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StrategyWeekly No Limit

No tilt part 2



No Tilt part 2

from MiiWiin

Last week (to the article) we dealt with "tilting" and researched preventative activities. We focused especially on the preparation and the attitude as well as the table selection.

Today we are going to deal with the "down-rule" as well as the problems of the bankroll management and its affect on our tilt-behaviour. We will also deal with some other factors.


If you are aware that you are in danger of tilting, it often helps to set a limit on your losses. If you reach this limit you simply leave the tables.

This doesn't have anything to do with swings: "Its not my day today, I am very unlucky..." doesn't count.

If you are capable of controlling tilt, you can obviously abstain from this rule. But who says that they don't tilt at all?

A 3-stack down-rule is reasonable in my opinion. Even though this sounds very conservative, I take this rule to heart although I don't tilt easily. If I lose more than 3 stacks in one session I simply quit the session!

The question is not whether I actually play bad or whether I am just unlucky. I could obviously run into aces with my kings in the first hand or lose set over set or lose with top two in an unraised pot against a straight. I could thoroughly be convinced that I played the hands right. I know that these hands were tough set ups or bad beats. Clearly I can't do anything about that, I know this is part of poker.

The question I ask myself is: How do I lose the fourth or fifth stack? Do I still play my A-game in the fourth decision if I was very unlucky three times even though I played correctly? Am I influenced by the fact that I have lost 3 stacks already? Do I start overplaying marginal situations? Do I force my luck? What's wrong with dividing the session to analyse the hands again and start to play again later with a clear head?

It is tough to play your A-game after these beats. Maybe it isn't an obvious tilt either. Tilt could be engaging in marginal preflop decisions which would have been a lot different with a clear head. Suddenly you find yourself in hard situations and the stack is depleted again.

So many times you hear people saying how unlucky they were in their session. They add their hands to the discussions and realise that the last stack was probably lost because of tilt. This self-knowledge should alert you at the latest. If I lose one stack per week due to tilt, how does this affect my win rate? I don't want to go through any mathematical examples. Anyone could calculate that for themselves. Shouldn't we do everything to avoid these situations?

If you recognise some similarities in your game that sessions which started with 3 lost stacks, finished with another two stacks lost, the application of this rule might be worth it.

However this rule doesn't only keep you safe during a session. It will give you some security before the session as well. Many times we have read posts of people who lost 10 stacks in one session and are now paralysed.

I don't believe that a 10 stack downswing is only due to very bad luck anyway because peoples play differs from their A-game after having lost this many stacks and their concentration will have dropped too. I don't have this problem because I make use of the down-rule.

Not because I think I am a great player or because I think I am not affected by tilt. It is because I simply quit after three stacks!

I know from the beginning: The worst thing that could happen is loosing a bit more than three stacks (mathematically it is possible to lose more than three stacks because I only leave the tables after having lost more than three stacks).

Theoretical thoughts about the danger of loosing a big chunck of my bankroll don't exist. It is a kind of self-protection which helps me personally

Furthermore you won't be tempted to make a tilt call after having lost one stack for example. Lets assume I have only lost two hands up till now but I can already feel the anger inside of me. I know if I lose another stack now, I have to quit the session. I see it as a kind of punishment. Quitting a session after only a couple of hands is not a nice thing for me (but a necessary one). I would therefore never put my third stack at careless risk. I am forced to play my A-game! If I am not able to continue playing my A-game the rule applies and I leave the tables to quit the session.

If players recognise this problem in their own game, I can only suggest trying it once. If you have to quit your session due to a small tilt, you don't want it to happen again.


Bankroll management (BRM) is one of the basic prerequisites to become a professional poker player. The best poker abilities are no use if you go broke because you have invested all your money on one coin flip and lost. Of course it is mostly not that bad, but I think this does happen quite frequently to some extent.

We don't want to deal with any mathematics but look at how the BRM is connected to tilt. A common advice is: Anyone who tilts a lot should have a very conservative BRM. This statement is most definitely not wrong, but not as general as you think.

We are assuming a normal tilt in this case which could have to anyone. I can't advise everybody here to have a 50 stack BRM hoping that everyone will be free of tilt.

