Lots has been written about how to deal with losing, we’ve all seen poker players of all abilities going on ‘tilt’ and laying terribly after suffering heavy losses. Experienced gamblers, psychiatrists and regular punters alike have all come up with techniques and methods to avoid this or limiting its affects. However there is another big problem as for many involved in gambling, and that’s learning how to deal with winning.
Poker and gambling has one highly distinguished difference from a ‘regular’ job, and that’s how you get paid. If you have a conventional career you will often get paid monthly and you can use this to sustain a pretty stable understanding of your personal financial circumstances.
But when the money starts rolling in from gambling it’s all too easy to forget the previous three months where precious little was earned. As a consequence, relatively small sums of money can delude even the savvy ones among us as to exactly how wealthy we really are. Extravagant lifestyle spending and a generally wasteful attitude to money seem to be the inevitable result, and this is commonly referred to as winner’s tilt.
Pride before a fall
When suffering from winner’s tilt you can go off just as hard as a man tilting it in a 20-hour poker session, but the dangerous thing about winner’s tilt is it’s impossible to detect among the high morale winning brings, and because we’re winning we have more money we risk going through.
Around three and a half years ago, when I first started to take poker seriously, I was 20 years old without a care in the world. I was strutting around like a proud lion feeling like the king of my world and the boss of everyone else’s. I should have known this wasn’t going to last. But you tend to learn life lessons the hard way.
The wasteful spending, however, isn’t the only negative effect winning can have on a gambler. I’ve seen several players go on extraordinary runs. A player on a rich vein of form is always very dangerous. They play fearlessly, due to the confidence of a big financial boost. They are also normally in a rich vein of form. They are often catching the best of the deck which can always make them intimidating to play against. The biggest and most positive factor is that when they sit down to play, everyone can see they believe they are going to win. Take it from me, it’s a great feeling!
However all these attributes the good run has brought have a dangerous double edge, in the form of arrogance and delusion. It’s a very fine line between playing fearlessly and recklessly; between being on the right side of coin flips to the wrong side of those 25/75s. There is also a dangerously fine line between believing you are going to win and expecting to win.
The dangers of luck
It’s unreal how many people are undone by their own good fortune. When things turn against them they then start really tilting. As soon as you start to expect anything, or feel any sense of entitlement in gambling you’ll find yourself coming undone very quickly.
How to avoid winner’s tilt? Well approach it the same way you approach losing. Poker and gambling are endeavours which require a great deal of emotional control, don’t fall into the same trap so many people do and forget how important this is just because you are winning. Just as important as taking breaks during big losses, is taking breaks during big wins. Winning is a great feeling, so try not to spoil it by taking it for granted.