What is Tilt in Poker and its Meaning?

How long have you been playing poker? If you have played this game for a long period of time, you will agree that it is as much about skills, as about your emotions and luck.

And if you are a beginner to poker, you would probably agree with the skills and luck part, but might be confused as to why we have mentioned about emotions?

This is because of tilt in poker – a concept in poker which talks about how your emotions can get the better of you and dictate how things pan out in different rounds of poker.

You could go tilt when you are having a good day or a bad day at the poker tournaments playing Texas Hold’em or Omaha Poker or any other poker game variant.

It is all about losing some bit of control over your emotions and letting that impact the best possible game that you could otherwise have played at the poker table (online or LIVE). And this control over your emotions could be lost due to events happening on the poker table and even due to events that happened prior to you starting to play poker.

So, it is very important to understand the ways in which you could go tilt in poker and take all steps necessary to avoid the same.

You would agree that poker is a game that cannot be played emotionally or by instinct. It requires a lot of intellect and critical thinking, so you need to be in a good mental state to bring your A-game to the poker table.

Just remember that if you wish to become a successful poker player and win consistently, you will have to learn to keep tilt at bay as much as possible.

Now, what do you exactly mean by tilt poker? What are the different types of poker tilt? Why should you avoid tilt? Let us deep dive further to get answers to all these queries related to tilting.

Basic Understanding of Tilt Poker

There is no fixed definition for tilt. Most of the poker players would have heard some or the other explanation for tilt phenomenon.

Some say it is the act of you playing aggressively and furiously, while some say it happens when you get distracted and change your style of play, which may involve you playing way too passively. In simple terms, you can say that tilt in poker is something which is not your best game or A-game at the poker table.

It is a phenomenon seen during poker play where players perform poorly or below their capability due to reasons such as anger, stress or similar kind of emotional distress, which may be caused by events happening on the poker table or events outside of poker.

Examples of events happening on a poker table could be:

  • You are losing to an absolute beginner and feeling sad about it
  • Your bluffs going wrong continuously
  • You are losing too many hands on the trot
  • You are not being able to understand your opponents and getting frustrated
  • You are feeling the pressure of the aggression shown by your opponents and mistakenly fold up good hands

Examples of events not related to the poker play could be:

  • You are playing poker after a very tiring day at work that left you exhausted
  • You are coming to a poker table after having a heated argument with a friend/family member
  • You are starting to play poker despite being under some kind of emotional and monetary pressure

The events discussed above are just some of the possible ones. There can be many more like these which could cause you to lose your emotional control during poker gameplay.

Why should You avoid Tilt Poker?

Let us have a quick look at some of the reasons that tilt should be avoided if you want to succeed in poker.

  • Poker involves you taking a lot of decisions during actual gameplay. With less control over your emotions, you are likely to make errors in judgement and take decisions which you wouldn’t have taken otherwise.
  • When you error on the emotional side, you tend to give away a lot to your opponents. It becomes easier for them to manipulate your game, to understand your body language and tendencies, and win more hands against you.
  • Tilt impacts your critical thinking ability and decreases your chances of outsmarting your opponents with smart gameplay.
  • Tilt doesn’t allow you to execute your best poker skills and exposes your weaknesses easily. You are at your most vulnerable state with regards to getting exploited by other players without you even realizing the same. This is the worst part – on several occasions, you won’t even realize that you are playing under the influence of tilt.

It is clear that if something (like tilt poker doesn’t allow you to be at your best), you should stay far away from it. So, what are the different tips/strategies to avoid tilt? Let us find out.

Strategies to avoid tilt in Poker


1. Taking a Quick Breather at the Table

If you realize that you are getting upset with the gameplay pretty early before emotions take complete control over you, you should allow a few seconds breather for yourself.

Try whatever works out best – be it closing your eyes and taking deep breaths for a few seconds, motivating yourself by singing your favourite song in your mind or repeating some inspirational phrase, etc.

Do whatever you believe can quickly help you redirect your attention and mental energy and get you back to the top of your game.

2. Get Away from the Game for Few Minutes

If you feel the above strategy doesn’t help you to play your best game, do not wait for things to get worse. Instead, take a call immediately to get up from the table and take a break for a few minutes.

Do something that can cheer you up by completely defocusing from the game and whatever bad beats or losses you suffered till then. Go to the washroom, freshen up, listen to a song on your mobile, or speak to a loved one for a few minutes.

You can try these things even when you are playing online poker, where you have the benefit of using your time bank. It’s like taking a break and coming back to the poker game with a completely fresh mind.

3. Focus on the Current Hand and Detach from the Past

Many a times poker players falter because they let things that went wrong in the previous hands affect them and change the way they approach fresh hands.

It’s like thinking about ‘what could have been’ if that last player hadn’t caught your wonderful bluff in the previous hand or thinking ‘I am going to recover all my losses of last 3 hands in this round’.

Do not let such baggage from the past poker hands affect your concentration levels and thinking prowess for the current hand. Learn to take each hand as it comes and focus all your energies on that hand only.

Whatever happened prior to that has to be forgotten. Of course, this is easier said than done. But, if it was so easy, we would have had many poker champions. If you wish to be a champion poker player, you have to learn to keep your concentration levels intact and avoid tilt poker at all costs!

4. Play Poker when You are Fresh

Do not plan to play too much poker when you haven’t slept for days or have had an exhausting week at work. Attempt to play poker when have slept well, had a good day, and are completely fresh to apply your mind at the game for long hours.

Understand Different Types of Poker Tilts

This is one of the critical strategies that will help you to avoid most of the possible tilts. As mentioned earlier, different poker players have a different understanding of tilt poker.

You need to study in-depth about the different types of tilts that can happen. Only when you are aware of these, will you be able to identify if you are succumbing to any of these and accordingly take precautionary measures the next time around.

Few types of tilts in poker are as under:

1. Passive Tilt

This is a silent type of tilt that is difficult to spot. It is caused by new limits or bad runs or insufficient capital or even while playing with scared money (when you are not comfortable with the limits) that result in confidence loss or fear from taking risks.

Here, you often start to ‘check’ and ‘call’ way too often, in place of placing a ‘bet’ or ‘raise’ when the going is good for you.

2. Loose Tilt

It is quite common amongst poker players where you start to play many hands pre-flop as well as fold very less hands at the post-flop stage. This happens when you want to be in action all the time and are intending to win big money, or make up for losses suffered earlier, or you are overconfident.

3. Stereotypical Tilt

In this type of tilt, you happen to follow a fixed pattern of playing by ‘the book’ without thinking about its relevance to your existing state of the game. This means you do not adapt your game according to the situation just because you are either tired or bored or distracted with no interest in concentrating hard.

The Verdict

One thing is clear – there is no room for emotions in the game of poker. Tilt poker is no good for any poker player, and you will do well to keep all the above-mentioned tips in mind when you play next.

It is vital for you to identify the reasons that cause you to tilt and the type of tilt, and immediately take remedial measures to keep the tilt at bay.

This is the only way you can conquer and defeat tilt poker. Start implementing these strategies in real money poker games right away by playing poker online at Spartan Poker by downloading its app now!