just simply leave altogether whenever you want.

Make sure that you take advantage of this flexibility!


5. Learn to Laugh


This anti-tilt technique is arguably the most important of all. And that is to simply learn how to laugh off this silly game more often.

You see, over the course of your poker career you are going to take countless numbers of bad beats, setups and nasty river cards.

This means that you are going to need to find a lighter approach to this game or it is probably going to wind up being a very miserable experience for you.

Another thing to always remember is that the money doesn't really matter. Most people who read this blog are playing at stakes online for like $2, $5 or $10.

Is it really worth it to get all worked up over the price of a cup of coffee or a movie ticket at worst?

We get to make money playing this silly little card game in the comfort of our own home or in a coffee shop or even at the beach. Sometimes the donks are going to hit their lucky card.

Fish gotta win sometimes too!

Learn to laugh it off and see the humour in this game a little bit more often. The bad beats, the setups and the two outers will always be a part of this game as long as you play it.

The sooner you can learn to separate your emotions from them and take a more light hearted approach to poker, the better your results will be.


6. The Secret Weapon


Alright this last one is actually my secret weapon and that is why I don't talk about it very often.

It is the #1 reason why I am able to stay sane (most of the time) at the poker tables while many of my opponents tilt away all their profits to me.

And this is a fitness lifestyle.

How to stop tilting poker
                          The place where all my tilt melts away

And what's more is that I know that this is not just me. I live in Thailand where there are countless online poker pros just like me from places like America, Canada, the UK, Germany and so on.

I can't tell you how many times I have met them in the gym!

And that is because we all understand the profound mental benefits of regular exercise and strength training. It reduces your stress levels, allows you to sleep better, makes you feel more confident and on and on.

These are all vitally important when playing a game that can be highly stressful at times like poker. And of course this is not even to mention all of the incredible health benefits that come along with regular exercise as well.

Furthermore, all it takes is a couple hours a week, everybody has time for that. You don't need to be one of those guys who spends 3 hours every day in the gym.

I really can't stress it enough. If you take poker seriously, then this is the best thing that you can possibly do for your tilt control.

Heck, forget poker, just do it for you. Don't accept average. Be the best version of YOU!


Final Thoughts


Learning how to stop tilting in poker is a huge problem for many people. And it really is a shame when you think about it because many of them are solid players and they allow their emotions to ruin their results.

Look, I am not perfect. No poker player is. I still tilt sometimes even though I have played millions and millions of hands and made a lot of money playing this game.

But at a certain point you do have to find some ways to tame the tilt monster if you want to survive over the long run in this game. Because quite frankly, the beats, the coolers and the suckouts are never going to end.

Therefore, it is up to you to simply learn how to react to them better. Hopefully some of the anti-tilt tips in this article will help you out in your own games.

And be sure to pick up a copy of my free poker ebook "Massive Profit at the Micros" for my entire poker strategy.

How did you learn to stop tilting? Let me know in the comments below.

How to stop tilting poker

26 comments:

  1. Thank you for the great advice once again this is by far my biggest downfall at the moment

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  2. I actually found u'll tilt harder if your only source of income/entertainment comes from playing poker. I think not most of us are able to grind micro stakes to mid stakes easily, this is 2018, poker has changed, most of us are playing GTO.

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    1. Really dude? You used Micro and GTO in the same paragraph. No wonder u are broke.

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    2. Moan, good point. I think it is important to have variety in your life. I definitely used to have more issues with tilt when my entire life revolved around grinding poker.

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    3. GTo, everybody plays almost perfect just look at NL5 6 max, everybody folds only play solid because multi tabling.

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  3. I think an important part of tilt control is pot-control. Sure, the maths of the game mean you have to lose some hands, but it helps if you lose the minimum each time.

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    1. This is an interesting point that I have considered as well. For some people pushing every small edge might be a bad thing if they have trouble handling variance. Many people try to reduce poker to a math equation and forget the human factor and the role that tilt can play.

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  4. A poker pro with the physique of a bodybuilder. Okay this isn't fair now

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  5. Great article as usual. I'll ignore the excuse to post the "hot pic" at the Gym. Hell I can't ignore it 😁 Mike

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    1. Thanks Mike, glad you enjoyed this article!

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  6. P.S.Whats GTO? I thought that was an insanely fast car by Nissan (Skyline) 😂

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    1. Game theory optimal, don't worry about it if you play below 200nl

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  7. In the first place, variance (getting coolered) is something we should be happy about. If every hand win better player there would not be any fish anymore! There are lot of fishes in this game bc they can be shorttime lucky! Take it easy. If u r playing well you will win in longterm. Think just in terms of EV! Every coinflip is 50/50 but its never split. That's how it works. Don't be crying bi*ch and keep grinding! Gl guys

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  8. [x]Needs to start a fitness blog

    :)

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  9. Today's session, after being mostly card dead or no action: KJ I move all in for 60BB effective stack on the flop K52. Fish calls with AQo, I am 85% favourite, I loose. Next hand KJ also. I move all in for 50BB effective stack on turn J764 rainbow. Fish calls with J8, I am 84% favourite, I loose. And I had another hand that went like this too. I did not tilt, but I felt like vomitting and left breathless. I switched off the pc and hated myself for loving this game.

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    1. Mama said there'd be days like this. And my POV? They keep it colorful for us. They just remind us that the game is about odds, which means that in every hand there is a calculable chance of winning ... and therefore also of losing ("Every hand's a winner, and every hand's a loser") Poker is a long game played over a lifetime, so this session probably gave you some life lessons in reading another player, playing with your head and not your heart, and all like that there.

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  10. the reads are not always right but if i loose even they are right day after day and the bankroll start to nosedive, it becomes difficult to continue with indifference

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  11. If you guys cant handle varriance, play chess.I guarrantee you that in a game of chess,the better player wins 99,9 of 100 times.But you wont make money playing with a grand master because you are already dead meat against him.He wont make money from you because you wont most probably bet that you can take him.Thats why we play poker,the better players win eventually.
    PS Nathan,what poker networks do you play at on your macbook air?Most are windows only if im not mustaken.
    Cheers.

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    1. Jimmy Greece you are right 100%. For better or worse, variance may be tamed if a player puts in 100k hands per month. That player can shrug off a bad week or two. Unfortunately for the recreational player who plays 25k hands per month (if he does) may need to endure 2 months of negative variance, and adding to the fact that he is not a pro, he needs a strong mental game for that. What are your thoughts Nathan?

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    2. Hey Jimmy, almost all poker sites have a mac version. In fact I can't think of any that do not off the top of my head.

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  12. What's the easiest way to reach you with a question? I'm developing something related to health and wellness of online poker players. I'd like to get your take on it.

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    1. Hey Jason,

      Best way to reach me is email: nathan@blackrain79.com

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