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Poker Tilt Control with Logic Statements


Sky Matsuhashi

on July 23, 2015

We all know that the variance in poker is something you can't control, but what you can control is how you react to the negative variance you encounter.  Having a good attitude towards variance will help you deal with the inevitable ups and downs that come with playing poker.

Logic statements are one of the tools that I use, pre-session and mid-session, to keep tilt at bay and to stay on my A-game (or at least avoid my C-game).  Using logic statements is a key part of controlling poker tilt within Jared Tendler's timeless poker strategy book, The Mental Game of Poker.

Logic Statements

In my pre-session warm-up, I always have two or three logic statements I say to myself in preparation for the session.  These are statements that are crafted to inject logic into my thinking and to help me get past negative emotions.  I include these in my pre-session warm-ups to get me in the correct, positive mindset for the session.  One logic statement I constantly use and can be applied to almost every session of poker is:

It's necessary that bad players suck out on occasion as this keeps them in the game and makes poker profitable.

While playing the session, something may happen that could make me have thoughts like:

  1. ‘That's so unfair!  My AA should never lose to JTo.'
  2. ‘Damn it, sucked out on again by this FISH!'
  3. ‘I don't care what it takes, I'm getting my money back from this guy.'

The statements above are illogical, and I know I shouldn't have them as they'll just lead to going on full blown tilt.  Logic statements get you beyond these negative thoughts and get you back to thinking correctly about poker and the negative variance you can encounter.  Use something like this:

It's okay that he sucked out on me, as his play with that hand is a losing play in the long run and I'll surely win in the long run versus these players.

I have a lot of statements like the one above written down in my poker journal (get my free 21-page Poker Journal here) and I always have it open to my logic statements page during each session I play.  I'll sometimes encounter tilt-inducing situations where I suddenly stop thinking, begin to feel anger, direct my anger at specific opponents and say “f— you” to my computer screen.  When I find myself in this spot, I take a few deep breaths and read a couple of my logic statements.  This usually helps me to cool down rather quickly and to stay away from my C-game.

Types of Tilt and Logic Statements to Combat Each

Jared Tendler lists 7 different types of tilt, and we all are susceptible to at least one of these (I'm really effected by three myself: running bad tilt, injustice tilt and entitlement tilt).  Here are the types of tilt and some poker logic statements you can use for each.

Running Bad Tilt

This is a form of accumulated tilt that gets worse over time.  When you're 2-3 buy-ins down, it might not be so bad.  But after a few days or weeks of running bad and being down double-digits in buy-ins, one can go on tilt super quickly at the drop of hat.  These statements help me:

I can't control how I run in the short-term, but it's the long term that matters.

I'm a long-term winner, so I know I'll get past this soon and get back to my winning ways.

Injustice Tilt

When you can't believe that “these crappy players” keep beating you no matter what they play with or how good your starting hand is, you're suffering from injustice tilt.  You feel ultra unlucky, and you're being dealt bad beat after bad beat, and your terrible opponents keep getting rewarded for bad play.  These statements help me:

I can handle negative variance, as I know it has to occur in order to make poker profitable.

I can't control the cards I'm dealt, but I can control how I play the cards.  As long as I'm making good decisions, I can stomach what comes of the plays I make and that of my opponents.

Entitlement Tilt

You suffer from entitlement tilt if you believe that you deserve to win because you're a better player: that your studying, hard work or discipline means you should win over all your opponents.  Statements to help:

My studying, skills and discipline will win out for me in the long run.

Bad players need to win occasionally to make this a profitable pursuit.

Hate-Losing Tilt

For those who hate to lose, try to win every hand or think they should win every MTT or SNG they play, hate-losing tilt is a problem of yours.  You can't accept variance or losing money, and anything other than good variance is unacceptable.  This logic statement should help:

Negative variance only affects me if I let it.  I'm committed to playing my best regardless of what the cards bring me.

Mistake Tilt

We're all learning to become better poker players, and of course mistakes are a part of learning.  If you let mistakes get to you and throw you into your C-game, then you know this is one of your tilt issues.  Statements to help:

Mistakes happen, a bigger mistake is letting this one turn into more by going into my C-game.

Losing does not equal bad play.

Revenge Tilt

When you feel the need to get back at one single player who beat you, and it consumes you and blinds you to the hands you play or the position you're in against him, then revenge tilt is an issue.  Statements to help:

Focus on the easiest targets at the table, and only play in good situations vs them.

Don't rationalize bad play in order to get into hands with a good target.  Good play always, in good situations is of utmost importance.

Desperation Tilt

If you find yourself chasing lost money by buying-in to more games or moving up in stakes to win your money back, then you've hit desperation tilt.  This form of tilt can lead to incredible bankroll downswings, so it's a key one to tackle if you suffer from it.  Logic statement:

As soon as I hit my stop loss for the session, I'll end it.  No exceptions.

There are many ways to address tilt issues, and keeping good logic statements ready at hand is an easy and surefire way to keep you in the right mindset.

Please let me know what logic statements you use for poker tilt control in the comments below.  I'm always looking for more ways I can avoid tilt.

Make your next session the best one yet!


Sky Matsuhashi

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