What a dreadful word; tilt. Nobody wants to do it. Most people do do it. Most people who do do it, don’t think they do it. It is an unquestionably crucial aspect of poker that one thoroughly understands this phenomenon.
So what does it mean to be on tilt?
Once you’ve gone “on tilt” it means you’ve lost emotional control over your game. Some players take a Stoic approach to poker. Keeping emotions on an even keel is the key for these players. Once that boat tips, they’re done. Other players, rather than tamp their emotions down, release them in a methodical, controlled manner. They are bombastic or seem outwardly friendly (maybe confrontational) at the table. But this is a controlled way of acting that is designed to both regulate their own emotions and affect the other players. Either way, once whatever means of control is lost, the player is on tilt. And that means they are in trouble.
Why does this happen? Could be for any number of reasons. Something that happens in game is the easiest to pick out. Taking a bad beat in a hand is the simplest thing that can upset a player. Maybe you got sucked out on the river by a hand that had no business going up against you. Something going on at the table that annoys you but doesn’t directly involve the game could do the same thing though. Maybe the guy next you you has really bad cologne and its irritating as hell. On top of these types of things. It could have nothing to do with you playing poker at all. Maybe your dog died and you’re still too upset to really focus on playing well, yet you play anyway.
Everybody gets upset or annoyed about things. Its impossible not to. Even the coolest cucumber at the table gets mad. The trick is, don’t play when you’ve lost emotional control. But, this is easier said then done. Like I said up top, most players don’t even realize when they are on tilt. It takes a lot of practice and self reflection to realize this about yourself. You not only have to be able to recognize when and how you go on tilt, but also how your play is affected. Do you shut down and start passing on hands that you should play? bet too low or too high? Or, like most people, do you start throwing your money away.
Once you’ve got a good handle on your own tilt, you can start exploiting that last point from others. The best position to be in at a table is sitting there with a badly tilted player who is willing to just throw thier money away out of frustration. You may even get to a point where you can consciously induce this state. I know when I sit at a table, I get very chatty. I wanna know everything about everybody. This gives me infirmation about them I can use to disrupt their game, and hopefully induce a tilt. “Oh is that an Eagle’s Jersey your wearing? I’m from Dallas, we sure let you guy’s have it last week huh?” Something as simple as that could knock a player off their game.