A couple months ago, I noticed that I didn’t really get on tilt anymore. I play a lot of low-limit poker because, here in Seattle, mid-limit tables just aren’t always available. As we all know, suck-outs are the norm at low limit… however, I had gotten really good at shrugging these off, congratulating the player holding the winning cards, and continuing to play my game– secure in the knowledge that good play wins the money over time. (And besides, if the bad players didn’t drag a pot now and then they’d stop playing!)
Tonight, though… tilt. Lots of tilt. Tilt-a-riffic. It was the kind of tilt that legends are made of.
I’ve had a bad run the last few days with pocket aces. This is going to sound like an exaggeration, but I had lost literally 12 times in a row with a couple aces in my hand. (Not 12 hands in a row, I mean the last 12 times that I was dealt pocket aces I lost the hand on the turn or river.) This is just one of those things that isn’t supposed to happen, but there it was.
The 10th time I was a little frustrated (especially since I had flopped a set and was literally pouring chips into the pot trying to protect my hand, and the guy caught one of his four outs to make a strait on the river.) The 11th put me on a mild tilt, and by the 12th I was a goner. I started doing all the standard tilt activities… playing too many hands, chasing draws without proper pot odds, etc. You know the drill.
It wasn’t just the aces– I was constantly losing with sets, top-two pair, straits falling to flushes filled on the river, etc. I was doing my best to protect these hands, but the drunkards at the table were happy to cold-call 2 and 3 bets with even the weakest of hands/draws.
2 hours (and $400 in chips) later, I got up from the table for a bathroom break, and had a little conversation with myself…
Q: Why am I on tilt?
A: Because these jackasses keep catching their impossible 2 and 4 outers and runner-runners to beat my great hands.
Q: Is that really it?
A: No. I’m frustrated because I’m letting it bother me and knock me off my A game… and my play is getting worse and worse.
Q: Should I go home? Can I salvage the situation?
A: I think I can play right. I’ll try one more hour and see if I’m still not playing well I’ll head out.
I sat back down (I had only missed 2 early position hands!) and did my hour of playing my “A game.”
At the end of the hour, I had gone from being stuck $400 to being only about $120 behind. I was playing well (despite the occasional suck-out) and had overcome my tilt.
In the end, it was a +$240 session. I kept getting some lousy cards, and could tell a half dozen bad-beat stories that occurred during my late-night comeback… but I had overcome my tilt, and eked out a winning session. (Although my hourly rate sucked pretty bad– I was there for about 10 hours!)
This is the first time I’ve tilted off a lot of chips like that in months… and I’m not proud of it.