Controlling your emotions at a poker table

If you’ve played online poker before, you’ve probably heard someone saying, “I shouldn’t have called but I was on tilt”. Tilt is used to describe the angry emotional state of a player at a poker table leading him to playing badly and uncontrollably.

The part of the brain that responds first when you’re angry is the one dealing with instincts. It’s the part allowing you to react quickly without having to think first. In online poker, it leads you to take quick decisions without careful consideration.

Emotional control is therefore an important skill in poker and anything that could cloud your ability to make decisions will impact your poker game negatively.

Anger comes from expectation clashing with reality

Imagine you have a good hand and you go all in right from the start. An opponent decides to call and so the cards are laid out on the table. You stay in the lead as the dealer is dealing more cards, but the very last card manages to give your opponent the win.

Rationally there is nothing amazing about this poker hand. You won the money as a 69% favourite and should be happy about it. Your opponent, however, will win around 3 out of every 10 times and this happened to be one of those times.

You’re bound to feel irritated when this situation occurs due to your expectations to win. You must not lose control of your emotions by being disappointed.

You must accept that there is a decent chance of losing and that you can’t control the outcome.

Be honest about what you’re feeling

We are all affected to some degree by our emotions. There is nothing wrong with that. You have to be honest about what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it. You should also identify what triggered your reaction.

Just by admitting your anger and identifying the reason, you’re likely to stop the chain reaction leading to anger. 

Take a break

If that doesn’t help, get up and walk away from the computer. Taking a short break should help you regain your composure.

If you think you need to take a longer break from gambling, we offer self-exclusion options too. Have a look at our responsible gaming section.

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