by Diane McHaffie
A few years ago, Mike and I were on our way to the blackjack salon at the Rio, when a well-dressed gentleman brushed past us, a scowl furrowing his brow, muttering in an agitated matter. Roller-coaster: The gentleman introduced himself as Brent, acknowledging that he was aware of Mike’s reputation, said he wasn’t much of a blackjack player, but had been running badly at poker. He was only going to invest $1,000. He then fell silent, except for occasional mutterings. Because of his apparent emotional state, I was concerned about his ability to make good money decisions.
I recalled Mike’s warnings about how it’s unwise to play when your emotions are raging out of control. Decision-making is probably going to be flawed.
Bumpy: Brent’s ride soon became bumpy. I recognized the signs of tilt. He had spiraled away from good decisions, not that he had actually arrived at the table with any. Due to his mood, he lacked the ability to adequately comprehend that he was damaging his poker bankroll. Intent on regaining his foothold, he would replenish his vanishing chips immediately, stubbornly determined to regain lost territory. Another $1,000. Then another. Then more. All lost.
Steaming: In the past, Mike says tilt was referred to as “steaming.” Hmm, I could see why! It did appear as if steam were wafting out of Brent’s ears. If only he had realized what was happening, he might have walked away with some money in his pocket, but he seemed oblivious.
Mike advises foregoing your turn at tilt, but if you ignore the warnings and succumb, you absolutely need to regain control immediately to minimize the damage. If the problem persists, and you’re unable to take command of your decision-making, you need to step away from the table and take a break.
I repeat! For you to have any hope of breaking the downward spiral of destruction, it’s necessary to take a break, whether for 10 minutes, an hour, a day or a week. It’s vital to regain your composure, so that you can resume making good decisions. Emotions can easily break your bankroll! Just as they did Brent’s on that fateful day!
Misery: Caro’s Threshold of Misery is a law stating that once you’ve lost much more than you thought possible, your ability to feel the pain has been maximized and any additional losses don’t feel any worse. It appeared that the threshold had Brent in her clutches. No matter how many piles of $100 bills he plucked down on the table, they continued to fade across the table to the house. Obviously, he’d passed the point of no return.
It was a catastrophe of huge proportions. We estimated that Brent lost close to $60,000 that horrible day. After placing his last bundle of money on the table, and watching it fade away, he heaved a resigned sigh, stood up and stumbled away from the salon, defeated and broke.
As Mike teaches, whether poker, blackjack or everyday life, you must be resolute in making the best decisions, because they do matter! Perhaps Brent would realize that bit of wisdom tomorrow, when it was too late. I vowed that I would refrain from ever allowing tilt to rear its ugly head.
Walk: Instead of taking a walk and cooling off, Brent had stalked into the blackjack salon and plunked a wad of $100s onto the table, sealing his fate that day. Nor, after losing the first $10,000, did he rise from the table to stroll to the men’s room in an attempt to get control of his emotions. No, he never even left the table!
When a player descends beyond the Threshold of Misery it’s not a pretty sight! So, players beware! When emotions are wreaking havoc with your judgment and good decisions are threatening to be overtaken by that devil called tilt, don’t sit down at a table where your bankroll could be in jeopardy. Take a walk!
Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at firstname.lastname@example.org.