Dealing With Tilt as it Happens

Angry-man-001Of course the number one goal is to prevent tilt before it happens, that is not always possible. Sometimes the issue can be so severe (or the circumstances leading up to it) that you cannot avoid going on full blown tilt.

Conventional poker wisdom tells you to quit at this point. Sometimes that is the only good option left, but not always.

First of all, if the games you are playing in are really good, it can be very harmful in the long term to quit them all the time. Some people think they don’t have a tilt problem because they always quit when they start to tilt, but this actually an example of a big tilt problem that is more costly in the long run than powering through it.

Secondly, if you ever want to cure a tilt problem you need to work on correcting it in moment. The more you work on the correction, the better you will be at applying it in the moment. Just like any other skill, you need to practice the solution in order for it to show up when it is needed.

The following is a simple step by step process for dealing with tilt when it happens. It is best to prepare this routine when your are not on tilt away from the tables so that it is easier to apply in the moment:

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The Seven Types of Tilt

2008_wsop_badbeatBy now hopefully your Tilt Profile will have really helped you get some personal insight into your specific tilt issues, now here is a way to develop that further.

From working with hundreds of professional poker players, I have defined seven types of poker tilt. While everyone’s tilt is unique to them, I am yet to find one which does not fall into one or more of these broad categories.

This is just the next stage of understanding your own tilt, I go into much more detail into the symptoms and solutions for each specific type of tilt in The Mental Game of Poker 1 (A chapter for each type in fact). However it is a good next step to understanding your own tilt if you can put it into one or more of the following types:

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The Top Five Mental Game of Poker Podcasts (So far)

mza_2443368573763171259.170x170-75Right now Jared is enjoying his honeymoon, so it gives me the opportunity to write something I know he wouldn’t.

I’m sure Jared would say all the guests on his Mental Game of Poker Podcast were just as good as each other, however today I have picked out five particular episodes that I think all players can learn a great deal from.

All of his guests have been fantastic, but for me the following five guests really are shows all serious players should listen to:

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Why do we make Spite Calls?

carrierevenge-thumb-510x328-50950In the Mental Game of Poker 1 we talk a lot about a type of tilt we call Revenge Tilt. The name is pretty self explanatory, it is the type of tilt inspired by losing to a particular reg that makes you want to get him back. Revenge Tilt, like all types of Tilt, causes you to abandon a proven winning strategy and play too loose and/or aggressively against the player that pissed you off.

We talk in length about why Revenge Tilt happens, what the symptoms look like and how to deal with it. Last week I listened to a fantastic podcast from Freakonomics (A must listen podcast and a must read book of the same name) that provided a deeper evolutionary explanation on why it happens. The episode was all about spite and cited research from Benedikt Herrmann from the University of Nottingham school of Economics.

Most economists believe humans are Homo Economicus, ie. we are hard wired to act in our own self interest. However Herrmann believes we are actually Homo Rivalis. This means instead of being motivated by what would benefit us the most, we are inherently motivated by what we have relative to other people. Keeping up with the Joneses as it were. [Read more…]

What Happens to Your Brain On Tilt?

homer-simpson-brain-mriThe fundamental difference between the common approaches to poker tilt and what I do comes down to how emotion is viewed. When emotion is viewed as the cause of problems at the poker table, it makes perfect sense why conventional wisdom would urge you to become robotic, trick your mind, or become desensitized to emotion.

In essence, traditional tactics are suggesting that anger is inherently bad, so you must get rid of it. Of course your end goal is to get these negative emotions out of your game, but they are the symptom—not the real cause of why you play poorly.

Finding the cause of your emotional problems requires digging a little deeper, and when you do, the role of emotion completely changes. Emotion, once seen as the problem, now serves a valuable purpose—highlighting flaws in how you are mentally approaching the game. In essence, emotion is a messenger telling you exactly what to work on in your mental game.

