How To Handle Tilt During Heads-up

Daneil Merrit | May 16, 2010

I’m sure we all have experienced a heads-up match where our opponent won one or two big pots that left us trying to jump out of the rabbit. In situations like this we tend to get on tilt when attempting to rebuild our chip stack. The playable hands we need to rebuild our stack never seem to come. The real problem isn’t the cards you are being dealt, it’s those two big pots you’ve lost that has put you in a losing mindset – which you can’t seem to shake off your back. This article will show you how to get over the big losses during a heads-up match, put your opponent on tilt, and to rebuild your stack.

Heads-Up Poker GameThe first step to stop yourself from tilting is to accept that you’ve lost a big hand, and move on to the next one like it never has happened. If you aren’t capable of doing this, then there is one thing to help you to accomplish it. Think to yourself or talk out loud like you’re giving poker advice to a friend. Yes, I know you’re telling yourself how to act, but take some time to look examine your cards before you make a move, and tell yourself how you should play them. This will get you out of the mindset of tilting and get your focus back on playing the heads-up match properly.

Now that you are no longer tilting, it’s time to turn the match around. Continue to play properly. Keep your mind of the previous losses by telling yourself – giving yourself advice – how to play each and every hand. Also, tell yourself what your opponent is doing. Learn his playing style and analyze each hand, flop, turn, and river. To put some pressure on your opponent, you sometimes choose to say it out loud. This will help to reinforce your focus on the game and retain full awareness of your opponents’ actions.

Once you are sure of your opponents’ playing style – it’s either loose, tight, aggressive, or passive – you have the knowledge to beat him. Now it’s the time to get your opponent on tilt, so he can’t keep his focus on the game anymore. Make him believe the game has turned around. Make him feel so bad that he feels he can’t get a hand to save his heads-up life, just like you did when you were on tilt.

Take Advantage of Your Opponents’ Tilting

The minute this happens, take full advantage of your opponents’ tilting. If he’s a better poker player than you are, or not, you will surely have him up against the ropes in case he doesn’t come with an answer quickly. Take as many of his chips for as long as you can. You will win the heads-up match! It’s really doesn’t matter which game or stakes you are playing, keeping the lead during a level will insure you with the victory.

Just remember to turn things around as early as you can because heads-up situations in No Limit – and Pot Limit Hold’em games never last long. Limit Hold’em games on the other hand provide you with plenty of time to overcome a tilt and fully battle it out with your opponent. Remember, the same counts for him, as he can get over the losing mindset just like you. From there, all left to win the heads-up match are your skills and poker strategy awareness.