How to avoid playing on tilt, and how to get over a bad beat


Everyone gets a bad beat. And almost everyone ends up playing on tilt. It’s very hard to get over it, so I’m going to suggest a number of steps you can take to get over it fast and minimize your losses. The ideal way of getting over it is to walk away from the game immediately for 2-3 days, but I realize that is highly unlikely because you just “want” to make it back, what you just lost and what just took you two to three hours to build up. Here are some suggestions on how to get over it, make sure you don’t lose more, and how to make it back.

1. Get up immediately and go have something to eat. Chances are you are playing poorly because you have been sitting there for 3 hours straight without a break, waiting for your ‘big score’, only to have had your stack size severely cut down. Probably you made an anxious move because you were getting hungry. So get up, have a sandwich/piece of fruit/whatever, as long as you get away from the table for 20-30 minutes.

2. Realize it’s part of the game and see the bigger picture. If you just lost that much of a significant amount — that it makes you feel bad, chances are you have been playing with too much money. Especially if you are playing online. You need to learn how to “walk” away when you are ahead, and come back another day (or go to another table). I was playing in a casino once (actually a few times :)) and noticed this one guy who was always at the tables, but would only play 2-3 hours a day. He was playing the limit 5-10 games, and basically he would play until he was up $100-$200, and then he would leave the table. You need to learn to leave when you are ahead, and then come back to the table with a smaller stack. For example, let’s say you are three times the buy-in, and up $400 (i.e., you have $600 at a $200 table). If you keep playing, just statistically (unless you are an exceptionally good player) — you are eventually going to make a mistake and lose at least half your stack, if not all of it. (I.e., you might decide to go all-in with AA vs someone who say has JJ — and then they spike a third jack cleaning you out). You should walk away from the table, cash out the “bonus” $400 you’ve made — and then buy-in at $200. This way — you’ve covered your “investment” (“your” $200), you’ve “made” $200, and now you are playing with a “free” $200. Now, if you say had AA and someone beat you with JJJ, you wouldn’t feel too bad — because you could buy-in again, and not have lost anything. It’s only when you keep playing and have a huge stack, that eventually you may just make one wrong read — but that is all it takes — and all your hard work is gone over the last 2-3 hours is gone. Once you have had a really bad beat once or twice, you’ll learn that playing like this is a much better strategy.

3. If you have a sore neck, if you are tired, if you start swearing or yelling, seriously, it is time to walk away from the “game”. You need to remember that it is just a “game”. Yes, it is really nice winning a wad of cash. And yes, it is nice winning period. But if your health suffers because of your playing, all you are going to be using that money for is health bills. Is it really worth it to say have made $1,000 — but then need to use a neck brace, or pay for (regular) back massages because you’ve played for 5 days non-stop and are sore? (This is especially true of online players, because you can play from dusk to dawn in your pajamas and not move once). I know it is hard to walk away at this point — but you need to do it. Just remember that. Because if you don’t, you’ll find you very quickly lose another 2-3 times you original buy-in — and if you felt bad before, now you’ll feel really bad.

Prevention is the best medicine/Conclusions:

To prevent yourself from getting in the situation where you have a “really” bad beat (and only maybe have small ones, which are a lot easier to cope with), do the following:

1. Make sure you eat enough (every 2-3 hours), and that you get an adequate amount of sleep. (Sure, you can play at a casino or online for 5-6 hours straight, but don’t spend 20 hours with no breaks).

2. When you win big — go to a different table and pocket the difference. That way, if you ever do “lose” big on an all-in (whether you misread someone or they just made a stupid, but lucky, play) — then you won’t lose too much, and you can keep playing. It’s only when you play with a huge stack that it becomes very dangerous. No longer can you really take AA vs whatever preflop all-in risks, because someone can spike a third card to make a set. It’s (sadly) happened many times to me, where I had KK, and someone hit a straight with JJ, and AA has been broken (by an idiot that called 8-3 all-in).

3. Try to remember, part of the game actually is gambling, and you might lose no matter how good you are . It is a game of skill, but it is also a game of luck, and gambling is involved. When you see all the cards on the table — it can be straight math to figure out who has the absolute best hand. But preflop betting, all-in lotteries and straight and flush chases are gambles.

4. Don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose. If you can’t lose it, then don’t play with it. Otherwise it makes the bad beats and tilt that much worse.

5. And have fun! Hopefully, that is why you are playing poker! (Also to make a few extra dollars on the side! :))

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