Shirley Rosario
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Tilting in Poker

Discipline and Poker Tilt

by Shirley Rosario

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Poker TiltPoker tilt is when we do things we normally wouldn't because we are upset or irritated or disappointed for one reason or another. This article is not exclusively about tilting, but rather all the things we know we should or shouldn't do in regards to poker. Although we know so many things, having the discipline to apply them every time we play is another matter. We know we shouldn't tilt while playing at a poker table; we know that we should play within the means of our bankroll; we know that we should stay focused at the table, but it is not what we know, it is what we do that separates us from the average player.

Emotional control is absolutely necessary to succeed in poker. Tilting is bad. Tilting costs us money. We all know this in our heads, but sometimes it is difficult to control. Learning how to control your emotions is probably the most difficult task in poker to master. The main thing to remember when playing poker is… it is poker. It is a game of skill, but also a game of luck. Sometimes our opponents are going to go into a hand with the worst of it and come out of it with the best of it. If we understand that it is part of the game, then it is less likely to bother us. The thing that occasionally puts me on tilt is when I think I played a hand incorrectly. Normally when I do this, I have to get up and walk away from the table to clear my head. If that doesn’t work, then I have to get up from the game entirely and call it a day.

Playing within the means of our bankroll is another quality a player must master to be successful. I have seen some of the talented players lose everything they have because they do not play within their bankrolls. I have finally realized that there is no way I can consider the above mentioned players to be "the best" if they lack this quality. Poker is a slow and steady process. It normally takes years to acquire a bankroll and move up in limits. You might easily be able to justify to yourself why you play in a game that is too high. "I just want to make one big score to get me started" or "The game was too good to pass up." Remember that you are only fooling yourself. Take the slow and steady ride, and you will get farther along than trying to take the fast and easy way.

Having total focus on the poker table can reward you in more ways than you can imagine. If you notice a player always raises when they hold large pocket pairs, then you can avoid a confrontation with him when you hold marginal hands. If you notice that a player always bets if they raise preflop, then you can check to them when you hold a big hand knowing that you will probably be able to get a check raise out of them. If you notice that a player looks away from the flop when he flopped a monster, then you can comfortably fold what might otherwise be a big hand. No matter how you look at it, paying attention equates money won. Sometimes you might not lose one extra bet, but that is the same thing as winning. Money you don't lose spends the same as money you win.

I believe the three things that separates a truly great player from an average player is having emotional control, playing within the means of their bankroll, and having total focus every time we sit at the table. A player can not apply these things only most of the time and be great. They must apply them every time they sit at a table. Once a player can do this, they will have such an advantage over their competitors. It is not enough to know these things, you must be able to do these things and do them 100% of the time. It's all up to you.