Avoid Disaster at the Table: How to Overcome Tilt
Emotional control separates the professionals from the amateurs, and is often the difference between winning and losing. To succeed in poker one must become the master of tilt. Tilt refers to a state of mental or physical confusion which leads to a less than optimal play.
What causes tilt?
Bad beats: The most common cause of a meltdown. Imagine having an optimum hand, say pocket kings, and losing to someone who has a 7-3 who miraculously happens to score a three-of-a-kind on the river. That’s probably enough to send anyone raging.
Downswings: Downswings are part and parcel of poker. We all encounter a period of time where the money just isn’t flowing at the table. Naturally, it’s easy to get triggered by the most inconsequential of things in such a dreary situation.
Table Talk: This cause is more applicable in a live setting. Everyone knows poker is a psychological game. There’s always that one dude at the table who loves to taunt others, or maybe there’s a guy who just won’t shut up. It’s easy to lose your cool. However, unlike the other causes of tilt, this one is within your control. Learn to ignore the noise on the table and focus on your game. Develop the mental fortitude and don’t allow yourself to get flustered.
Why one must avoid tilt
Recreational or part-time players embrace their true emotions as a part of the enjoyment they get from poker. This is okay is you play for fun.
For serious players, as the stakes raise and the prize money becomes significant, you need to do your best to optimize strategy and to control emotions in order to keep your gameplay at the top level.
When you reach a level which is common for regulars, emotion is deciding factor between profit and loss. Everyone is experienced enough with the numbers and mathematics of the game. The person who is able to play poker for long sessions and be in optimal state without ever losing their head will always be successful. Imagine participating and running deep in a major event where the prize money is monumental. Lose your marbles for a split second, and you can kiss your golden opportunity goodbye.
The first step to becoming a great poker player is to comprehend the basic mathematics and theory behind the game, but beyond this you will need to work hard to control on your emotions.
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