Clearly everyone understands that loosing a stack with a conservative BRM is less painful than loosing one stack with an aggressive BRM. The question you have to ask yourself is: Does my BRM influence my decisions at the table?

The differences between a conservative and an aggressive BRM are obvious: With an aggressive BRM I quickly move up in limits if I run good, but have to move down just as fast if I lose a couple of stacks. Many players can't deal with this mentally because they think it is a personal defeat to move down one limit. With a conservative BRM you need much longer to move up in limits, but you can also play longer on these limits and survive a downswing.

So which one is better? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If I am on a large downswing with an aggressive BRM, I have to move down in limits pretty quickly. If I am on a downswing with the conservative BRM on a higher limit this would cost me a lot more. Do I become more resistant to tilt if I have a 10 stack down on the higher limit?

Furthermore you run the risk of not valuing your stacks any more. For example if you have a 50 stack BRM you could lose a couple of stacks in a short time without thinking about it too much. You think that you have enough. You tell yourself that even if you are on tilt it doesn't cost much. You legitimize loosing one or more stacks just like that. Eventually that's what you have the conservative BRM for. However is this thought correct?

The correct way would be to have a BRM which you think you won't go broke with, can rise in limits with and also go down in limits with. You shouldn't play over rolled too long and definitely not under roled. If you think that your BRM influences your game, you have to figure out in which way it does that. What increases the risk of tilting? If you know that the stack is very precious or if you think that you have enough of it anyways? Maybe you tilt less if you know that every lost stack is worth twice as much. Or maybe you need the security of having a lot of stacks.

There is no general answer to these questions. Every player has to ask these questions themselves.

Just one more thing: Doesn't it decrease the risk of tilting if we combine an aggressive BRM and the down-rule so that we know that we can't lose more than three stacks in one session and at the same time know that every stack is very valuable and shouldn't be risked in unprofitable situations?


It should actually be pretty self explanatory, but unfortunately many players are enticed to flaming to much in the chat. After a couple of bad beats and comments from opponents they explode and start flaming.

They insult each other and try to take the Mickey out of the opponents to distinguish themselves. I have seen so many players compare their win rates on certain limits just to show how good they are.

Is it good if every player knows that you are a winning player? Why can't you leave the fish to be a fish? Do you have to insult him and basically force him to leave the table to make room for a TAG?

Do I have to show him his mistakes just to make him a thinking player?

Do I have to insult a TAG because he hit a lucky card that I would have played differently? In poker the question of which actions are +EV is of interest to us. Is it +EV to tilt in the chat? Do I get an advantage from that?

Furthermore how would the player concentrate on his other tables and his A-game if he is engaging heavily in the chat? He couldn't! Nobody can tell me that they flame in the chat and play their A-game at the same time. Anyone who flames is tilting and not able to reach concentrated and sound decisions.

How can we avoid this? We either turn the chat off completely or don't write anything apart from the occasional "nh" or a friendly "hello". Anyone who notices them breaking this rule should use a more consistent measure. Our goal is to avoid tilt. You should therefore turn off the chat completely and play poker.


As long as your are sure that you are playing well you are more capable of dealing with swings to avoid tilting. What do you do if you are not sure though? Everyone knows the following things, but I have to mention them:

  • 1. Evaluation of hands

    Let others evaluate your hands if you are unsure. You could even go one step further and save all your tilt hands to put them on the forum. Let others tell you how many bad tilt calls you made. You can then consider to stop posting hands and continue tilting or to stop tilting because you would be "punished" otherwise.

  • Is it a disadvantage if other players see your bad hands? No! Both you and the others will learn from it. You don't have to prove anything to anyone. You want to play poker successfully. This will involve a lot of time, and even cost some effort sometimes.
  • 2. Recording videos

    Record a video and put it online. Do take the critics seriously. If you recorded a video and played bad, you should definitely put it online!

  • 3. Let someone watch you playing

    Letting others watch you play is another good possibility. No matter who watches you, simply the fact that you have to explain your moves helps to uncover your hidden tilt moves. Maybe you would even start to play completely different which actually might suit you better. This of course should be implemented in the sessions you are playing alone as well!


