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What is Tilt – And How to Avoid It

One of the main issues poker players face is a little thing called “Tilt”! It’s the biggest downfall of any player and has caused many to walk away from the game. Bet it from losing all their money, or just getting so frustrated with losing that they give up.  Most of the time the former is the case.

I have personally seen many a good player lose their mind and their bankroll at the same time because of tilt. It’s a devastating problem that afflicts the very best players and it must be overcome in order to succeed at poker.


What is Tilt?

We must first ask ourselves – “What is tilt?”

Tilt comes in many forms, but its most common occurrence is when a player keeps losing, and losing then finally hits the wall. They start to question every play, they will play hands shouldn’t be and overall start to play very poor poker.

Their decisions become based on emotions, rather than the best play based on profitability. Anytime, you play a hand based on what happened on past hands, this is tilt.

If you play online, you have surely seen some dude blowing up the chat box after he just lost pocket Aces to that random hand. Next thing you know he’s calling everyone an idiot, along with other; not so pleasant names and he begins to play recklessly and pretty soon they are left felted.

How to avoid tilt

Now that we know what tilt is, how do we avoid it, or at least control it.

The first step is to understand when you are on tilt, or getting close to that point. We all have different inflection points where we can only tolerate so much. Some of us may be able to withstand every bad beat in the world, but most of us have a smaller toleration for losing.

Once you find that point where you start to play bad, or get angry, frustrated or even call someone a name. It’s time to quit playing. Get up from the table, stop playing and don’t come back until you’re cooled down and ready to start playing our A game again.

This could be a few mints, or even a few days. I once took a 2 week break because I got so frustrated while on a bad losing streak. I would sit down at the table, and quickly get up because I just didn’t feel right. I knew I would play bad and was still steaming over losing.

Finally, you need to understand that you will lose at poker. No matter how great you are, you will not win every hand you play. We all lose with Aces and we will all go on some type of losing streak. The sooner you understand that losing and bad beats is a part of poker, the sooner you will start to overcome tilt.

Since poker is a game of numbers and math, the math will dictate that even 7-2 will win some of the time.


  • Breathing exercise will help to calm you down while playing poker.
  • Eating well can also keep your mind focused and even keeled.
  • Avoid crying about your bad beats. No one wants to hear them and it only fuels the fire on your own tilt. Not to mention it’s counterproductive.


Recommend the following:

The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies For Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More


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  • Ivan Y

    Good tips for beginners Chris. I would definitely add “taking a short break” during a poker session if you find yourself on tilt, or steaming after losing a big pot. It’s always easy to play poker when you are winning and everything is going your way; however, it is much harder to play when you are stuck a buy-in or two during the session.

  • Shahdad Samimi

    These tips are stupid and the same thing is repeated here like every other site…. Maybe for beginners or people who are familiar with poker explaining what it is and giving an overview is good information wide, to breathe or to eat are the dumbest thing I’ve heard….

  • ohmesohrny

    Living a healthy lifestlye will surely seep into your poker lifestyle. If you think that living a bad lifestyle will lead to success at the poker tables, just look at the numerous examples of those who chose to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Matusow, Unger and a few others quickly come to mind. The former is always broke and the latter is deceased – sadly. Furthermore, i know plenty of players who are much better than myelf and could be top players, but they lack the discipline and lifestyle to succeed at poker. They are always pssing away there money and tilting it off. Its a sad fact and you think otherwise, your blind

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