How to get off tilt

Tilt in poker

Each poker player sooner or later comes across the term «tilt», which becomes his greatest enemy that prevents from conquering the world of poker. Tilt in poker means a mental state of a poker player in which he is unable to make grounded decisions and his actions depend on emotional state.

Tilt occurs when players, especially recreational ones, experience stressful situations during the game. In such cases, they don't play the way they normally would, that is don’t show their A-game, play poorly, and make bad decisions at the poker table. But the most dangerous thing in this situation is that the player does not notice it. Thus, a large number of poker players get stuck at low limits or quickly lose all their money, hoping to play it back over time and start earning millions of dollars. But, such a future may never come.

Why poker players go on tilt

According to poker players, the most common reason for tilting is when they lose a big pot or encounter a terrible bad beat. Some of them tilt after losing a few hands in a row, while others become angry if they receive bad cards for a long time or if there is an annoying opponent at the table. 

Having problems in personal life, the wrong choice of discipline and improper bankroll management can also trigger tilt. As you can see, there are many reasons why a player might be exposed to tilt.

Manifestations of tilt in poker

The most common form of tilt is aggression. The player tries to play lots of pots by applying an aggressive game strategy. He also bluffs much more often than usual. Being on tilt, the player will very aggressively play marginal hands in the hope of doubling his chips or even move up in limits to play the lost money back faster. In this case, the player does not follow the rules of bankroll management, as playing at high stakes does not correspond to his bankroll.

Read also: 9 tips to start playing poker

Another form of tilt is passivity, that is when the player becomes passive at the table and stops attacking his opponents. He no longer plays strong hands aggressively, complaining, and constantly fearing another bad beat.

Below we’ll take a look at some guidelines and tips to help you get rid of tilt and deal with irrational impulsive play.

How to get off tilt

Understanding and effectively managing tilt is essential because tilt is a threat that has disrupted the career of many poker players. Therefore, in order to be a successful player, it is imperative to use effective methods to get off tilt. Let’s consider some of them.

Acceptance. Tilt can manifest itself in many ways, and there's no such a cure that will fit every player to beat it. But the first way to fighting poker tilt is admitting that you're on tilt.

Don't be alarmed if you happen to experience tilt, because we all tilt to a certain extent. Face your fear and admit to yourself «I’m on tilt». It will help you deal with this terrible situation and pass it in the shortest possible time.

Determining tilt triggers. We all tilt, but it’s a very individual process. Being able to determine what situations (or even people) make you go on tilt events is a good way to dealing with it. As for tilt triggers, these may be a series of bad beats during a single session, overaggressive opponents constantly putting pressure on you, the long absence of strong starting hands for an extended period of time.

Whenever you understand that you are under the tilt, ask yourself «What made me go on tilt?». This will help you identify your triggers of tilting. It’s very important because if you don't know your tilt triggers, you can't beat them.

Taking a break. Probably the most effective recommendation is to stop playing as soon as possible. There is no definite time frame, as it varies from case to case: some players need a few weeks to recover, while others are ready to play the next day. Do not shorten the break under any circumstances! Try to move on at other businesses, otherwise, you risk losing even more money, and your tilt will drag on for an indefinite period. In general, tilt in poker is a very serious threat, and this is not a joke.

Self-control. If you tend to often go on tilt, then you need to learn to get your emotions under control. A successful career as a poker player requires more than knowledge on starting hands, opponents’ psychology, or applying proper strategies.

Self-control is some sort of foundation, underpinning this game. The ability to control your impulses while playing is an extremely useful thing, as well as the key to make win-win decisions at the poker table that, in turn, will lead to increasing your poker earnings.


Human intelligence often reacts to external factors on instinct. Being emotional, a player makes a lot of mistakes, which number only increases with time. Tilt affects all players, regardless of how strong they are. We can often see famous poker pros tilting, but, owing to their own experience, they are able to competently assess the situation if needed and do everything possible to get off tilt.

So, the main task on the way to a successful play is to constantly train your mind in order to stay calm in difficult situations and take the most rational decisions. As soon as you master the mental aspect of the game, your income will grow.

Reconsider your bankroll. By playing too high limits, which are clearly not for your current bankroll, in order to win back your money, you increase the likelihood of going on tilt due to bankruptcy. It is a surefire path to failure for any poker player.

If you are on tilt, try to move down in limits to recover your bankroll and build on your confidence. You can also try playing freerolls, as these tournaments don’t require any investments from your side. Of course, it may take some time, but you must admit that this is much better than play expensive games and go broke in one session.

Physical exercises and healthy nutrition. Physical exercises will not only improve your overall health and shape but also reduce stress levels. Doing sport releases endorphins into our brains, which can improve our psychological well-being.

Nutrition also plays an important role in a poker player’s life. For example, alcohol and caffeine can easily make us go on tilt. Alcohol impairs our ability to make decisions, while caffeine can cause a heightened alert, nervousness, and thereby provoke us to take unprofitable actions at the table. It’s recommended to limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume before and during your poker session.

Many poker professionals follow a certain diet and regularly do physical exercises, and one should admit that they get off tilt much faster. Proper nutrition combining with sports will help you manage stressful situations, as well as ensure a longer and healthier life.

DEaniel Negreanu 2020

Final thoughts

It goes without saying that tilt is the most dangerous thing for a poker player that can not only ruin his game but even life. You should remember that any player can tilt, as no one is able to get over variance in poker, or predict bad beats and fold cards before facing them unless he/she is a fortune-teller.

The only way to avoid tilt is to spot its first signs and leave the table. Continuing to play in a frustrated emotional state and trying to play your money back as quickly as possible is the best way to go bankrupt.

It’s very difficult to get off tilt, as it’s very individual. Witness your play, determine what puts you in this state and make everything possible not to encounter such stressful situations. Here are also 10 precepts-to-follow that can help prevent poker players from going on tilt:

  1. Do not play if you feel angry, tired, or are indisposed.
  2. Do not start playing until full recovery (either tilt or medical illness).
  3. Don’t join the table when having problems in your personal life.
  4. Analyze hands after poker sessions to eliminate leaks in your game that can lead to the tilt, one way or another. 
  5. Reconsider your poker bankroll – it may well be that you need to move down in limits.
  6. Play fewer tables, as well as keep an eye on the game and opponents.
  7. Don't try to assert yourself by winning single hands.
  8. Don’t draw parallels between yourself and other, more successful players, who can easily deal with tilt. You should not put much pressure on yourself.
  9. Think over the actions that you take a few moves ahead, like in chess, as you should have a solution for every scenario.
  10. Ask your friends who understand poker to estimate your game. It is likely that a friend will notice mistakes, which you have failed to spot.

Good luck on the grind and let the tilt hits you as seldom as possible!

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