John over at Leak Buster sent us this and it's a good read if you haven't fully addressed your tilt issues.
Every player to have ever sat down at a virtual or real poker table has had bouts of tilt. We're not perfect, and it's an un-avoidable reality that tilt is going to creep in at some subtle, and not so subtle points in our decision making. Recognizing tilt and having the discipline to sit out or quit a session when tilt sets in is easier said than done for most players. So what are some realistic solutions that can be applied in real time to first – a) recognize tilt, and b) employ some discipline to stop playing?
The first step in beating tilt is making sure you properly identify it. Some easy ways to spot tilt are:
1. You notice a rise in your body temperature. You feel physically warmer at the table. They don't call it being a hot head for no reason.
2. You feel a need to criticize the play of someone at the table, especially someone who may have put a bad beat on you. If you begin to teach, you've begun to reach into the tilt bag.
3. You've just lost a big pot and now you're involved in the very next hand with a marginal holding. Trying to make that money back quick, will just make you sick.
4. You're suddenly getting a lot of callers to your pre-flop raises, when you weren't before. Other players can smell tilt a mile away like sharks smell blood in the water.
5. You're making quicker decisions at the table than you normally would. Getting out of your normal state of mind, and just wanting to win back some pots can make for some quick and non-thoughtful play that will lead to spew.
Being a Quitter
The most difficult part of addressing tilt is having the discipline to quit once you recognize it. Everyone thinks they can beat the tilt monkey away, but almost no one is successful. You can't learn discipline by reading an article, a book, a video, or even coaching. A coach can only lead you to the water as they say, and discipline is a lifelong process in most cases. If you know this has been an issue for you, then be honest with yourself. Try and employ some of the following techniques to develop the discipline to stop playing when you need to.
1. Set a timer for a pre-set amount of time before you begin to play a session. 30 minutes is a good base time to start for this exercise. After 30 minutes, no matter how good or how bad you're doing, stop playing. Do this at least once or twice a week. The idea being that you can begin to shift your mind to know that it's OK to stop when you need to.
2. Grab a pen and paper before you begin a poker session. Write down the date and time you start playing. Every 10-15 minutes, write on the next line below where you marked your time what you think your state of mind currently is on a scale of 1-10, 10 being at your best and 1 being at your worst. Chart your sessions like this, and look for patterns in where your state of mind begins to drop off.
3. Every time you begin to recognize tilt, sit out for 5 minutes, or the next couple of hands. Take a couple of deep breaths. Focus and tell yourself that you are here to play your "A" game.
4. If you play online, get a 3rd party piece of software that will cut off your sessions after a pre-defined number of buy-ins or time.
There are countless incredible poker players that could play with some of the very best players in the world, but couldn't develop the necessary discipline to address their tilt. Try and look at developing good tilt discipline as important, if not more important than learning how to be good at the game of poker. Work in regular exercises like you would study hands, or talk theory about poker. This is the only game where you're awarded for being the best quitter.
John Anhalt is a professional poker player, and founder of Ace Poker Solutions LLC. John has produced over 150 educational videos on the game of poker, written two books on poker theory, is the founder of PokerZion.com, and is the original creator of Leak Buster and Ace Poker Drills training software.