Conquering Gambling Tilt

You know every move to make against the dealer’s upcard in blackjack, you’ve memorized the perfect strategies in video poker, and you know all of the best slots games to play in the casino.  Even still, you are sometimes affected by the most haunting word in all of gambling….tilt.

Don’t worry though, it happens to everyone.  Of course, tilt affects some people a lot worse than it does others because they don’t know how to deal with this problem.  So what are you to do to conquer this problem?  Join gambler’s anonymous?  Do something drastic like quit gambling?  Read a bunch of rehashed internet tilt articles? (just kidding, we’re actually quite fond of that one!)

Assuming you don’t think of the following as a rehashed internet article, here are some less drastic and more useful ways to deal with tilt.

Realize that the house has an edge and there will be variance

Unless you are a blackjack card counter, a skilled poker player, or have found the few video poker games that give players an edge, the house has an advantage over you.  Sure you can drastically reduce this edge by making banker bets in baccarat as opposed to making a top line bet in roulette, but the house still has a slight edge on you.

And just as you’ll have nights where you buck the house edge and win hundreds or even thousands of dollars, you’ll have nights where the house advantage gets you and then some.  These drastic swings are simply known as variance and every gambler – outside of the couple who spends $10 on slots during their “big” casino trip – experiences variance.

When bad variance strikes, the best thing you can do is remember the variance factor and stick to bets that you know are good.

Avoid the “defeated” attitude

Anybody who has suffered through horrible tilt sessions usually gets the defeated attitude at some point.  This is the point where you don’t even care anymore and begin thinking that a few baccarat tie bets (14.4% house edge) wouldn’t be so bad since your night is already going horribly.  You also might consider putting your whole bankroll into play in order to “battle back.”

And when you start coupling poor bets with a willingness to put your whole bankroll on the line, thousands of dollars can be lost in a single session.  Just because you are in a tremendous downswing during a session doesn’t give you the green light to start making poor wagers or throwing your original plan out the window.

Set Loss Limits

One of the simplest ways to combat tilt is by setting a loss limit.  Typically, the loss limit is a percentage of your total bankroll, and the loss limit size depends on how large your bankroll is and how serious of a gambler you are.  Casual gamblers with $500 bankrolls or less can set 50% loss limits while serious gamblers with $3,000 bankrolls shouldn’t accept losses higher than 20% in a session.

If you aren’t good at self-control, you should only bring a little more than your loss limit to the casino.  This ensures that you won’t be tempted to spend more than the loss limit assuming you lose all of the money in a single session.

Take a week or more off of gambling

Yes this is the most cliché point in the whole article, but everybody hits on this point for a reason: if you’re tilting, you need time off.  Many tilted gamblers end up this way because they become too fixated on winning.  And when things go the exact opposite way, people go on extreme cases of tilt.

Whenever you suffer through a bad session or feel yourself sinking into that defeated mode, you need to take some time off and do something else.  Whether this something else involves running, biking, going to movie, etc. it’s important to get away from the tables for a while.

Tilt makes the past all for nothing

If you’ve been able to keep your bankroll steady and even beat the casino on occasion, you’ve done a good job gambling.  However, you can erase all of the smart bets and solid bankroll management in a matter of minutes by tilting and making poor decisions.  In short, a bad session of tilt makes the past all for nothing.

So keep this and the other points in mind next time you feel yourself slipping into that state of tilt.  Also, ask yourself what’s worse: one losing session with bad variance or one horrible tilt session coupled with bad bets?