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Tommy Angelo Presents: You Might Be Tilting If… (Part 1)

You Might Be Tilting If...

Poker player and coach Tommy Angelo is the author of two well regarded poker books, Elements of Poker and A Rubber Band Story and Other Poker Tales, as well as numerous poker articles for various outlets. Angelo is known in particular for helping players deal with the mental challenges poker provides, including overcoming tilt. Today Angelo shares the first of a two-part article on identifying signs of tilt.

Ever heard of Jeff Foxworthy? He’s a comedian who did a bit called, “You might be a redneck if….”

In his skit, he fires off one-liners, like this one here:

  • “If you cut your grass and find a car, you might be a redneck.”

Here’s another:

  • “If you’ve ever been too drunk to fish, you might be a redneck.”

I had an idea to write a poker article made up of nothing but Foxworthy-style one-liners, but about tilting. Then I had an even better idea. I would ask my newsletter readers to write it for me! And boy did they.

I asked them to fill in the blank in this sentence:

  • “If you ______________, you might be tilting.”

Fifty people replied, some with multiple entries. So now I have 100 one-liners to pick from. Here’s a teaser:

  • “If you start to think of your valuable possessions as ‘pawn meat,’ you might be tilting.”

I’m going to share a whole bunch more, but before we go there, I have something to confess to those who sent in their short stories of woe.

If I were to sit still and imagine the events depicted in your submissions, I would feel like I was in a nightmare. But instead, I laughed. I laughed at your pain, again and again. And now I am constructing two 1,000-word articles out of your anecdotes of agony to provide comic entertainment. You know what that tells me? It’s not just me. You think tilt is funny, too!

As long as it’s someone else’s, right?

  • “If you try to borrow money from the pizza delivery guy, you might be tilting.”

Did you laugh? Let me tell you, when it happened, it was anything but funny. I was 22. I was broke. I was desperate. I was tilted all the way to eleven.

And still you laugh! See what I mean?

I set about sorting the 100 entries into categories, and no surprise, redundancies appeared in some of the traditional fields, such as smashing computer equipment and running out of money. Here goes...


Starting in the “General” category, we begin with this classic:

  • “If you stand up and throw your chips at your opponent because he cracked your kings with aces and he laughs just like your brother, you might be tilting.”

And here’s one I think we’ve all known:

  • “If you cannot extinguish your burning desire to tell everyone on earth how bad you are running, you might be tilting.”

I’m going to rattle off several more gems from “General,” and then we’ll move on to the specialty categories.

  • “If you yell ‘SHIP IT!’ at the ATM, you might be tilting.”
  • “If all your chips are sliding to the other end of the table, you might be tilting.”
  • “If your bankroll and buy-in become synonymous, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you believe the guy who says ‘send me home’ right before he shoves, you might be tilting.”


Next up, the “Strategy” category. These are the ones that involve things like poker hands and betting decisions.

  • “If you silently scream at yourself for folding that {2-}{4-}-offsuit that flopped a boat — regardless of any and all table action leading up to the flop — you might be tilting.”
  • “If you are first to act in the hand and you think you have a ‘ship or fold’ decision with a 200 BB stack, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you flop bottom pair with second-nut kicker and raise a short-stacked player, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you play two wetnaps because they’re suited, you might be tilting.”


Here comes the biggest, and in my opinion, the best category — “Live Poker.” We sit, for hours, in a tight circle, almost touching elbows, trying to assassinate each other. This is where anger lives and breeds, and resentment, and frustration. This is the altar upon which tilt was born.

  • “If the dealer refuses your tip ‘because you need it more than me, buddy,’ you might be tilting.” [!]

I’ve read all these several times now, and some of them crack me up every time. So I just made that into a new category, marked with “[!]”.

Back to “Live Poker”...

  • “If you go all-in in the dark in a home game while urinating, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you spend more time counting your opponents’ chips than your own, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you spend twenty minutes swearing to yourself in a casino toilet cubicle, you might be tilting.”
  • “If your uptight tablemate tries to get you tossed out for being drunk, and the floorman winks at you and asks what’s in that coffee sir, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you’re stuck three racks and you haven’t moved from your seat for four hours ‘because the game is too good,’ you might be tilting.”
  • “If, as the river card comes, you find yourself covering your eyes, or willfully glancing away from the table, not to mask any tell or public emotion, mind you, but rather to enhance your own personal drama by delaying the answer as to whether or not that river made the flush you shouldn’t have been passively chasing in the first place, you might be tilting.”

So well put, that last one. And then the contributor added: “Not that I have any personal experience here.”


Next are two from the “Online” department:

  • “If you hit ‘Call’ because you’re curious, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you go broke online and you feel better after leaving your poker site a bad review on Yelp, you might be tilting.” [!]


A couple on theme of “Damage”:

  • “If you tell your family you broke your hand falling off a ladder instead of admitting to punching a wall after a session, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you’re on your third keyboard this week, you might be tilting.”


Here’s a pair from the ancient tilting practice known as “Getting Even”:

  • “If your $68 remaining stack in a 20-40 ring game looks like a cinch to double up each of the next five hands and get you even for the night, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you imagine yourself getting even by hitting a hard 8 on the craps table, you might be tilting.”


I call this category “Metaphorical” because as you’ll see, it takes us away from the physicality of poker and into the abstract.

  • “If you call the river with ace-high instead of your mother on her birthday, you might be tilting.”
  • “If the phrase ‘if there wasn’t luck involved, I would win every time’ finally makes sense, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you shove your plate, glass, and silverware into the middle of the dinner table, you might be tilting.”


Last up, “The Ones That Are About Me.” One time I wrote that to win at poker, you need to act like Jesus but play like the devil. That led one of my subscribers to send in this:

  • “If you act like the devil but play like Jesus, you might be tilting.”

I’ll end with my fave of the lot. How could it not be?

  • “If your best poker buddy tells you to go read some Tommy Angelo, you might be tilting.”
* * * * *

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