How To Play Against Someone On Tilt By Jonathan Little


When you see someone lose a big pot, especially if they lose in a way that makes them look or feel dumb, don’t be surprised if they compound their losses by going on tilt. The following two hands took place in a $1,500 buy-in World Series of Poker event.

Early in the tournament, I raised preflop with 7-6 suited from middle position and an amateur player in the big blind called. I bet on all three streets on a J-9-8-10-10 board and got called by a worse hand. He was clearly annoyed that he lost to a hand that he felt I should not have played preflop in the first place, and was especially annoyed that I got lucky to turn the straight. Of course, he may have also been annoyed that he paid off my large river bet with what was clearly a bluff catcher.

It should be made perfectly clear that you should never get upset at your opponents for playing hands that are not premium. When you hear someone complaining about someone’s starting hand requirements, you should instantly recognize that they are likely a weak player.

Later in level 1, I raised 8Heart Suit 6Heart Suit to 300 on the button out of my 25,000 stack at 100-100 blinds and the big blind, the potential tilter, called. He had around 18,000 chips.

The flop came 7Heart Suit 5Heart Suit 3Club Suit, giving me a straight flush draw. He checked and I made a standard continuation bet of 400 into the 700 pot. He instantly made it 1,200. This is now a great situation for me because if I hit my draw, I will almost certainly win a lot of chips due to my opponent potentially being on tilt, resulting in him blasting off, and if I miss, I will only lose my flop and turn call. So, I made the call.

The turn was the JClub Suit. He bet 1,200 again, which I happily called. His 1,200 bet is especially bad because it gives me excellent odds to call. Especially on a draw-heavy board, you should tend to use large bet sizes with both your value hands and bluffs, which my opponent failed to do. If he bet more, perhaps 2,000, I would have still called, but notice that my opponent would have got more money in the pot with what is almost certainly the best hand.

The river was the 6Spade Suit, giving me a weak pair. He instantly bet 2,200 right as the 6Spade Suit came off the deck as if he was planning to bet no matter what card came on the river. This is usually a sign of extreme strength or weakness, and seeing how he was probably on tilt, I thought it was a bit more likely to indicate weakness. Also, most players would be quite scared of the six on the river because any four now makes a straight. With most strong hands, many players will simply check-call the river because if they bet and get raised, they are usually beat.

The 6Spade Suit also failed to improve almost every flopped flush draw while at the same time giving me a marginal bluff catcher. In this spot, I don’t think there is much of a difference between 8-6 and 10-10, as both are mediocre marginal made hands. Unless my opponent caught the jack on the turn and blindly value bet it on the river, I am probably ahead due to my opponent’s range being weighted towards bluffs. Realize that there are many more combinations of bluffs than nut hands, especially since I have a six blocked and another just came on the board.

Since I think my opponent’s range is weak due to most strong turn hands wanting to check the river and many of the obvious draws failing to improve, plus the fact he may be on tilt, I have an easy call, which is what I did. He turned up ASpade Suit 2Club Suit in disgust and I collected another nice pot. It is always interesting to see players turn over stone bluffs in spots like this because I usually assume they must have some sort of draw to make this play. This goes to show you that when a player is on tilt, they may be prone to randomly bluff off a large chunk of their stack. ♠

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and best-selling poker author with more than $7 million in live tournament earnings. If you want to learn how to play fundamentally sound poker and increase your win rate, check out Click here to try for free.