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Evaluating How Much Tilt Can Cost

November 6, 2019
by PokerStarsSchool

In the first part of this series we took a look at which forms of tilt exist and which events can cause tilt with some players. Today, I’ll try to evaluate how much tilt can cost you (how big of a damage it can cause), and I’ll try to give you a few tips how to react when you start feeling the signs of tilt too.

How much does tilt cost?

I have a good friend who is a winning Spin & Go player but is prone to tilt. When I saw some weak moves from him – where he got it all in with very weak hands – I asked him why did he play this way. He replied that sometimes he gets a bit tilted. For him this means that in the current games he’s playing he moves all in no matter which hand he has! But he says it’s not a big deal because this helps him get it out of his system, so he can continue the session with his best game. Okay… let’s assume that this is right (this could be a stretch) and take a look at how much this ‘solution’ costs him.

My friend plays on 2-3 tables at the same time. In Spin & Go, an average winning regular can earn 50-60 chips per game. The game starts with 500 chips, so if you have to win back around  1000-1200 chips to compensate for the losses caused by  tilt, you’ll be playing roughly 20 extra games for no reason!

Even if you play multiple tables, it’s about an hour of gametime. In this example I mentioned my  friend is working one hour for free because of these few seconds of luxury, which helps him stop tilting. If you calculate 4-5 hours of gametime a day, this innocent looking mistake can get rid of 20-25% of your performance for the day. If it happens twice a day, it might take away half the profit.

What’s the situation with cash games? Let’s see an average winning regular, who has a winrate of 2BB/100 at his own stake. This means that he is earning 2 big blindsoin average after every 100 hands played. If he plays 2000-3000 hands daily, he’ll earn 40-60 big blinds. This is less than the amount a player is sitting on the table with. Usually the buyin is 100 big blinds or more, so if it happens to him that he loses his whole stack because of tilt at any of the tables, than he will burn more money than his expected daily profit. Cash games are extremely tilt-sensitive. There are many breakeven or small losing cash game players who are only in this situation due to  tilting a little every now and then.

If you are prone to sudden but quickly passing tilt you should probably be playing single table sit & go’s. This is probably the gametype that is the most forgiving when it comes to how much damage a single tilted mistake causes in the long term.

With multi-table tournaments it’s harder to give an estimate, seeing as it matters greatly which stage of the tourney you committed the mistake in. What is definitely true though is that on the final table you can practically lose multiple months of profits if that’s when you get tilted.

I know that the examples above aren’t definite But the point is that I’d like to let you know how much you spend on tilt overall.

If you are on tilt…

In today’s modern poker, tilting is simply a luxury. It’s a basic fact that you should avoid tilt if possible. Okay, but what should I do if I can’t? If you recognize the signs of tilt in your game you should quit playing! In cash games you can do it immediately. When you are playing Sit & Go or Spin & Go it’s also not difficult – you should finish the games you’re currently playing but refuse to open up any more.

I think that you can sit out in MTT’s for a few minutes. It’s much better to skip a few hands than to make a big mistake which can end your tournament. Sit out, stand up, take a walk, listen to your favourite song or do whatever it takes for you to break the habit of being on tilt. My own practice is that I call someone on the phone and speak with them for a few minutes about any non-poker topic. You can do all kinds of things to rid yourself of tilt, and you probably should, seeing as that’s how you can protect the rest of your game.


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