Elements of Tilt

by ~ May 10th, 2009. Filed under: Micro level poker, Philosophy and approach, Poker theory, Weaknesses.


I used to think that tilt meant steaming after a bad hand. A bad beat, a suckout. I know some TAGs that blow up after raising preflop and then losing to a hand that they think should have folded to the preflop raise. One of these normally has his chat disabled because he gets himself in trouble with the poker sites when he tilts.

But there’s a broader definition of tilt as well. The broader definition seems to be: Tilt: anything that causes you to play less than your normal game, especially if the source is something that happens at the poker table. Bad beats might be one source. Frustration of someone playing back at you might be another. Maybe generating a list is better:

  • Bad beats/suckouts
  • Frustration of losing a big hand, suckout or not
  • Frustration playing against an aggressive player
  • Frustration of being card dead
  • Frustration of being situation dead (good cards and no one calls, bad cards in late position)
  • Anxiety of having good hands come up at the same time while multi tabling
  • Boredom of playing a single table

Some things that put me off my game that might be more common for me than for most, although I’m certainly not unique:

  • FPS (Fancy Play Syndrome)
  • Running cold for long periods
  • Playing MTTs that take longer than I expect
  • Playing poor players. I can get frustrated, or bored, or impatient.
  • Watching videos of players playing higher stakes, then trying to apply the principles against players who don’t understand enough to even have an idea of what I’m doing or representing. They aren’t holding what the players at the higher levels are holding when they make similar plays (betting their draws aggressively) and aren’t folding bottom pair when you represent a hand with a c-bet and even multiple barrels.

And, there’s a multitude of non-poker aspects that also put me off my game:

  • other sources of stress, anger or frustration that I brought with me before I sat down to play
  • tiredness, physical or mental
  • radios, music, or televisions that are on loud enough for me to hear in my room where I play

When things go tough for long periods of time, poker starts to become difficult. Someone once said that poker ain’t rocket science, but when I’m running bad for long periods of time it starts to seem that way.

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