Handling Online Poker Tilt
Tilt may very well be the primary reason why you lose money when playing online poker. Even if you are a winning player, tilt may still be a reason why your win rate isn't as high as it could otherwise be. Many players will openly admit that they have a problem with tilting. Other players will say that they never tilt, and they are probably lying.
The most common type of player will tilt from time to time, but they aren't prone to donating their entire bankroll in a fit of rage. The first step to curing your tilt, as is the case with anything problematic, is to admit that you need to fix it. There's literally nothing (aside from incredibly terrible play) that's more detrimental to your bankroll than tilt.
One thing that players may disregard in online poker play is the fact that tilt may not actually be taken out on money. You may throw things or break things instead of spewing off chips at the table. Though it may not be a straight loss of cash, these types of reactions will also serve as a drain on your bankroll. Anytime you are costing yourself money (or even time) as a result of tilt in online poker, you are hurting your bankroll.
How to Handle Online Poker Tilt
Handling tilt in online poker is much easier said than done. It's not a problem that is fixed with the snap of a finger. You can't just tell yourself to stop and have it be done. It's a problem that's going to take a lot of time, effort, and self-restraint to truly cure. A lot of players, even the majority, will never put forth enough effort to control their tilt, which simply means that they'll never end up playing with as much emotional control as they really should be.
Simply quitting is the best way to ensure that you aren't going to tilt. The problem with this remedy is that it's very hard to put into practice. When you are losing money, the last thing that you likely want to do is quit while you are down. The more immediate reaction is to try and win back any of the money that was just lost. While this is perfectly normal, there's a better chance that it will end up costing you even more money in the long run.
Seldom does a player go on crazy tilt and end up making all of their money back. If you start open shoving on every table, it's inevitable that you are eventually going to get called in a few spots which will ultimately compound your losses. Beyond this, losing in your tilted play will make you even more angry, which is again only going to add to the already inflated losses. It's the simple chance that you might get lucky and win those buy ins back that tempts players into playing like a maniac when things are going bad.
To be perfectly honest, it makes more sense to play roulette or blackjack when tilted than it does to continue playing poker. The reason for this is that tilted poker play is putting you at an absolutely massive disadvantage, whereas other casino games give you a reasonable chance of winning or at least losing the least. While casino and table games certainly aren't the most advisable place to head when you are on tilt, they make a lot more sense than a tilted poker session.
Taking a Break
Taking a break is the second best option to quitting when you are trying to eliminate the tilt that's rushing through your veins. The caveat to taking a break as a resolution to tilt is that you'll need to be able to ensure that you are quitting for long enough periods of time. You should be away from the computer for a long enough period of time that you eventually have no interest in playing at least for a little bit.
Taking a break doesn't mean that you should simply take a short walk and then return to the computer. Though you may attempt to trick yourself into thinking otherwise, a short break won't eliminate the tilt from your game. If anything, a small hitch in your first few hands will set you off even more than you were before. Taking breaks is something that could work to reduce tilt, but you need to be careful that you are not cutting the break short.
Moving to Different Limits and/or Games
Another popular way for players to minimize the effects of tilt is to switch games. For a tournament player, it wouldn't exactly make sense to go to a cash game table when they are tilted as this would be expected to only add to the pre-existing losses. If you are a cash game player and move to a much lower stake, however, you may very well play differently once you realize that the money won't be easily won back through a few fortunate double ups. Taking yourself out of the scenario (limit) where you can potentially win back your money will also mean that you are also out of the environment where you are prone to losing more of it.
If you want to, you can even move to the absolute lowest limit games and just go crazy. If you are normally playing 100NL, take your bankroll down to $.01/$.02 (that's 1 cent/2 cent) and just open shove for several minutes. Not only will your opponents go nuts in the chat boxes, but it's a good way to blow off steam without the financial loss. Most players love sliding the bet size bar to the max and clicking bet, but it will mean that you are losing a lot of money in the process. Have fun and burn off tilt at the same time by losing $5 or $10 in super micro stakes games instead of $500 or $1,000 in your normal games.
If you struggle with tilt in live poker and are looking for ways to cope with it, make sure to view our strategy article on stopping tilt in live poker.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
Related Poker Articles