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The Tilt and burnout in poker

@Top1Percent

Tilt and burnout in poker

Am I on tilt or burnout? And how do I recover?

Mindset is an essential pillar of every poker player. But there is no exception: everyone, even the best in the field, sooner or later suffers from tilt or burnout.
But first of all: what are these two terms and what is the difference between them? Also, why do they happen to anyone? Can I recover?
Let’s go explore more about tilt and burnout in poker and find out how to defend ourselves and counterattack when our mind prevails–in a negative way!

The tilt in poker

Tilt is when we enter an emotional state that interferes with our ability to make decisions to the best of our ability.
Usually triggering the tilt is just some event at the green table, such as an unlucky hand, many unlucky hands, or even an opponent we can’t beat or … who insulted us in chat.
In addition to these, it can also be external events that trigger a tilt, any situation in the player’s daily routine that suddenly impacts his or her game in a negative way.
Tilt manifests itself in a multitude of ways, not just the most common “getting upset about a blowout and playing much more aggressively.”
This certainly is dangerous. The tilted player wants to make up for his losses and increases aggressiveness and risk seeking “revenge,” exposing his side to even more frequent and abundant losses.
However, there are those who completely the opposite way, perhaps knocked down by bad luck that just wasn’t wanted, begin to close in and play much tighter, fold too often and really lose a lot of EV.
Another kind of tilt is that which leads to overthinking, to overarticulating the hand by setting too many levels of thinking and distracting too much from the correct way to play it.

How to defend against tilt

If we want to prevent tilt, the best approach is to cultivate one’s mental aspect a lot.
Exercise, good quality sleep, healthy diet, meditation, and lots of other ways to be as cool and serene as possible, decreasing irritability and stress.
Good self-analysis skills are essential to understand, before starting the session, whether we are really ready to endure the worst-case scenario, or even simply whether we feel mentally fit enough.

The timing at which an action is taken can be a tell

How to recover from tilt in poker

Sometimes it is not enough to prevent, and as in the most classic of sayings you have to cure, even though it is worse.
The “worse” comes from the fact that every play made on tilt is equivalent to a loss in the long term view, and if we are on tilt it means that we have already played hands suboptimally. That they may have gone well for us is another matter; it does not justify anything.
The first step, then, must necessarily be to learn to recognize when we are on tilt, which is less easy than it may seem.
One piece of advice is to question yourself and understand how tilt usually manifests itself, and what triggers it. At that point we must learn to activate a mental mechanism, a kind of alarm bell that leads us to ask ourselves, “Am I on tilt?” whenever one of the above situations occurs. Needless to say, it is essential to be true to oneself, as not being true to oneself in this case is tantamount to losing money.

Taking note

When you realize you are on tilt, the best advice is to take a break, no running away. There are bound to be other ways, but this is the safest because it keeps you from doing nonsense at the table.
Take your time to cool off, do something else, a walk, an episode of some TV show, and only when you feel okay can you go back and sit at the table.
Easy for cash gamers, but for MTT players? In tournaments you certainly can’t leave and come back whenever you want, so how to do that?
If your stack allows, a short break is good for you, too, perhaps after passing the BTN. Try some quick relaxation exercises that can be found online. You can count to 10 by breathing slowly and relaxing your whole body, and in the meantime commit yourself to realizing that what has been has been, and there is no point in it affecting your future.
Each poker hand is its own chapter, so no use getting upset because you were left with 15bb and you had 80bb before. Now is the time to play those 15bb in the best way, a situation you’ve been in many other times and know how to handle. Get into the same mindset!

Burnout in poker

The tilt is usually a passing episode that lasts a few minutes or a few hours, very sporadic cases where it lasts for days at a time.
The burnout on the other hand, is a condition that lasts over time, and in common with tilt it has only that it is an emotional state that leads to worse play.
One could translate “burnout” as no desire to play, as if poker had become a burden rather than a pleasure, a burden that causes suffering when faced.
Burnout is a typical situation for people who play a lot of poker, and it is a term and condition borrowed from the working world. It’s basically the mind telling you, “Take a vacation, we’re at the limit.”
You have played poker so much that you now need to think about something else, and your mind refuses to support you in your decision to play again.
When you sit down at the table, you realize you have difficulty being full focus on the tables, you lack motivation, you feel tired, perhaps pessimistic and even short-tempered with a tendency to tilt.
In the worst cases, burnout also takes effect off the table, in your daily life, with a lack of motivation and energy, neglect and little enthusiasm in general.

Feet can betray poker players

How to guard against burnout

Unfortunately, it is not easy to play preemptively with burnout; in fact usually one must first get burned and then heal the wound.
Perhaps the best way may be to learn to listen well to your body’s signals, and to know right away, at the slightest sign, that you are about to go into burnout and remedy it immediately, before you sit down at the table.
But basically even this is not preventive play; it is just an attempt to heal before entering a more advanced stage of burnout.

How to recover from poker burnout

To recover from poker burnout, the methods are very similar to those for tilt, but prolonged in time.
I mean, what do you do when you can’t work anymore? Go on vacation, and so it is with poker.
In fact, the best system is to unplug for a while until you come back nice and fresh and regenerated ready to start crossing cards with opponents again.
Depending on the severity of burnout, it may take more or less time, but in addition to recreation-necessary-there are some systems to speed up the process.
First of all do things, but that are completely unrelated to poker. Socialize, devote yourself to your hobbies pastimes and passions, read (not poker!), have fun without overloading your brain in any way.
All the advice given above (diet, exercise, sleep, meditation) is still very valid, and to tell the truth it always remains so, even for non-players.
However, you basically have to avoid tables for as long as you need to. So don’t put a deadline on your recovery and don’t force a comeback, but most importantly, don’t feel guilty if you don’t play.
You must come to terms with the fact that you only want to play poker when you feel like it, because otherwise you are losing money, or in the best case leaving handfuls of EVs on the street. So it is perfectly fine not to play if you are not yet fit, and it is not mandatory to start again tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
When you feel up to it, put your foot back on a table. And try not to overdo it right away. Open fewer tables than usual, perhaps at lower buy-in and for shorter sessions, that way you can figure out without too much risk whether you are really ready to get back in the game.

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