Thou shalt not tilt at the poker table



Editor’s note: This is one in a series.

In my past two columns, I covered the importance of preparation and touched on the concept of edge in the great skill game of poker. This month, the third commandment of poker is Thou Shalt Not Tilt.

Before we get started, let’s define tilt. Tilt is anything less than your best. You must come to grips with this. Please reread the definition. Again, if you’re off your best game then tilt is occurring. It’s irrelevant if your child is sick and you’re distracted, if your aces just got cracked or you had a few drinks. When you drive home tonight, winner or loser, recall your session.

Were there any lapses of judgment? If so, you must admit, “I did not play my best,” therefore you experienced tilt. It’s my job as your poker coach to tilt-proof you and make sure you conquer this often misunderstood part of the game. The “A” player who doesn’t fully get this is really a “B” player, but don’t bother trying to explain that to him; it will just put him on tilt.

Often, players speak of tilt in terms of anger. Tilt is not anger. It’s quite possible to be upset about an on- or off-the-table event and not allow this event to affect your judgment. Mastering this will get you well on your way to increasing your hourly earn rate.

When your brain is on tilt, you’re not aware of the phenomena also known as “muddled brain syndrome,” a Mark Brement trademark. For one reason or another, you’re not breathing right. This is what happens when one is stressed. If the player’s stress is the result of an on-the-table event, then the player on tilt has an irrational perception of reality. Recently, a student lamented on his bad run. However, five minutes before hand he was telling me about a great streak that had occurred before the losses. Many great poker players and athletes alike have slumps. Quite often, there are off-the-table events that cause erosion in performance. Sometimes a catastrophic error is known as a “choke.” This is a form of tilt.

I look at my job as getting the tilt out of your game. I’m almost certain your win rate with A-K under the gun is every bit as good as mine. But here are a few tidbits to keep you off tilt:

• Exercise before play levels out breathing, lowers heart rate and helps keep you off tilt.

• Prepare and remember: Luck favors preparation. (See my February 2014 column on

• Don’t drink and play. Alcohol will hurt your overall earn rate. Trust me.

• Hire a coach; I will increase your hourly win rate by20 percent.

— Email Mark Brement at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine