By: Jason Lake
It's not easy being human. No matter how good you are at something, there will be times when your brain and the rest of your body just don't seem to get along. Poor decisions will be made and executed. Then you'll compound your error by over reacting, and making an even worse decision. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Every culture has a core set of principles to help us deal with this. Taoism has the Five Precepts, Buddhism has the Noble Eightfold Path, and poker has the Ten Commandments. If you've been studying poker for a while, you may have been taught the Ten Commandments of no-limit Hold 'em, or tournament poker, or maybe even poker etiquette. But the following Ten Commandments of tilt management might be the most important thing you'll ever learn about poker.
I. Thou shalt not play at stakes thou cannot handle.
II. Thou shalt not play against opponents thou cannot handle.
III. Thou shalt not play more tables than thou can handle.
IV. Thou shalt not play when tired.
V. Thou shalt not play when distracted.
VI. Thou shalt not play when under the influence.
VII. Thou shalt not play to impress others.
VIII. Thou shalt not play purely for financial gain.
IX. Thou shalt not play to rack up Poker Points.
X. Thou shalt not play when there are more important things to do.
As you can see, all 10 of these commandments tell you not to play poker under certain conditions. They apply to all players, regardless of ability or bankroll. Each of these guidelines should be simple enough to understand, especially the first six; the remaining four might be a bit more subtle, but they're equally important, if not more so.
X Marks the Spot
So what's wrong with impressing others? Nothing, but that should be a by-product of your game, not the end goal. Same thing when it comes to the money itself, or the Poker Points you earn for putting in volume at the tables. Yes, poker gives you the opportunity to earn money and prizes, but you have no control over how the cards will be dealt. Having monetary goals and targets will only put you in the fast lane to Tilt City. Make your poker goals the kind you have control over achieving, do your best to achieve them, and you'll be able to sleep soundly at night.
That's assuming you follow the all-important Commandment X. No matter how good you are at the pokers, there are other things that need taking care of at some point. The solution: scheduling. Use a daily/weekly/monthly planner to figure out when the best times are for you to get different things done, and stick as closely to the plan as possible. Events will conspire to take poker time away from you – don't try to make up for those “lost” hours by skipping workouts or ignoring your friends and family. Poker will still be there when you get back.