Preventing Tilt Before it Happens with the Tilt Profile

imagesIn order to deal with tilt you must first understand it. In order to prevent it before it happens, you must be able to spot the early warning signs.

One of the first things I do with my clients is have them fill out what I call a Tilt Profile. This is literally just a document on a notepad or your computer that helps you better define nuances of your own tilt issue.

Despite many commonalities, every player tilts in slightly different ways and for different reasons. The role of the Tilt Profile is to recognize what tilt means for you.

One of the best times to understand your poker tilt better is immediately after a session where you tilted, because it’s so fresh in your mind. Of course, since tilt is so costly, your best bet is to spend time thinking about previous situations where you’ve tilted.

The Tilt Profile

Use the questions below as a guide to begin analyzing and identifying the details of your tilt. If specifics are hard to find, that’s fine; everyone has a different starting point:

• What causes you to tilt? (Bad beats, losing to fish, running bad, etc.)
• What are the things you say to yourself out loud, or to other players, when frustration starts rising and when tilted?
• How do you know that you’re on tilt? What’s the first thing you notice?
• How does your body react to tilt? (Head gets hot, body is sweaty, heart races, fist clenched, etc.)
• Can you identify the point when tilt starts shutting down your thinking?
• At what point do you take action to deal with tilt?

bigdeal_lr2The answers to these questions, and whatever else comes to mind about tilt, form the baseline of your Tilt Profile. It is impossible to control something you don’t understand, so the goal at this point is to continue building your tilt knowledge base. While accuracy matters a lot when it comes to resolving tilt, simply increasing your knowledge often leads to at least some improvement. That may not mean you can control it at all times, but since increased knowledge or recognition is often the first of many small steps, you’re off to a solid start.

Recognizing your own tilt triggers is very important for when you are at the tables. For example if you document in your Tilt Profile that you start making loose calls from the blinds when you start to tilt, you are more likely to notice this trigger when you are at the table. Because previously you had not called this leak out as a sign of your tilt it went unnoticed until it was too late, but now that you have called it out, you have a chance to intervene before the issue escalates.

Having a baseline for your tilt problems is also important because it gives you a solid point of reference to evaluate progress in the future. Tracking your mental game is not like tracking poker stats. There are times when the intensity of your anger feels the same as before, but in reality, your mistakes aren’t as bad, you recognize tilt faster, you take action against tilt earlier, you quit a session sooner, and the thoughts in your head are less negative.

Small improvements have to happen before many players are able to take full control of tilt. A Tilt Profile that’s written out gives them the ability to see the small improvements that are hard to see. It’s critical to recognize these small improvements so you avoid falsely abandoning a strategy that is working in slower or less significant ways than you would expect.

Finally, the Tilt Profile is not a one time thing, it is a document you want to update on a regular basis, maybe even as much as every time you play. The more you do it, the more details you will noticed and the better you will be able to prevent tilt before it happens.

Next time we will look at how to deal with tilt when it has taken over at the tables. In case you missed them previously, check out our previous posts on defining tilt and what happens to your brain on tilt.


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