Try not to find excuses to play badly. If you find yourself reasoning with yourself as you push all your chips to the centre that the other guy is probably bluffing and your pair of twos can take him, take a step back, have a drink and say to yourself: “I’m tilting!”
The phrase “tilting” is taken from the world of pinball, where players who have lost yet another ball tilt the machine in order to try and get the ball back in play. This also happens to poker players after a bad beat (where someone gets lucky on the river and beats their quad aces with a royal flush!) and they try and win their money back by playing stupid hands.
Go all in when you have to
When playing tournaments and you’re down to quite a small amount of chips, think about going all in. To make the point clearer, here’s an example:
Let’s say I’m in an online tournament and we’re down to two people. My opponent has 3000+ chips and I have 940. The stakes are about to be raised to 300/600 (300 for the small blind, 600 for the large blind), so in about two hands time I’m going to be out of chips whether I want to play or not. I go all in with a Jack, six unsuited (something that should never be done under normal circumstances!). He calls, because (a) he has plenty of chips, (b) my chips didn’t hit the 1000 mark and so no 1k chip is on the table (this chip has an amazing ability to make people run away), (c) he knows its my last attempt at getting some chips back and he thinks (or knows??) that I’m tilting.
Anyway, he has something like king, jack, and the flop reveals three ‘nothing’ cards. It’s the same with the turn, and it looks like he’s going to win with king high card, when the river reveals a six. I win nearly two thousand chips with a lowly pair of sixes. This evens out the playing field and he now tilts because I win with a lucky river card!
I’d love to finish this story by saying that I won, but if I remember correctly he went on to win a place in a $50,000 final and I got a pop up window saying “Your position: 2nd.”
Poker isn’t fair
Well, actually it is, but it will seem like it isn’t many times. Statistics prove that if a group of poker players play for an infinite amount of time they will all have the same amount of chips at the end. But no poker game lasts an infinite amount of time, and even a lifetime doesn’t scratch the surface of infinity, so people will seem to have lucky and unlucky streaks. These lucky streaks can be explained by way of another example.
Say you toss a coin ten times. In theory it should land heads up 5 times, and tails the other five. But it will probably be more like 8 heads and two tails, because the amount of coin flips is so small that probability doesn’t get a chance to show its face. Now do it a thousand times and probability will win out and it will be much closer, more like 55:45. It’s the same with poker. A poker game is equivalent to the ten coin tosses. The game is so short that the probability of discrepancies in the predicted card pattern are very high. So one guy could get all the good hands and another guy could get nothing but garbage all night!
The trick is to not let yourself get dragged into a situation where you lose money because of this. If you’re on a losing streak, go home. Maybe tomorrow, you’ll be the one with four aces every hand!