Going On Tilt

Weekly Go Wednesday #20

Credit SilverOakCasino

For those who are not familiar with the realm of poker (or gambling in general), going on tilt refers to a emotionally wild state where a player is prone to make irrational decisions and often ends in their unfortunate demise.

To illustrate, imagine that you have a straight flush (5-6-7-8-9), which happens to be second best hand that a player can have in the game. Mathematically speaking, the odds of your opponents having the royal flush (which is the best hand) is so slim that it’s practically not worth mentioning. To sweeten the deal, none of your opponents have any idea that you have this amazing hand and you’ve reeled them in for a ton of money. When time comes to show the cards, you find out that the impossible has happened: one of your opponents has the royal flush and cleans you out.

In a fit of rage and frustration, you go to get more cash and start to play wildly and bet aggressively in an attempt to win back what “should have” been yours. Over the next few hours, not only do you fail to win any money back, but now you are in a bit of debt and in the most terrible of moods. That is what going “on tilt” is. And it is no different with go.

There are three main scenarios that cause players to go on tilt:

  1. Losing a won game.

  2. Losing because of a mistake.

  3. Losing because a large group was captured.

Each time a player goes on tilt, a general cycle will occur: (1) The player will rush to play another game. (2) In order to “save face,” they try to crush their opponent even though it is a completely different opponent than before. (3) They start to go on a losing streak, which only causes them to spiral further downwards. (4) They get fed up with go.

As I said, aside from the fact that go games generally don’t consist of losing money, it’s practically one and the same. It’s a dangerous emotional state that will only do you harm and never any good.

If you’re still not convinced though, here are three reasons why going on tilt is nothing but bad news:

  1. You will try to kill everything. For 99% of players out there, there is no greater euphoric feeling than killing off a large group. And since you’re on tilt and looking to try and make yourself feel better, the allure to kill will just be too strong. Unfortunately, killing things is not as easy as it looks. So instead of feeling better, odds are pretty good that you’ll end up overextending your attack and resigning when it is your group that dies instead.

  2. You start to play by impulse. No matter how strong your fundamentals are, unless you are a sandbagger, there is no way in hell that your opponent (who is a similar skill level to you) will make the mistakes you will make when playing impulse moves. Your opponent will be reading. You will not. And in case you haven’t put two and two together, that will spell out disaster for you.

  3. It’s only going to get worse. Although there is the rare occasion that you demolish your first opponent and then feel relieved and thus get out of tilt, most of the time you are only going to find yourself spiraling down into the abyss that we all know as a losing streak. And in the worst case scenario, it might get so bad that you just end up quitting go all together.

In my journey thus far, these are some of the things I discovered on how to prevent yourself from going on tilt:

  1. Take a break before playing your next game. Even if it’s only five minutes, doing something like getting up and washing your face to clear your head will help to calm you down.

  2. Do some pushups and shadowbox. Especially if you’re feeling very frustrated, some physical activity will help to blow off some steam. Not to mention, exercise is good for you anyways! Although I will note that you should take a couple minutes after to calm down from the adrenaline.

  3. Let go of the emotional attachment to winning and losing. I know I’m starting to get in to philosophy territory, but I’m being perfectly serious. After all, going on tilt is rooted in the egocentric idea of having things go your way. And if you’re able to achieve this, the benefits you’ll see in your go and the rest of your life will be astounding.

I know that #3 is rather abstract; but don’t worry, I will write more on this in next week’s post. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, I pose the following question to you:

How do you deal with / prevent going on tilt?