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Tilt: Bad Beats and Variance

My emotions don't care

For poker players, bad beats and high variance are unavoidable and very real, and nobody with at least some knowledge of the game will deny this.

The PokerStrategy forum is full of bad beat stories and reports of "brutal" variance, which go hand in hand with familiar automatic replies along the lines of 'That's completely normal', 'Playing this hand like this is profitable in the long run', 'variance is part of poker', etc...

The original posters are usually already aware of these facts, but this doesn't improve the situation. We know the facts, but swings and continuous bad beats still annoy us so much - that we are often no longer capable of playing our A game.

Why is this? We understand what is happening on a rational level, but we are still shaken on the emotional level. I am trying to use my intellect to stay in control, because I can rationally understand what is happening, but my emotions don't care about this. They pull me down and crush my spirit.

Therefore, I can tell myself that the downswing is completely normal hundreds of times, but, due to tilt and my bad mood, my play won't improve, not to mention that I also have the monetary losses.



That's not the entire article...

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Comments (26)

#1 mouse89, 06 Oct 08 15:08


#2 AugustusCaesar, 15 Dec 08 23:57

Very nice

#3 sohan2305, 21 Mar 09 10:01

i like it ....

#4 darrhhh, 30 Mar 09 11:20

damn, the best thing you can do is quit before you erupt on a table

#5 Jannek799, 24 Oct 09 14:31

yes it is;D

#6 Altzu, 21 Nov 09 01:13

My biggest problem, cant say NO!
last coupel of days 5 real hard bad beat.
Bankroll lost 2/3.

Now again at the lowest tables.

#7 rbdflyboy, 31 Dec 09 01:03

The frequency and size of the bad beats on some sites makes me question why I even play there in the firat place. I have developed my own hit list of sites who will never see a penny of my own money deposited there. If I look at the situation this way I feel I'm getting even,not mad. It is in fact the frequency of the bad beats that gets me jacked. By that I mean the frequency of the bad beats causes me to reevaluate my strategy to a position of overcautionness. The other problem I encounter with this is doesn't seem to matter how many times I switch tables the bad beat crew appear to follow,which begs the cloud or.....?

#8 blankcheque, 20 Feb 10 17:26

decent article. agree with wot rbdflyboy says. some sites i do well on some i have nothing but bad beats constantly

#9 Leolince, 06 Mar 10 20:44

I can't remember the last time I won with AA. Yesterday lost 3 times. Today lost 2 times. It has been like this for over a month. I also loose more with KK and QQ then other hands.

#10 czzoltan, 21 Mar 10 01:29

try making a bigger raise before the flop and don't let to many opponents get involved.. it usually helps, but you get mad again for winning just a couple of cents with your quality hand :D

#11 noenergy, 31 Mar 10 08:32

and if somebody raises preflop before you just re-raise or go allin depending on haw aggressive that player is

#12 FishDan11, 25 May 10 15:59

Great article!

#13 love2w1N, 27 Jun 10 09:43

Very useful article. Thx :)

#14 Scar7, 24 Sep 10 00:21

I like to think of it this way. A lot of the time bad beats are actually bad play rewarded. Especially with
A,A or K,K. Really they are the only hands you should be getting it all in pre flop. A lot of the time people call all in reraises with anything from middle to low pairs A,K suited or os, A,Q and the like. When they get lucky and crack you they then think they can actually play well. Of course their luck will eventually run out but it is always someone else who traps them. the other thing to consider is to sometimes limp in early position with a monster hand hope someone else raises then get em all in and you might only be up against one fish not 2 or 3. Risky I know but you then have a chance to minimize your loss if no one does raise and you have a few callers

#15 DewaJuned, 20 Nov 10 12:22

"Stop" thats the "key" if im gonna bad beat n back after refresh :D
Thx great article

#16 phidelity, 27 Dec 10 12:13

One of the best articles.

#17 DouglasQuaid, 19 Jan 11 01:04

I think If I had a picture of my self, and had to look at it after bad beat, I'd rip it in a moment. :)
Anyway, it's a good article, but it takes practice like everything else.
The problem with bad beat or just plain bad play is that you destroy something in hours or days for what you've been working for months and that frustrates a lot. You need to think about that when starting doing stupid things.
The strategy should be:
When winning try to win as much as possible, when loosing try to loose as less as possible.
I'm a player that hasn't mastered that yet... but if I do that that will make me a good player.

#18 dr3amscape, 03 Apr 11 17:36


#19 stefanbuhlert, 11 Jun 11 08:57

so und nicht anders!!!

#20 RRRobert, 28 Jun 11 06:56

LooooLL Bad Beat=Tilt= 0 Bankrool (too me)

#21 Pouserly2, 12 Aug 11 08:59

so und nicht anders!!!

LooooLL Bad Beat=Tilt= 0 Bankrool (too me)

#22 diatonicide, 20 Aug 11 20:19

excellent article, you have mentioned many of my tendancys here. The problem i find is when your under the spell of tilt you hardly realise your playing badly, then you review your hand history and puke. great mention will give somke concepts a go

#23 ttetti90, 29 Aug 11 12:22

this article is f**king good. Well done.

#24 Benm473, 02 Oct 11 00:51

I like Daniel Negreanus tip for this load up a freeroll or 1 dollar tourney lol and just go all in on anything you want or play crap cards out of position, until eventually lighter side comes out and you can return to normal

#25 SPeedFANat1c, 31 Oct 11 09:26

the problem with going out if sesion goes bad is that you then not put good volume. But some people say that volume is very important, because the variance is huge. So I myself I thought learned to not care if I am losing, and still play, but for now past 23K hands - the graph is going down and doesn't stop. So I now try againg to stop when I run bad.

#26 JazBenz, 04 Sep 13 22:08

This article is indeed great! Today this thing happened to me where I was unconsciously so much on tilt I couldn't make important folds anymore. But I stopped before the damage to my bankroll got even bigger. I will start to become more aware and look at myself from an outside perspective after a bad beat. I think it's important to observe your mind and not directly identify with all the negative thoughts it will produce automatically after bad runs. I will step back, look at what my mind has to say and observe them without judgement and then step back and leave.