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What To Do if You Feel Yourself Going on Tilt in Poker

Home » Guides » What To Do if You Feel Yourself Going on Tilt in Poker

What To Do if You Feel Yourself Going on Tilt in Poker

A person in a white shirt sits at a poker table and throws chips.

Avoiding tilt in poker is incredibly important because your decision-making is what makes you a great player. When emotional distress or anger has taken over as fuel for your decision-making process, then you end up chasing losses. Poker, especially at poker tournaments, is not a game that can be played by using instinct alone; it is a game of intelligence and critical thinking.

Here are a few ways in which you can prevent the onset of tilt.

Prevent Tilt With the Proper State of Mind

As humans, we all carry our own emotional baggage with us as we go about our daily lives. Whether we’ve had a challenging day at work or had a disagreement with a loved one, these experiences can have a profound effect on our mental state and influence the choices we make.

This is why it is important to check your emotional and mental state before playing poker. If you decide that you aren’t in a good mood or there is something bothering you, take the opportunity to deal with it and unwind a bit. One of the best ways to clear your mind and release mood-boosting endorphins is exercise.

The first step to controlling tilt is being in the right state of mind when you play. Take the time to reset and clear your mind because the tilt may always be lurking in the shadows of your mind, waiting to strike.

What Causes Tilt in Poker? Know These Common Triggers

Irritated young woman looking at laptop screen

The onset of tilt can vary depending on a poker player’s unique personality and playing style, yet the outcome tends to be consistently similar. Rational thinking takes a backseat as emotions and ego steer decision-making, resulting in a string of losses.

The Bad Beat

The most common culprit for triggering tilt in players is a bad beat. From the smallest fish to the biggest whales in the game, a bad beat is an inescapable part of poker. This is why a bad beat is a common trigger for tilt. Every player, regardless of skill or experience, runs into a bad beat and has to bounce back. 

Online poker moves at a faster pace than at a land-based casino, with multi-tabling also being a common practice. With hands moving faster and players participating in multiple hands at once, you will encounter an excessive number of bad beats. The ability to avoid a tilt through this will take some serious fortitude, adding to the fact that your bankroll is only a few clicks away from drying up.


Another common trigger for setting off tilt in players is being “card-dead” for a long time. After going through a streak of useless starting hands, missed flops, and folds that came too soon, even seasoned pros can be prone to snapping and going on tilt. 

A bad set of cards usually only trigger tilt if unlucky hands have been piling up for a while – they’re the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak. As the frustration of having to endure each bad hand builds with each one that follows, eventually, the cards come that make it too much to bear.

Online poker players won’t often find themselves tilting from cold cards, as the frequency of hands is much higher. If they are multi-tabling, then they will always have options for something to play. Online players tend to play a much looser game than players in real casinos. Therefore, the question isn’t if you will be getting some bad beats or cold cards but when and how many.

Knowledge Is Key

Cubes dice on keyboard with the words KEY Keep Educating Yourself

The more you know about yourself, the game, and the probabilities of the game, the more easily you’ll be able to prevent going on tilt.

Know Your Own Poker Game To Avoid Going on Tilt

When thinking about how to avoid tilt in poker, knowing your triggers is crucial. What do you personally find the most triggering when playing poker? What is it that drives you to drop your strategy and throw all your knowledge of the game out of the window? 

You should always be searching for those triggers as they reveal themselves. The more experience you have as a poker player and the more you know about your triggers, the stronger you are at the poker table.

Know the Game

The more you know about the game and correct poker strategies, the easier it will be for you to stay on track and avoid tilt. Before you make any decisions with your poker games, try to analyze and review each hand in detail – position, stack size, pot size, odds, betting patterns, etc. 

The more you focus on each hand and look at all the possible angles, the more naturally it becomes to think like that – and the easier it becomes to maintain that way of thinking during a bad run or stressful hand.

Know the Probabilities

Poker players, whether land-based or at online casinos, tend to overestimate the chances of good hands holding up, making a loss feel that much more unfair. Tilt can ruin a night of online poker very easily. What’s more, it’s often worse when the tilt is brought on by a mistake the player should have seen coming. Good hands can still lead to losses, while the favorite hand is often favored by an incredibly small margin. 

Having some background knowledge of common poker probabilities can help keep you from overestimating your way to tilting. If you know that your good hand will likely lose now and again, you will be less surprised, angry or sad when it happens. If you are trying to improve and are thinking about your decisions, you will recognize what you did to lose that hand and learn from the mistake.

A Few Handy Tips When You Feel Like You’re About To Tilt

The moment you realize that you are going on tilt, even if you detect it early on, get up and walk away from the computer for a moment. You need to regain your composure and clear your mind of negative thoughts and emotions before you can carry on playing. 

Here are a few life hacks you can use when you feel the emotions taking over and you’re about to start chasing losses. 

Close Your Eyes and Breathe

In any mindfulness exercise, every practitioner will tell you to stop, close your eyes, and breathe when confronted with overwhelming feelings. This goes for tilt as well. As soon as you feel overwhelmed, lift your fingers off the mouse, close your eyes, breathe, and think about something relaxing to bring you back to a more thoughtful state of mind. 

Repeat a Mantra

Meditation is another great trick. Find a word or phrase that you can repeat over and over as part of the calming process. The repetition is relaxing and distracting from the trigger that escalated the emotions. Try phrases like “Be cool,” “It’s a long game,” “Be patient,” “You got this,” and “You’re not a novice.” 

Listen to Music

Another great way to distract from the immediate impulse to go on tilt is to have a particular song or playlist that you know will calm you when you feel a well of emotion rising up. Studies have proven that music is also a great preventative measure to keep you calm and relaxed in stressful situations. 

Do Some Exercise

Physical exercise is a great way to reduce the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase the production of happy chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. Try standing up, taking a walk, or going for a run. You could even go and kick a ball around. Whatever your exercise preference, this is a great way to reduce anxiety and prevent tilt. 

Test Your Abilities With BetMGM

If you think you have what it takes to prevent yourself from going on tilt, why not put it to the test at one of our online poker rooms at BetMGM.com? Register at BetMGM, where you can play a huge selection of casino games online and even join a few online poker tournaments where your new tilt-beating skills will come in very handy.