How To De-Tilt in the Short Term
Poker is an incredibly stressful game and has many highs and lows. This can be a very hard thing to deal with as a poker professional or hardcore amateur and a bad poker session can give you very big mood swings throughout the day. This article is about the short term things you can do to de-tilt yourself and make yourself feel better. This article will NOT address some of the core reasons why you feel the way you do after a loss and what you can do in terms of a long term fix for tilt, loss, and more. That is a topic for another article.
Here is the scenario: You just got done playing an 8 hour online poker cash session and you lost 7 buy ins. You are steaming and got sucked out on all day long. You played very poorly near the end of your session and you feel like you could run your fist through a wall. Does this sound like a familiar situation?
Professional poker players try to be as ‘zen’ as they can- dismissing the bad sessions as bad variance and being able to move past it quickly. While 90% of these bad sessions can be handled well, the other 10% can cause immense rage and anger in our lives. Both short and long term downswings can cause a lot of stress and can make it very hard on relationships. Here are some things I like to do when I am very stressed out and unhappy. All of these activities include getting OFF the computer, which is step 1 in any de-stressing situation.
Eat Good Food
Stress eating? Yeah, you bet. This could obviously have some very negative side effects and could be one of the reasons why many poker players are very unhealthy (in addition to sitting for very long hours, our work out routines are generally not consistent).
All that being said, one thing that really makes me feel better after a bad day is eating good food. Good food does not necessarily mean eat the biggest, fattest burger that you can find. Good food is just food that you really enjoy and food that will make you feel better. Whether that means sushi, or noodles, or a chicken sandwich, or even that greasy burger, go ahead and eat it- it will make you feel better.
Note- I am also noting that stress eating to the point of unhealthiness is not a good idea and that if this becomes a common theme where you find your only sense of relief and joy from eating unhealthy foods, this is something that is NOT healthy from an overall lifestyle standpoint. That being said, if it is only something you do in extreme situations (ie. when you are having a really bad day), I do not think it will hurt you. As with anything, moderation is key.
Exercising is a great activity to de-stress yourself and take your mind off poker. Not only does exercising provide endorphins and takes you away from the computer, but it also provides a positive effect on your body and health.
When you are stressed or burnt out on poker or angry, a hard workout can really make you feel better. Pushing all of your emotions into your workout will both increase the intensity (which will help you long term) and make you feel refreshed when you are done. After you get done with a 5 mile run, you can put the bad poker session behind you and move on.
Talk About It
Venting and talking about your bad session can be therapeutic for many poker players. Venting off the tables is much better than venting ON the tables and letting the tilt affect your actual play. This is why having a close group of poker friends can be very beneficial; not just for the strategy and improvement help, but for venting and releasing your stress. And fellow poker players know and understand the stress that comes with playing poker in a full time/serious manner and can relate with the feelings that you are feeling.
Significant others and friends can also help as well, but non poker players do not understand the stress involved with poker and thus have a hard time sympathizing. Regardless, it is good to talk about your feelings instead of bottling them up and having them explode on the poker tables (or elsewhere in your personal life).
Do Something Fun
The last suggestion is to do something fun and something you enjoy. Anything that will help take your mind off poker is beneficial (in most cases). Go out with your friends, go exercise, go do a hobby, go to the beach, go on a weekend trip, go to the bar or a date or a hike. There are infinite amount of options and the biggest thing to remember is to get off the computer.
It is important to remind yourself of why you play poker- presumably you are a long time winning player and poker is going to provide some benefits to your life (either extra money or a very flexible schedule if you are a full time player). Spending some extra money that you have won playing poker and remind yourself on some of the reasons of WHY you play (other than pure enjoyment).
photo credit: youngthousands/Flickr (top image)