Top 5 Ways to Keep Yourself Off Tilt

Published On: 28 September 2008 / Modified: 19 June 2018
Created By: Ronnie Schwartz
Manfred Hammer

In a previous list, we served up a few ways to induce tilt - to get your opponents to play the game emotionally instead of logically and to give you an advantage at the table.

Tactically, this is solid advice, because it allows you to take the initiative and dictate the outcome of events and behaviors at your table.

Unfortunately, as most poker players have come to know all too well, cards not only speak, they also have the last laugh.

So no matter how well you play the game, you will invariably find yourself dealing with life in the tilted zone.

How to Keep Off Poker Tilt

But fear not. Even though tilt is inevitable, it is not insurmountable. To prove it, here are five foolproof ways to overcome tilt in both live and online poker games.

5) The Buddha 10. In your head, count down from 10 to 1 while taking monstrously long deep breaths through your nose.

Inspiration for the Buddha 10
Remind yourself you are great.

With each breath you take, think of how you will come back from this low. Remind yourself that you are great, and you are benevolent; you are a scholar, and people like you.

This may seem easy when you are on an even keel, but when you feel your blood boil toward a volcanic fury of uncontrollable rage, it can be a challenge to find these words.

The first few breaths will feel futile and useless, but by the end, if you can make it that far, tranquillity will have brought you back to where you need to be so that you can eventually stack the fool who sunk you in the first place.

Not exactly the true essence of Zen doctrine, but who said we were following the rules?

4) Pummel a Pillow. Unleash a whirlwind of fury on a designated pillow. Make sure this is a sturdy and reliable, non-feather pillow.

If you only have feather pillows, then a bad beat is the least of your worries.

3) Berate and Castigate a Pillow. Yell various obscenities into the same pillow as in #4 as many times as necessary. Treat this pillow like a person because for the sake of this therapy, it is one.

Say the meanest and most inappropriate things you could ever imagine saying to a pillow, and then crank it up a notch from there. This move can be done in conjunction with the pummel-a-pillow technique but is also effective in its own right.

Be sure to use this move in the privacy of your own home as most of the better-known casinos no longer permit legal entry of private pillows for reasons related to this technique.

2) The Deflation Visualization. Sit still and stare at one small area of the felt in front of you.

As discreetly as possible, firmly apply pressure to the cushion section of the table with the palm of one of your hands (chosen hand not important; dual-hand technique not advisable for those untrained) and picture yourself slowly releasing the air out of a balloon.

The key here is imagining the balloon to be the exact same shape and size as the opponent who just rivered you. Release slowly and remain calm. Once the body/balloon is completely deflated you will be ready to return calmly to the action at hand.

Dario Minieri
PokerStars pro Dario Minieri going to his happy place - at the bar with Isabelle Mercier.

1) The Insta-Dream. This cathartic escape takes practice and preparation. If meditation is in your daily regime then this will be a smooth transition for you.

Essentially this is a mind-control strategy that completely reverses all of the negative aspects of a tilting experience and turns them into energyless spats of floating debris.

You may recognize this move from its debut on the silver screen in the cult classic Happy Gilmore. As part of his anger management, Happy learns to go to his "happy" place in times of need. When you get tilted, this will be your refuge. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

Then wake up and stack him back. Because what use is serenity if not as a tool to prepare yourself for vindictive vengeance?

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