Heads up play, with the one on one format, constant action, and the ever-present possibility of being bluffed, is a very emotional game. Therefore, it is not surprising that another regular opponent that must be discussed is the player on tilt. This player can come to you from a few different places. First, this player can be a heads up player type already discussed that has simply lost his head and gone on tilt. Second, this player can be a regular full ring game player who has suffered an unfortunate hand or hands and now wants to get it all back quickly playing heads up. Third, this player can be a higher limit heads up player who has recently lost a significant portion of his bankroll and is now playing in a lower limit game with total disregard to the money before him. I think that while each of these players has some different nuances in their game, tilt is tilt and they play mostly the same.
Name: Mr. Tilt
Playing Style: This player bets and raises like South Carolina’s football players break the law. Pre-flop, this player will raise pot close to 100% on the button. Out of position this player will either raise pot pre-flop close to 100% of the time, or regain some sense and remember how important position is. Either way, a pot bet on the flop is almost a certainty if this player raised pre-flop. If he is simply called on the flop, this player will fire out as many bullets as he can when holding just about any hand. If raised, this player might re-raise if he has a decent hand, call if he has a weak hand, or fold if he has absolutely nothing. However, this player might also call with nothing for a chance to bluff on a later street. When facing a pre-flop raise, Mr. Tilt will call with or without position when holding almost anything. After the flop this player might bet pot when first to act, check raise, check call, or rarely check fold.
Strength: The thing about a player on tilt that too many card players forget is that they get the same amount of monster hands as you do. Yes it is easy to write off this player’s bets and raises as bluffs, but you just might be facing the stone cold nuts. Accordingly one of this player’s main strengths is his ability to make his opponents forget that sometimes this player is NOT bluffing. Mr. Tilt will bet the same amount whether he has trash or a royal flush, and the truth is, you never know what you are up against until the showdown. Another strength this player has is his fearlessness. With total disregard for money, this player will not think twice about jumping all over any sign of weakness in his opponent. Most sensible players are of course capable of picking up a huge pot with nothing when weakness is sensed, but with this player, it is the rule instead of the exception. This player’s final strength is his ability to get his opponent on tilt or just to play poorly. An example being that because Mr. Tilt raises 100% of the hands on the button, his opponent might get frustrated knowing Mr. Tilt is raising with trash. The player will then start calling pot raises out of position with hands like J7 suited.
Weakness: Well for one, this player has no respect for three slightly important things in poker: his cards, and his chips, and thinking. Because this player will constantly fire bullets, he will walk right into many slow played hands and shed many chips making dumb bluffs. Mr. Tilt’s opponent simply has to wait for a strong hand and let Mr. Tilt bet for him the whole way. Another weakness of Mr. Tilt is that he is a sucker for falling for his opponent’s induced bluff. This player falls for an induced bluff like Michael Jackson falls for…well that is just disgusting. Finally, Mr. Tilt does not think in a poker game and therefore does not really notice what his opponent is doing. If Mr. Tilt is facing an opponent who IS thinking about what is going on (you), Mr. Tilt is at another disadvantage.
Plan of Attack: Don’t forget to be selective in what you call raises with out of position. Yes it is frustrating constantly folding to inferior hands pre-flop. However in reality, you are going to get bluffed out of the hand later if you don’t hit your J7 on the flop. Even if the flop comes like 765, you might be put to a decision for all your chips. Be very selective out of position and only call with hands that you are prepared to go to war with when you hit. Also, don’t re-raise pot out of position unless you hold something like the top 5 starting hands. For one you will definitely get called, and secondly you know you are going to be put to a decision, as Mr. Tilt will make at least one stab at this pot. On the button you want to again be selective with starting hands but be aggressive when you get a good one. There is no point in raising with junk on the button because you know you will be called and probably bluffed out. Simply wait for a good hand and make him pay. When you do hit a monster either in position or out of position do one of two things. If out of position just let him bet for you. Raise here only if you are scared of him hitting an obvious draw on the board. If you have position, induce the bluff by under-betting or betting on the flop, then checking the turn. You will be surprised how well inducing the bluff works against this guy. Inducing the bluff against a player on tilt is one of my greatest joys in poker.
Notes: Tilt is a finite resource and you should always remember that a player’s mentality and style will change. Be prepared for this player to stop tilting and start playing well. However, you want to keep this player on tilt. Another one of my great joys in poker is showing a well-timed bluff to a tilting player. Showing a bluff to Mr. Tilt is like hitting a huge hornets nest with a stick. Sit back and wait for the explosion of fury. Two things should be remembered about this play. One is that it is tricky to bluff Mr. Tilt because he is crazy and might call or raise with 9 high. Two, there is no reason not to show a bluff to Mr. Tilt because he is already not thinking and probably won’t put to good use the information you give away. The last thing I will talk about when playing Mr. Tilt is that the swings are capable of being very high. Don’t play this guy under funded! Hey, you shouldn’t be playing under funded anyway but especially not against this guy. You are going to be forced to make many long calls with mediocre hands against this guy and the last thing you need to be worried about is losing your bankroll. Good luck!
On a personal note, my laptop mysteriously broke this week after my opponenet hit perfect perfect when we were all in on the flop. I'm kidding, my labtop broke but it had nothing to do with poker so it has been hard to write. I am also going on vacation for spring break next week and will be unable to post. However, thanks to all of you who regularly read us! We are currently thinking about some new ideas for the site and would love your input. Ship It!