Tuesday, 1 February 2011
We all know that poker is a game of skill that is affected by luck, be it good or bad. The theory is that a good player needs less luck than a less able player in order to be successful. In the long term, this is probably true but, in the short term, the “luck factor” or “variance” can completely dictate one player’s success or failure.
From an early age, we are all conditioned to believe in the concept of natural justice and that good will overcome evil. If you do something right, you will reap the rewards for making the “good” decision.
As we grow older, our life experiences teach us that good does not always overcome evil, like when Stoke beat West Brom; however, it’s still difficult to ignore the inherent expectation that when you play “right” and your opponent plays “wrong”, he under no circumstances deserves to be financially rewarded for his errant ways, and especially not from your pocket. It would seem to be a ridiculous and outrageous breach of your human rights.
The optimal choice is to be calm and controlled, knowing that your superior skills will always come to the fore and that, in the long term, a better player will always be more profitable than a less able player. The actual choice most of us make is to seek ways to punish those who have violated our bottoms. I’m referring, of course, to Monkey Tilt.
Retribution is required, and if that means cutting off your nose to spite your face, then bye-bye nose. You don’t even just want to beat them; you want it to hurt as well, which means that getting it in bad is actually preferable to getting it in good. That way, you have the chance to proper back-door them good and hard.
It‘s good if you’re playing multiple tables of PLO or some kind of pot limit game, so that when it is your turn to act you can get as much cash into the pot as possible, regardless of your hand, and then bet the pot on the flop, regardless of the flop (some online players, who misunderstand the concept of aggression do this when they’re not on tilt). PLO is better than a no limit game under these circumstances because, although you can get it all-in in one go in a no limit games, it’s more aesthetically pleasing to “BET THE POT!!!!” a few times and actually get meaningful folds from opponents who have called your pre-flop bet. In no limit you will generally get picked off when you open-shove and be much less likely to win a pot than you would with the pot-sized pre-flop bet, followed by a pot-flop bet in PLO. Also, when it all goes in pre-flop in PLO you may often have around 40% equity, no matter how tilted you are. This may reduce slightly when lumping it in in a mindless frenzy without looking at your cards, but, in those circumstances, at least the pleasure of leaving any opponent with a sore bottom is greatly enhanced.
Winning and being profitable is no longer the main aim; now it’s to make your opponent angry, to abuse him either verbally or, preferably, with ill fortune that will cause maximum psychological stress and hopefully leave him mentally scarred for the longest possible time period, and for him to see you benefit, at his direct expense, from your own misguided actions.
Some people say that gamblers “enjoy” the pain of losing, as the feeling of loss and being “in the gutter”, even for a short time, is like a drug to them. I guess this is similar to being tied up and having your bottom spanked or having a nice lady wee on your head. I will consult some of my poker friends for confirmation. It also enhances the pleasure from the good times when the “lows” have been very low.
But the truth of it is that when you are angry and your mental equilibrium has become unbalanced, you need release. You need to punish the person most responsible for your anger. Equity and reason are not factors in a decision process which can often also be distorted by feelings of paranoia.
It’s so difficult to control yourself once you have been bitten by the Tilt Monkey as rational thought becomes almost impossible. Often having some kind of inanimate object can help remind you to balance your mind (maybe a small toy monkey). Some players have a post it note attached to their computer screen with a little message reminding them to calm down or stop playing.
Don’t try and rationalise it, however. You can’t rationalise bad luck. It will only re-enforce the sense of injustice. Instead, try to consider a better course of action. You are on tilt and your decisions are being driven by your emotions. If you are in full control of your emotions and have the patience of a Buddhist monk, you may be able to play through events that might put others on tilt. But if you, like the vast majority of players, have less self-control than that, it’s best to walk away from the environment in which you are playing and allow yourself the time to calm down.
If you know you’re tilting, just accept you cannot beat it and walk away.