poker mindset tilt

Poker mindset

Improving your poker mindset

As a poker player, you have to deal with a lot of setbacks. Suck-outs, bad beats, coolers, and downswings. To have long-term success as a professional poker player, you need to have a strong and solid basis. Firstly, you must have fundamental knowledge of the theory and be able to adapt to the changing tendencies in your stakes. Additionally, you must also have the right poker mindset to deal with this stress. 

When do you determine that your game isn’t good enough for the stakes you’re playing and that it’s no longer just due to a bad run? That uncertainty alone is enough for some players to decide to put their ambitions on hold or even find another hobby.

As a poker mindset coach, I help you by teaching mental skills to better deal with the various types of setbacks inherent in poker, so that you can sit confidently at the poker table day in and day out.

poker mindset ace of spades

Tilt in poker, a case of mindset?

Poker, especially online poker, is a microcosm and a pressure cooker where the highest peaks can be followed by low lows in a matter of seconds. Trying to keep your cool in such an environment can be a real challenge.

“Tilt” is a phenomenon that’s always lurking. In “The Mental Game of Poker,” Jared Tendler describes 7 forms of tilt, each with its own cause and solution. For now, it’s important to remember that tilt at the poker table is caused by the pressure cooker environment that tests your mental resilience.

How well can you stick to your plan when a voice in your head starts screaming louder and louder that you should surrender control over your emotions instead of letting your rationality steer the course?

poker mindset tilt

Tip to reduce tilt at the poker table:

Creating an implementation intention plan beforehand can greatly improve your poker mindset.

What you do with an implementation intention plan is sketch a situation for yourself prior to your session that you can recognize during your game to detect tilt in yourself. Then you set an intention for how you want your behavior to look instead of the behavior you would normally exhibit.

For example, you’re deep in an MTT on GGpoker, say the final 15. Villain hits their 3-outer on the river after a preflop all-in KK vs QQ. Your default behavior might be to shake your head, pound the table, or curse… or all three.

These reactions further fuel your emotions in your brain and the region in your brain responsible for structure, planning, and making rational decisions becomes less active. Slowly but surely, you find yourself in a vicious cycle that’s very difficult to break out of.

Once you know this is your standard behavior, you can set an implementation intention for it: If villain hits their 3-outer on the river after a preflop all-in KK vs QQ, then I will keep encouraging myself by saying that I made the right decision, or that this is part of the game, or that I won the previous 93.5 times.

What you’re doing here is injecting rational thoughts into your head, keeping the emotion at bay, and also reducing the chance of tilt. An additional benefit of an implementation intention plan like this is that you create an extra goal for a very specific situation during your game. Nothing boosts self-confidence like achieving goals. This is a great first step to improving your poker mindset!

Would you like more tips to prevent tilt in poker?

Did you find this interesting? My name is Lex Ligtenberg, MSc. Sport and Performance Psychologist, and I help ambitious poker players with their mindset. As a dedicated amateur player, during my master’s degree, I discovered that the processes and skills that apply in elite sports are exactly the same as those that can be applied at the poker table. Winning poker players are focused on delivering top performance both at the tables and during their study sessions. This realization prompted me to shift my focus to providing individual guidance to poker players who are ready to take the next step in their poker careers!

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