Cahsouts could further prevent you from tilting. People quickly feel bad if they think that everything they worked so hard for is at risk because they can already see themselves go broke. The fact that you will have learnt a lot in this time is ignored. The only thing that counts is the bankroll and if it shrinks the self-convidence shrinks as well.

Cash out some money and buy something nice. Preferably something that you always see when you are playing poker. Maybe a new monitor, a new keyboard ( this probably stops you from smashing it ). You will instantly know that you are a winning player because you only bought these things because you made the money player poker.


Everyone should try to ask himself whether some of these arguments actually apply to them. In reality most of the players have already overcome these experiences - they are part of the daily poker life. Maybe there are a couple of things which help you play more self confidently in the future to focus more on your A-game. If this is the case, there'll be hardly anything in the way of a successful poker career.


Comments (10)

#1 8412king, 28 May 08 08:22

I agree and think it is a great article. But a lot of my winnings come from hands I played after some unlucky hands I have had earlier at a table. My best table-image is when people do believe I am on tilt and I can get a lot of value from my big hands. But still these situation need a lot of self-control.

#2 davidangel, 09 Sep 08 05:49

I like how blunt you write.
It takes a certain "inner honesty" to recognize when one is mad. More so to look further within to see that only by thinking like a loser is actual losing made possible. Thus the act of "tilting" begins long before the proverbial "straw" that makes you shout fuck and all that. How soon you recognize this is mostly dependant on how aware you are. How soon you get off the tilt-o-coaster is mostly dependant on...

#3 Rap1d007, 11 Oct 08 20:28

Great article, easy to read...

#4 mouse89, 14 Oct 08 15:50


#5 Patea, 26 Sep 09 06:46

Nice article. I normally try to avoid tilting and think I'm succeeding quite fairly... However, how do I know whether I'm really not tilting when I'm only judging myself? I guess time will tell as I get more and more experienced!
There's just one factor of online tilting I want to share here:
The other day I was playing a $2 SitNGo at MansionPoker. It was early stage and I was sitting on the BB with A9s (clubs). Blinds were 20/40. I had 1700 chips. Everyone folded and action was passed to the button. He raised to 200. SB called, and I called.
The flop came Kc 10c 2d. SB and I both checked. The button raised 500. SB called, and I also called. The turn card was 5c. SB checked. I hit my nut flush, and thought I'll slow-play - I checked! The button went ALL IN. SB folded. I immediately clicked at the "ALL IN" button and... NOTHING HAPPENED!!! I had been disconnected!!!
When I eventually reconnect again, I was so mad, I went ALL IN with JTo and crashed out, naturally! (lol)
My point here is, there are lots of factors that can cause one to tilt (as if you don't know it already.) In online poker, bad connection is a very big factor and it's happened to me and my friends a number of times. Hope I can get over this...

#6 gadget51, 17 Nov 09 21:54

The most common form of tilt is from suckouts. To learn how to control this tilt, try micro limit FR FL! You will at least become immune to this particular form of tilt after a (very short) while! Lol

#7 peanutter, 22 Nov 09 12:51

I really enjoyed this article and the down-rule in particular. It sounds really useful especially when I can't admit to myself that I'm on tilt after losing 5-10 buy-ins. A very nice read.

#8 Hahaownedlolz, 22 Nov 09 18:22

nasty bad beat patea. but you didn't get the right price to call with a flush draw.. calling 1/3 of your stack with only a 25% to win is not a good decision..

Great article, but it doesn't help me much since i already follow brm, have read most of the psychology articles already and i play MTT so i lose 3 stacks very often even bust 5 times in a row and then start cashing and end up with profit because it takes so long to cash.

#9 AdamLaw33, 09 Mar 10 14:35

yeah tilting of anysort sucks... we try .

#10 Pouserly2, 17 Aug 11 20:14

Great article, but it doesn't help me much since i already follow brm, have read most of the psychology articles already and i play MTT so i lose 3 stacks very often even bust 5 times in a row and then start cashing and end up with profit because it takes so long to cash.