More on that in a future post, but for now, let’s dig into what exactly happens when you go on tilt. [Read more…]

The Mental Game of Live Poker with Bart Hanson

BartHansonIf there’s one thing I would change about The Mental Game of Poker 1 it would be to include more examples from the world of live poker. I tried to remedy that in The Mental Game of Poker 2, and if you want more proof that the mental game is just as, if not more, relevant to live poker look no further than today’s guest on my podcast.

Bart Hanson is a live cash game player who is best known for his commentary on ‘Live at the Bike,’ as well as having one of the most critically acclaimed strategy podcasts. His site,, is on of the few training sites to concentrate on live play.

Live poker does not get anywhere near enough coverage on training sites, but Bart is almost single handedly redresses that balance and proves that live players think as deeply about the game as their online counterparts.

During our chat we talk about the importance of patience in live poker, some of the biggest errors online players make when the come to brick and mortar card rooms, how to combat distractions, spotting signs of tilt in others, being results-oriented, and much more.

If you’re an online player who assumes they can just crush the live game, think again. If you’re a live player looking to take your game to the next level, Bart is your man. [Read more…]

The Mental Game of PokerTracker

pokertracker_4_logoI have been truly fortunate to get some of the most fascinating guests on the Mental Game of Poker Podcast. All of whom have shown that there is so much depth to the mental game and that we are only just beginning to scratch the surface.

Today’s episode is not to be missed if you are a high volume online player. I sit down with Steven McLoughlin from PokerTracker to discuss the mental side of tracking software. We discuss some of the most common mental game crutches poker players fall into when using tracking software, the truth about all-in EV and luck, and so much more.

As a mental game coach I found this discussion to be one of the missing pieces of the puzzle. I have many clients who had become over reliant on tracking software, some will use it as a crutch to try and ‘prove’ how unlucky they are. Others had tried to deny the truth by deleting their own databases after bad runs. Make sure you are not falling into some of the most common mental game mistakes when using tracking software by listening to this essential interview. [Read more…]

Poker Mindset Hacks: How to Improve When You Don’t Have Much Time

imagesThere are only so many hours in a day, and especially when you have a job and/or full time studies, it can be difficult to find the time to work on your poker game away from the tables.

Jared and I recently received an email from a fan of the book called Derek. It was a rare instance where Jared referred someone in need of help to me instead of answering himself, because it was about time management, a topic I am something of a nerd on.

Derek had a problem many of us can relate to; he wanted to continue to make progress with his poker game despite being short on time. He worked upwards of 60 hours a week, tried to get to the gym and also spend quality time with his girlfriend. How on earth could he also fit in time to improve as a poker player?
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Defining Tilt

This post is the first part of a series of my guide for dealing with tilt. For those of you who have read The Mental Game of Poker 1, most of this material will be familiar to you. However there is some new stuff coming up to which you might find useful, at the very least as a refresher.

Before we go into the guide, let us make a very important distinction in how we are going to define poker tilt. One of the reasons why you may have struggled to solve a tilt problem previously is because you have been given bad advice on what it really is:

Tilt = Anger + Bad Play

angry-at-computer-e1339510290428The definition of tilt as defined by conventional poker wisdom is too broad. Sometimes tilt just means playing badly; but it also can mean playing badly because of winning, playing too loose, playing drunk, or playing too conservatively. Tilt is hard to eliminate because the definition is so broad it basically includes everything except playing great poker.

To fix tilt you have to know why you played badly. Only when you know the cause of your poor play can you devise a specific strategy to fix it. [Read more…]

Mental Game of Poker Podcast – Productivity

IMAG2596Today on the Mental Game of Poker Podcast, I speak with Pokerstrategy Coach “Schnitzelfisch” who is a personal productivity coach. He became very popular on the Pokerstrategy forums for this guide that he posted on personal productivity.

I’ve talked in the past about and written in the mental game of poker, how errors in how you learn can create mental game problems. You can become frustrated, anxious, lose motivation and confidence all because you don’t understand or have unrealistic expectations of the learning process. Being unproductive or inefficient in the way that you’re working on your poker game, or your ability to balance poker and life, can create the same problems.

By learning more about how you learn, or by becoming more productive, you can eliminate some of those mental game problems as well. Primoz may have some answer that can be a big help to you.

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