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Nathan "BlackRain79" Williams has been a poker pro for more than 10 years with some of the highest winnings of all-time at the micro stakes.


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Top 10 tips for poker players to deal with “tilt”
 

Going on “tilt” is one of the biggest obstacles for many players on their way to poker greatness. We all know the feeling, and nobody is immune to it.

But some players are better equipped to deal with “title” than others. It all comes down to our mindset. The quality of our life, as well as our poker play depends on the quality of our thoughts.

Here are the top 10 poker thoughts and phrases that can significantly improve your mindset and reduce, or maybe even eliminate, your insane monkey tilt completely.

10. It happens

Starting off, there should be a basic acceptance that bad things happen sometimes. And sometimes they happen to us. If something is unlikely to happen, it doesn’t mean it won’t.

We humans are ill-equipped to deal with probabilities. When we hear something has a 95% of success, our minds interpret it as a sure thing. We know rationally that it will go the other way 1 in 20 times, but it’s not what we expect.

So when reality goes against our expectations, it’s only natural to get pissed. But it’s a reality of poker that highly improbable events happen. That’s what makes the game fun in the first place.

9. I won’t let this bother me

The easiest way to stop tilting is to decide internally that you won’t tilt. It’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s not that complicated either.

We choose how we react in certain situations, and it takes a great deal of self-discipline and willpower to keep our emotions in check. But if you make an agreement with yourself and articulate it clearly, it will be much easier.

Try it next time you play. When something terrible happens, say to yourself: “This doesn’t bother me.” And it won’t. It’s like magic.

8. It’s just one of those days

You can’t always win, even if you know all of the latest advanced poker strategies.

If you can’t make peace with that fact, you might need to find another hobby. Losing days will happen, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

If you keep getting dealt garbage hands and missing your draws for hours on end, realize that it’s your turn to get a share of the bad luck. Statistically speaking, you are bound to run cold more often than hot, so accept that sometimes chips won’t be falling your way.

7. How can I use this?

But even on those cold days, you can still have fun. As they say, the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing.

If you keep getting dealt garbage hands, use the down time to observe your opponents and pick up information. If you lose a hand, pay attention to the way your opponent played it.

You might pick up on a tell that you’ll be able to exploit later. Try to think about the money you lost as the price of the information. You haven’t lost money, you’ve invested it.

This is actually one of my top beginner poker tips that I discuss in my latest video:



6. What can I learn from this?

Similarly to the previous point, asking this question forces you to engage the prefrontal cortex and makes you focused on connecting the pieces of the puzzle. If you are engaged in an intellectually challenging task, it’s a lot harder to stay angry.

Asking yourself questions will keep your head in the game, and you simply won’t have enough mental resources to waste on flipping out.

5. I’ll deal with this later

Have you ever caught yourself ruminating on a hand from fifteen minutes ago? Maybe you made a mistake, and keep asking yourself how the hell could I have been so stupid? Or you made a huge laydown and think your opponent could have been bluffing, and it’s eating away at you.

The next time you find yourself not being able to let go of the past, try the following: Write down all the information of the hand and everything that’s bothering you on your phone, or mark the hand if you’re playing online, and say to yourself: “I’ll deal with this later.”

That way you can make peace with whatever is bothering you, and can focus on playing to the best of your abilities. After the session, you can review the spot(s) that you were struggling with.

4. The shoe is going to be on the other foot

The next time your pocket kings run into pocket aces, instead of flipping the table over, ask yourself what would have happened if the roles were reversed.

The money would go in either way. It all evens out in the long run, so why be upset about it? Sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the hydrant.

As long as you are using a proven winning poker strategy, you are going to win in the long run anyways.

Coolers and setups happen to anyone. What separates the winners is how they react to them, and whether or not they’re able to keep playing their best poker.

3. The game is still good

If you’re playing in a profitable game, all the obstacles you face are only temporary. As long as you keep playing your “A” game, you’re going to get your money back eventually.

If you start tilting and spewing your chips it stops being profitable and you’re inviting all kinds of disasters in. If you’re playing in a soft game, you’re bound to get sucked out on from time to time. That’s what makes the game profitable in the first place.

There’s no point in getting pissed about your opponent’s mistakes. Do you want them not to make them? You don’t. So why bitch about it?

2. It’s not that bad

Things are rarely as bad as we make them seem in our own heads. The reality of the situation is you lost some money playing cards. If you can afford to lose money that way, then you probably have it going pretty good.

If you take the broader perspective, it’s hardly the end of the world. You are doing something you love doing, and that is a blessing in and of itself. Plus, you have the opportunity to actually make money while doing it.

1. That’s enough for today

And finally, when all else fails, save yourself some heartbreak and walk away. If your fuse is already blown, no amount of positive affirmations can get you back to Zen.

There’s only so much adversity we can tolerate, and if it gets overwhelming, there’s no shame in quitting. It might be the last thing you want to do, but recognizing when to quit and when to soldier on is also a skill. If you can’t play to the best of your abilities, live to fight another day.

So there you have it, 10 weapons in your arsenal to keep the negative effects of tilt at bay. Internalize them, use them, and repeat them as much as necessary. You’ll find poker to be a much more enjoyable and profitable experience.

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