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What the Academics have to say about your Tilting

Overcoming our tendency to tilt in less-than-favorable online poker situations is no doubt important. However, this is also one of the cheesiest, most-frequently discussed topics in the poker strategy world. Many articles covering this subject merely resort to telling readers that they should stop playing and take a brisk walk to deal with the problem.

This being said, it’s always nice to get a fresh perspective on tilt from academics. And I recently came across an interesting academic study where the researchers sought to identify emotions that cause tilt and use this info to predict which set of players will be most affected. The study was conducted by some University of Helsinki academics named Jussi Palomaki, Michael Laakasuo and Mikko Salmela. You can check out their entire work here and the abridged findings are listed below:

1) Players with a “high sensitivity to losses” (feeling angry or robbed) tilted more often and intensely, which isn’t any big surprise.

2) Experienced grinders are less sensitive to losses than those who’ve played little online poker and so they tilt less often.

3) Experienced players tilted more frequently and intensely than beginners.

As you can see, all of the points appear to be contradicting because veteran grinders are not as highly sensitive to tilting, yet they tilt more than less experienced counterparts. The explanation behind this is that these people are playing far more poker hands than anybody else, so it’s only natural that they’d be more prone to tilting. However, the study’s results basically show that experienced players are going to tilt less on a per-hand basis than those who don’t play poker as much.

From an overall standpoint, this study doesn’t tell us anything totally out of the ordinary. But it’s interesting that even those who play millions of hands are still going to tilt quite a bit – just not as much per-hand.