When players make mistakes because something upsets them emotionally, it is called a "tilt" or "being on a tilt." An example is a player who is a huge favorite in a hand but loses to an opponent who hits a miracle card on the river (often called a "bad beat"). That player becomes so emotionally upset that he/she begins to make bad decisions. Another instance that sometimes puts players on a tilt is when an opponent is loud, obnoxious, rude, or otherwise annoying. Players who are on a tilt react in many different ways with the most common being entering pots with weaker hands than usual and calling bets when the pot odds don't warrant it. While it's important to realize when one of your opponents is on a tilt, it is more important to realize when you may be going on a tilt and figuring out how not to let your emotions get the best of you.
Recognizing when you are going on a tilt is easier for some than others. If you think you may have played on tilt but aren't sure, one way that may help you is to keep detailed records of your playing sessions. Something else to watch out for is if you start to consider playing weaker hands than you usually play after taking a couple bad beats.
Once you realize that you are going on a tilt, you must, of course, try to avoid it. Some players can avoid tilting by simply suppressing their emotions and concentrating more on the game. If you are too upset, it may be best to simply quit your current playing session. Some players will get up and take a short walk to clear their head before returning to the game. Some find that fresh air also helps. Try different things when you go on a tilt until you find which one works best for you.
When one of your opponents is on a tilt, remember a few things as you try to take advantage of the situation. Players on a tilt are often unpredictable, especially when deciding their starting hand. Entering the pot with weaker hands than usual is the most common thing players on a tilt do.
Another thing to remember is that players may realize what they are doing and correct it at any time. In addition, solid players may be trying to convince you they are on a tilt when they are not. Deception in poker is a frequent occurrence.
It is important to remember not to play weak hands in order to take advantage of the player on a tilt. The fish may become so tempting to you that you become a fish yourself.
In the next section, we will look at the "tells" that can reveal a player's hand, intentions or mood.