Every player is familiar with it. But almost nobody is able to avoid it.
We know it as "Tilt." And it's one of the most destructive - and mysterious - phenomenons in the poker world.
In this new four-part series we'll explore the reasons for it, forms of it and the consequences of one of the most common leaks in poker.
Importantly, we'll also tell you just what you can do to fix it.
A Story You Might Have Heard Before
Our hero is a regular No-Limit Hold'em player. He plays cash games and is currently going through a difficult phase.
For several weeks now things have not been going so well. He's lost more coin flips than he should have, he can’t hit his draws, and if he has a strong hand his opponent often has an even better one.
So, our hero takes a break from poker. After a couple of days he feels better. He sits down at the monitor in a good mood and begins to play.
Four hours later: Our hero has lost four stacks and got unlucky several times. Eventually he gets all his money in with pocket aces and gets sucked out on by pocket kings.
In the very next hand he 5-bet shoves his money in in a blind battle with A-9 and loses to pocket queens. He slams shut his laptop and smashes his mouse against the wall.
He's on tilt.
Blame It on Variance
The phenomenon of tilt is as old as poker.
The origin of tilt is variance. Variance makes sure that there will always be random winning and losing streaks along with certifiably outrageous set-ups.
Extreme situations can cause players to lose focus and distract from their regular playing level. In cases like this, we're talking about tilt.
A player's "absolute" skill level is not the only decisive factor for long-term success at poker.
You also need a lot of mental strength -- and this strength is often underrated.
Luck and Bad Luck
One of the very few players famous for being "immune" to tilt was the legendary Chip Reese. Deemed “The true King of Poker” by Daniel Negreanu and called “arguably the best player who ever lived” by his long-time friend Doyle Brunson, Reese is an icon in the poker world.
He died prematurely of a heart attack in 2007 when he was only 56.
Reese was known as the player who never showed any reaction, any change in his level of play, no matter how bad things would get. Many Las Vegas pros still remember and admire him for his skills.
Jesse May, TV commentator for numerous poker shows, once said that the most important thing in poker is to be able to deal both with luck and with bad luck.
If you're a poker player, you know this is much tougher than it sounds. Frequently emotions suddenly well up and cloud your senses.
More Forms of Tilt Than You Might Think
To recognize the reasons and different forms of tilt is the first important step achieving what every poker player wishes for: Controlling tilt and finding ways to deal with it.
In the remaining parts of this series we'll explain why tilt doesn’t only happen when you lose or when you're on a downswing.
We'll also reveal there are many more forms of tilt than you might think and find out what measures you can take to counter it.