It happens to every online blackjack player. The session takes a bad turn and frustration sets in. Before you know it you are beyond frustrated. You are mad. Even worse, as you get more upset the losses at the blackjack table continue to mount up. This occurrence is known in the poker world as going “on tilt” and it can spell doom for your bankroll. This article will explain what tilting is, the impact it can have on your game, how to recognize it, and how to overcome it. When you learn to stop tilting your online blackjack games will take a positive turn.
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What is Going On Tilt in Poker and Blackjack?
A few years ago there was a popular poker show in the United States called Poker After Dark. The show featured high stakes games between poker legends like Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, and Chris Ferguson. Phil Hellmuth, known by his nickname “Poker Brat”, often appeared on these programs. One episode pitted him against fellow pros Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak. It turned out to be a very bad night for Phil.
Phil Hellmuth is no stranger to blowups at the poker table. In particular, Esfandiari really seems to be able to push Phil’s buttons. You can watch their poker battles on YouTube but this night was something special. Early in the game Hellmuth encountered a bad run of cards and lost a significant portion of his chips. He was sitting in between Esfandiari and Laak at the table and when the two realized Phil was on the verge of a blow up they turned up the pressure.
Esfandiari would raise Phil’s big blind on each round, preventing the Poker Brat from seeing a flop for cheap. Laak would do the same when Phil was in the small blind. On and on it went until you could almost see the steam coming from Hellmuth’s ears. In frustration he simply blinded off his remaining chips and left in disgust.
This kind of behavior is called going on tilt. Tilting is probably called that because it means a player has veered far from a place of balanced emotion. Simply put, to get upset at the poker table is to lean toward disaster. The same kind of thing can happen in blackjack.
What Causes Blackjack Players to Tilt?
In Hellmuth’s case above, tilting was preceded by a bad run of cards. This is probably the number one reason that poker and blackjack players go on tilt. They lose a few hands in a row and suddenly they are dispirited.
Bad beats can also put players on tilt. In poker a bad beat is losing a hand that you should have won with ease. It happens when another player catches a miracle card on the river to beat you. In blackjack there is also a variety of a bad beat. It happens when the dealer draws out to beat your total. Let’s say you have 20 and the dealer turns over 16. He hits the hand and gets a 5 for a 21. This is called drawing out and it can send even the best players on tilt.
The behavior of other players can also cause you to go on tilt. If a player is being very obnoxious or rude, you may become irritable toward them. That irritability can cause you to go on tilt. Likewise, an ill-tempered dealer or one who takes pleasure in beating you hand after hand can sour your attitude.
Being tired can cause players to go on tilt. Sometimes you have simply played too many hours. Perhaps you are hungry. Maybe you have a headache. There is a long list of physical ailments that could send your emotions into a tailspin and bring your bankroll crashing down.
How to Recognize Being On Tilt
Thankfully, there are ways to recognize being on tilt while you are playing. Before we explain how to do that, let’s first clarify something important. Going on tilt does not just happen to those who play live poker and blackjack games. It can also happen to those who gamble online. The same rules apply for online players as well as live players.
One of the first signs of being on tilt is a victim mentality. If you suddenly start to feel like the dealer or other players are personally out to get you, this is a bad sign. This may be true sometimes but it is very rare. You may also begin to question whether or not the game is rigged. Be alert for these warning signs.
Another sign is the abandonment of your basic strategies. If you start playing hands in poker that you should not play or start hitting and standing in blackjack when you know that you should not, you might be on tilt. Money management strategies can also be affected. One of the worst things about being on tilt is the desire to recoup losses by making bigger bets.
Finally, losing interest in the game is another red flag. If the hands you play lose interest for you and do not compel you to make good decisions, you’re on tilt. In fact, bad decision making is a general sign of tilting.
Now that you know how to recognize being on tilt the challenge is to fix the problem. There are several ways you can do this and hopefully prevent disaster from sucking up your bankroll.
How to Fix Being on Tilt
Do you remember a movie called The Karate Kid? In that movie Mr. Miyagi advises his young student Daniel to return to the basic of life whenever he is upset—taking deep breaths. This is also a fix if you are in the beginning stages of tilt. Make an effort to breathe deeply and slow your heart rate. When you become agitated your breath gets shallow and your pulse quickens. Slowing things down will help.
Another way to handle tilting is to have something to eat or drink. This can break up the monotony and help you to focus. Just be sure that the drink you choose is not alcohol. That will only make tilting worse.
Many of you will understand this next fix as good old common sense. Get up from the table and take a break. You don’t have to leave the table, just sit out a few hands. Walk around and stretch your legs. Get your mind off the current game for a few minutes. If nothing else just take a walk to the restroom and splash some cold water on your face.
If none of these things are working, it may be time to call it a night. The ultimate fix for tilting is to simply quit the session and live to fight another day. If you manage to save your bankroll in the process, all the better. You will thank yourself the day after.
Tilting For Online Blackjack Players
A final word or two needs to be said about tilting for online blackjack players. There is one thing that makes going on tilt more likely for online players. They can play too long.
Playing blackjack online can be addictive. It is easy to let the hours slip by because people play online blackjack in comfortable environments like their home. They get caught up in the game and it becomes too routine. You need to make sure you are building in some downtime while playing online blackjack.
Taking breaks at blackjack online is easier than it is in the live casino. When you walk away from the table you don’t have to worry about having a spot available when you come back. You just log in once again to the online casino and play. You should limit your online blackjack sessions to a couple of hours at the most before you pause to take a break.
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