Avoiding Poker’s All-Too-Common Winner’s Tilt

A fellow online poker player recently told me that he believes he has “winner’s tilt”. He has a big win and subsequently goes on to play too many hands too aggressively.

Is this a form of tilt and what is winners tilt if it isn’t pure tilt?

In poker, tilt is all about anger

To me tilt is just about anger. In general, when people are talking about tilt they were talking about being angry. Yes, there are examples like winner’s tilt and others like that where tilt was brought up in too broad of a way.

It became this thing that was anything less than playing your best was “tilt”. It just becomes very difficult to solve a problem when it is so broadly defined.

When we talk about anger there’s a different strategy to solve anger and there’s a different strategy to solve “winner’s tilt” which, in general, is caused by over-confidence or fear.

This case may be overconfidence

My guess, given the aggressiveness of your play, is that it’s much more about overconfidence than it is about fear.

Typically, when winner’s tilt shows up with fear it means that the person is going to be much more protective about the money that they’ve won. They often book wins and try to quit their sessions early and play a lot tighter, trying not to get into even standard variance spots in order to preserve what they’ve won.

No matter what you do you think you’ll win

Whereas here, the overconfidence, in essence, expresses this idea that it doesn’t really matter what you do – you’re going to keep winning. Why would you play too many hands?  Why would you become too aggressive? The only reason that you would do that is because you naturally assume that by doing so you’re just going to make more money.

If you have a proven winning strategy that has limitations becoming too loose or too aggressive is actually negative value for you in the long run. That’s obviously problematic. Logically you wouldn’t do that so that’s where the subconscious or emotional driver of this comes in. The source of it is over-confidence so we have to target and correct that.

Lack of confidence in your poker game

Could it go the other way as well? Could it be the other end of a confidence issue an in a lack of confidence of your skill?

It could be the case of somebody who has a fear of success and they don’t know how to handle the money so they want to try and lose it so they can feel normal again.

I’ve yet to see a case of overconfidence that didn’t originate from some lacking of confidence. It really just depends on how deep you are ready to go. If you want to target the over-confidence, target the over-confidence. If the fear or lack of confidence seems to resonate with you then target that.

Not representative of you in life

A lot of the things that come out as issues for us in poker, in financial trading, in golf, or whatever, they’re not representative of us as a whole in life. They’re just a small slice of our hand range in a sense. Having that boastful side of us is really just reflective of the smaller pockets a lacking of confidence.

Sometimes that lacking of confidence can come from very very simple things like having high expectations. High expectations often shrink a person’s confidence because they’re not getting rewarded for things that they’ve earned.

Figuring out why you’re losing big after winning big is more important than semantics

Whether or not “winner’s tilt” is technically a form of tilt is secondary. The root of the issue is if winning makes you not play your best you need to figure out why. If winning feels foreign or uncomfortable then get up and leave the table. There’s never any harm in doing so, especially online when there’s no social pressure to stay at a table.

If you’re overconfident try to remember that last session where you turned a winning day into a loser in an instant. That should bring you back to reality.