How to Tilt Opponents

Tilting Poker Opponents

This is a contentious topic for me. I rarely employ tactics to tilt opponents but there is no denying that it has its merits. Poker is war and any advantage (within the rules of the game) are permitted. In an age where poker is increasingly tougher to earn well, your edge is likely to be smaller. Tilt is a big reason why some people are not long-term winners or even professionals. If you tilt less and can make your opponent’s tilt more, you will have a greater edge. This article will look at ways to tilt opponents at the poker table. 

Constant 3 Bet

Most poker players like straight forward hands. They want to raise, and continuation bet as they wish without resistance. Nobody wants to get 3 bet much. It’s not a nice feeling is it? You know this to be true, particularly if you are getting 3 bet a lot.  Being put to the test pre-flop constantly, particularly out of position is tricky, awkward and can lead to costly mistakes. If you are 3 betting a specific opponent a lot, it will annoy him/her. Depending on the calibre of opponent, they will either tighten up, 4 bet you back or continue the same routine (raise/fold). Either way, it’s to your advantage as you have increased the likelihood they will tilt and pay you off post-flop. 

Showing Bluffs

This is not something I advocate for very much. I tell players I coach that it is rarely to your advantage to show cards and reveal information. However, if done correctly, it is an effective way to tilt opponents. There’s probably 1% of the poker population that don’t mind being bluffed. The rest, hate being bluffed. That doesn’t mean everyone tilts when showed a bluff, but many do! It hurts their ego, pride and makes them question their hand reading ability. This is a tactic that can be employed both online and live. Be careful who you do it against in live poker though. Some people will take such offence they may want to take matters outside.  

Stealing their Button

This is a strategy that seems to tilt opponents too. It doesn’t work against those who are playing 8 tables and don’t notice but in a live poker environment, it works a treat. Playing the cut-off is becoming ever important and raising from there often means you are preventing the button playing. This is something that many players hate. They have the mentality “it’s my button”. They almost think they have a right to play the hand and will take offence if you steal it from them.

Stealing their Blinds

You can tilt opponents in tournaments by attacking their blinds. It never ceases to amaze me when I see players stare you down and curse as they give up their blinds. Sometimes it happens even when you raise from under the gun. They seem to think you are attacking them when you raise, and they are in the big blind. Again, this is not a primary function to tilt opponents but watch out for it at the casino. If the big blind is a donkey who tilts easy, they will probably tilt if you raise their blinds a few rounds in a row. 

Check Raise their Continuation Bets

This works less than it used to tilt opponents. The perception of a check raise has changed in the last decade, but it still works against older poker players. They think it’s tricky, deceptive and almost unethical to check purely for the intention to raise them. They think “why don’t you just bet if you have a hand” as they muck their big slick on a low wet flop. This is not a tilt inducing move online, the play is far too common to achieve that. It only works in casinos and against senior citizens (no disrespect). 

Taking Your Time 

Poker is a fast-moving game and people want to play as much as they can. They don’t want to wait around for ages while you timebank with ace rag. This is especially true in casinos where you only get to play around 30 hands an hour. Think how frustrating it is for opponents when you are taking 1-2 minutes over every decision. I want to point out – I am not a fan of this move, but I can’t deny its advantages when considering ways to tilt opponents. I’ve never done this in my life but if you want to increase your advantage over opponents, it’s a plausible strategy to employ. Just look at Tom Dwan on High Stakes Poker. Granted, most of the professionals on there don’t tilt as a result but put a few inexperienced players there and they will tilt more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa! 

Table Chat 

Engaging in table chat is a way to tilt opponents too. There are various ways to tilt opponents through chatting e.g. mocking how they play. Be prepared to have a target on your back if you do implement this though as other players will want to take you out too. Professionals have used this to good effect for years e.g Tony Guoga. Perhaps it’s because they feel they do not have a skill edge so rely on their tongue to help them win. Either way, it’s a strategy that takes time to master as you are likely to give away information about your own cards when you start chatting. 

Disclaimer

This article is an educational piece on ways to tilt opponents, within the rules of the game. There are other ways to tilt opponents not mentioned here e.g. slow-roll or string betting. I do not condone either as ethical ways to tilt opponents. I also do not employ the plays in this article as a sole function to tilt opponents. Whilst poker is a war, it’s better to utilise your technical skills and strategy to earn money. Rather than make your opponents play worse, you are better served spending your time improving at poker. This is something we can help you with. You can sign up to our poker training video membership below for only £49.99 for 1 year. This gives you access to every video I upload with insights and tips on how to play winning poker.

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy “ways to avoid tilt” and “poker ethics“.

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Tilt Poker – What it is & How to Avoid it

Tilt Poker

One of the biggest obstacles you will have to overcome to being a consistent winner is tilt. The term that is used to describe a state of mind that all players want to avoid. Tilt is the anger and emotional distress that causes a poker player to play poorly. It usually occurs after a series of lost pots or bad beats but it is not limited to that. Tilt could manifest for a number of reasons specific to different people. Whilst one player may tilt because of a bad beat, another may tilt if he gets mocked at the table or shown a bluff. 

Why Do Players Tilt in Poker?

Players are not robots, everyone has triggers that get you off your game. People tilt because something is going on internally that has an adverse effect on your ability to play well. It might be something completely separate to poker. You may have had an argument at home and planned to play poker but guess what? Now you are thinking about the argument and not on your A game.
At its simplest, poker is a game of decisions. Making good decisions and better decisions in the long run will make you more money than your opponents. One of the most fundamental things to grasp is that you need to be at your best mentally, as often as you can be, to increase your chances of winning. Think about it, when you drink alcohol, it impairs your judgement doesn’t it? The analogy can be used for tilt and poker. If you get angered or emotionally distressed, you will feel the effect mentally and play worse as a result.

Tips to Avoiding Tilt

  1. Don’t start playing if you are not mentally prepared. Don’t fire up a session or go casino if you know you are already angry or distressed
  2. Get up from the table after a big lost pot or bad beat. Have a walk outside and get some fresh air
  3. Repeat positive messages in your head. If you’ve been shown a bluff or someone has cursed you at the table. Just repeat a positive message in your head that keeps you on your game. It can be something as simple as “you’re a great player” or “you’re better than him”
  4. Take a break for a few days. If you are on a bad run of sessions, don’t be afraid to take some time out if you sense you may tilt

Conclusion

Tilt is an extremely important obstacle to overcome at poker. It takes time, patience and humility to accept you are open to such a negative phenomenon that causes you to play badly. The best way to avoid it is knowing your triggers and being proactive so you recognise when you are likely to start tilting. If you can overcome your own demons of tilt, you stand a much better chance of making more money in the long run.

I hope you enjoyed this article; the mental side of poker is critical to being a winner. Feel free to email us at info@texasholdemquestions if you think you need mental game coaching or want more information.

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