Think like a winner: Tilt
In the third and final installment of my positive thinking series, I look at the toughest challenge in poker
Originally written for PKR’s Raise your game, by Sofia Lövgren
Control it or quit
Jared Tendler describes several kinds of tilt in his magnificent book “Mental Game of Poker”. I’d like to focus on four of them and how you can deal with each of them, which is clearly a must for a winning player.
When you lose because of a your own bad play, it’s never fun. In fact it’s actually good because the pain will help you avoid that mistake in the future and thereby develop you into a better poker player. Next time you make a mistake, don’t swear but instead say to yourself, “That’s fine, we just learned something new!”
Some people believe that they always deserve to win and if somebody else does, it’s unfair. This is Phil Hellmuth’s speciality. Be honest and tough on yourself when you lose and sometimes admit that you didn’t deserve to win and instead try to find the leaks.
Running Bad Tilt
The mother of all tilts and the most destructive to your self-confidence. Continuing losses and bad beats are what make us stop believing in poker and ourselves. As long as you play well, try to remind yourself that you won some Sklansky Bucks (your equity in the hand) and that the variance will even out.
If you lose big over the long term, you might be a boiled frog, and no wonder that you’re on tilt. At this point you have to take a longer timeout and really question what you are doing. If poker is giving you big financial problems and also influencing your relationships with near and dear, you should seriously consider doing something else. Also keep in mind, as mentioned in my last article, hitting the wall may be a sign that it’s time to implement a fundamental change and become a better player. A ‘Running bad’ timeout will give you a golden opportunity to think all this through.
This version is the main reason why some people blow their hard earned bankroll in no time. Responding to big short term losses by trying to quickly win them back is devastating. You should do the exact opposite. Go with Phil Ivey and implement a stop loss strategy. Make it five buy-ins in cash games and maybe 10 buy-ins for Sit & Gos. If you hit that number, take a break, step down in stakes and regain your confidence. Remember: desperation is never successful or attractive. Not on the dancefloor. Never at the felt.