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Tommy Angelo Presents: You Might Be Tilting If… (Part 2)

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 returns with the second part of a two-part article on identifying signs of tilt.

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  • “If you ask for a dealer-button change, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you make a short buy with $1 bills, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you decide to check-raise that lag fool one more time because there's no way he can %@!&! have it AGAIN, you might be tilting.”

I did not make those up. They came to me. By email. Those bits of wisdom and a hundred more. What happened was, I asked my newsletter subscribers to fill in the blank in this sentence:

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

I swiped this idea from Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian who rattles off one-liners that all end with “…then you might be a redneck.” I told my subscribers that I would put their submissions in a poker article. They sent me a hundred little poems of pain, enough for two articles.

Most of them I find hilarious. But why? Why is anger amusing? Why is harrowing humorous? Why is catastrophe comical?

I don’t know. I just know I laugh.

Once collected, the entries sorted themselves into categories. Let’s continue with a pair from…


  • “If your opponents start comping your meals, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you borrow money from your kid’s stash, figuring when you win, she can go to a better college, you might be tilting.” [!]

That “[!]” is a sign I invented to say “This one cracks me up every time I read it.”


If you’ve ever been driven guano crazy by internet poker, you’ll be able to relate to these:

  • “If you’d rather start on your taxes than enter another bloody tournament, you might be tilting.”
  • “If your bedroom looks like an IT graveyard, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you go all in simultaneously on all your online tables and then pull the plug on your computer, you might be tilting.”

To that last one, the contributor added:

  • “(Obviously never did it myself but, y'know, I once heard of a guy...)”


Several people told two-chapter stories. This first one only makes sense if you know the lingo, and it’s worth the ink to make sure you do. For a definition of “HU4ROLLZ,” we turn to the Urban Dictionary, because their example is so fine:

HU4ROLLZ is short for “Heads-Up For Rollz” (as in bankrolls), usually phrased as a question. HU4Rollz is frequently used by poker players to challenge other players to play heads-up for their entire bankroll.

FISH: You are such an idiot for making that call with ace high.

And now, here’s the submission:

  • “If you finally understand why someone would want to play HU4ROLLZ, you might be tilting. Likewise if you actually do play HU4ROLLZ.”

Another two-parter:

  • “If you want to embarrass a player while his wife is on the rail, you might be tilting. And if you are planning your ‘comeback line,’ for the next big pot you take from him, then you definitely are.” [!]

Do you like the picture above with the flying ace-king? Here’s the one that inspired my friend Ken to draw that picture.

  • “If your mucked cards bounce off the dealer’s forehead, you might be tilting. If, two rounds later, you are still talking about what a terrible call your opponent made to hit a two-outer on the river, you are definitely tilting.”


This is my favorite category because I see every poker table as an altar upon which we sacrifice our sanity to feed the tilt demon in us all.

  • “If the chip runner brings an extra buy-in with her 'to save a trip,' you might be tilting.”
  • “If you rush past a childhood sweetheart who you haven't seen for 10 years, barely acknowledging her, while on the way to the ATM after a brutal suckout, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you see a donkey tip $8 and you decide to NEVER tip again, you might be tilting.”
  • “If your {6-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds} looks like a sure cap bet after failing to impress anyone the previous two hands, you might be tilting.”

I [!] at the bolded part on that last one.

  • “If you know you're OBVIOUSLY the best player at the table, and that guy down there with all your money is just another lucky Crasian, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you turn a winning night into a visit to a cold parking lot with no chips in five successive hands, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you ever used your comp points to pay for a buddy’s dinner, got the money from him, and then used it to rebuy back into a game, you might be tilting.” [!]


Because tilt isn’t only about how bad we feel, right? It’s also about how bad we play.

  • “If you justify all preflop actions with ‘I will just outplay them post,’ you might be tilting.”
  • “If you're furious that your pocket ducks failed to hold up against a board of {A-}{K-}{Q-}{10-}{9-}, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you just limp with {K-}{K-} because the ace has always been showing up on the flop, you might be tilting.”
  • “If your opening range under the gun is ‘I have cards,’ you might be tilting.”
  • “If you say, ‘Clubs never come on Tuesdays,’ you might be tilting.”


When tilt gets physical, something breaks.

  • “If you find a new fist-shaped hole in your bedroom wall, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you punch your laptop screen and throw it out the second story window, you might be tilting.”


Here’s a pair from the ancient tilting practice known as getting even.

  • “If you dump every cent you have on the table to try and get back to even, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you take a quick trip to the blackjack table to rebuild your bankroll, you might be tilting.”


Some of the entries were a touch abstract:

  • “If all the paintings on the wall suddenly look like they need to be leveled, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you buy a can of Pringles because they’re the only chips you can stack, you might be tilting.”


And others were no frills, just truth:

  • “If poker is no fun, you might be tilting.”
  • “If you play bad starting hands and expect good results, you might be tilting.”

The last category I claim as my own. I call it…


I have many times written and spoken about an undepletable profit source — looking left. That’s why one contributor sent in this:

  • “If the last time you looked to your left before acting was when you turned into the parking lot for the card room, you might be tilting.”

This one borrows a punch line from one of my stories:

  • “If you pull your money out to buy chips again for the tenth time, and the guy next to you asks "Can I have your rubber band when you're done with it?" you might be tilting.”

And finally, for any coach, recommendations are the ultimate compliment, so for me, this one is not only [!] but also :

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