Tilting Hard, and Dealing with it.

Tilt n (tlt): a state of mental confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in the player becoming over-aggressive.

I hate it when poker terms bleed out into real life situations. I cringe anytime someone (including myself) says that they were “all-in” on something that isn’t a no-limit pot. I have to actively restrain myself from whipping out my pimp-hand when someone says something is “the nut,” but there’s just no better way to describe being tilted other than to say you’re on tilt, and having to admit that I’m on tilt when I am only makes me tilt harder.

I haven’t picked up a magic card in nearly two weeks because I’m on tilt. Hard.

That statement isn’t entirely true, because some friends and I team drafted at a hip bar in Boston a couple of weeks ago; I wasn’t happy about it, but I thought having some fun with magic might help my issue.

This all started after I had been killing it on Magic Online last month. After my online PTQ top 8 things had been steady, I was winning a bit but drafting a bit and not winning so everything kind of offset. Then I won a limited premiere event and my account was actually pretty respectable. I already had JUND built online so I really didn’t need to invest in anything, I could just pay entry fees to try and build the account to what I envisioned as a most ludcrious state by “going infinite” in daily events.

It had also been my goal since I got into MTGO to participate in a Magic Online Championship Series Event, something you have to qualify for by winning events online and earning points. In march after just a few days I had 11 out of the needed 15 points to participate; three weeks later I was holding steady at 11, the season over and my account nearly zeroed out of packs and tix.

This alone is enough to piss someone right off, but this is just the end to justify the means. The path that I took is what drove me into a downward spiral of Anger, Fear and Aggression: The Dark Path.

Anger. Don’t think you’re better than the game:

Magic is a quick game, often times over within 8 turns for each player. With so many fast decks out there the game can end even earlier. A lot of times when we lose there was something we could’ve done to win, but sometimes you just lose. If, after a loss, you open your mind to the idea that losses are inevitable you can avoid tilting.

But if you’re really angry about a loss, instead of jumping in another 8-man queue, go watch your games and see if there was any other play you could’ve made.

Fear. Don’t make stupid decisions because you are afraid to lose, these will only make you madder:


I have bad decisions tattooed on my arm; no joke. A lot of these were life decisions, but damned if I wasn’t sitting in that chair thinking about how it applies to my card career too. When you know you’re playing against vampires and you keep a hand with NO removal even though it’s a “good matchup” and you lose, it’s easy for someone to say “you can’t be mad, you decided to keep a bad hand.” SCREW that. You just did a stupid thing, and it’s infuriating. Most of my losses to vampires and allies are because I kept a hand without removal despite knowing my matchup and knowing I boarded in extra creature kill. And when I do this it only serves to piss me off, even if my mana was tight.

Aggression. Don’t reload:

I used to play a bunch of poker and when I was running bad I knew to just do something else. I have plenty of hobbies I can do something else with my time. I find it a lot harder to walk away from Magic because it’s such a proving ground for me. It’s the first card game I’ve played that I haven’t been able to excel at. So when I start losing it’s harder for me to not jump in an 8-man queue with 6 people in it or a Daily event that’s firing in 10 minutes.

I’ll harken back to the definition of Tilt I posted above and how it mentions aggressiveness. I most identify this with being too aggressive with your actual iterations of playing. If you’re angry and you are losing, just stop reloading beacuse even if you win a game or two, is it really going to pull you out of tilt, or is it going to make you reload again? It’s like false positive reinforcement, yeah that didn’t go so bad but when you find yourself still in your swoon you’re going to be up ranting and raving on facebook chat to your friends about how bullshit you are at yourself for keeping 6 lands and a bloodbraid elf.

That ranting and raving thing is a true story, only it happened on Gmail chat. I went through about 80 tickets in three days trying to qualify for the MOCS, and when I clicked open the Magic Online store to bust into my paypal account I had to draw the line and unplug my laptop. I like to pride myself on being a pretty cool customer, almost completely unflappable, but we all have weaknesses and as much of a gracious loser I think I am, I HATE losing; it bends me out of shape.

So I’m Magic Free for two weeks, even though I am a bit regretful that I cannot attend any Rise of Eldrazi pre-releases. I really enjoyed posting my pools from the Worldwake prereleases and writing about them for power9pro but I have an engagement with another card game that I must attend, and to be honest I don’t think I’m ready to strap back into a magic seat yet. I’m still pretty frustrated with myself for allowing my account to go nuclear instead of playing some xbox or reading, but I need to open myself up to the fact that playing for the sake of playing isn’t going to make me a better magic player. I’m going to sit back down when I really want to give it a stab… or on Sunday when the first standard PTQ online fires.

Mike Gemme


Bobbysapphire on MTGO

2 thoughts on “Tilting Hard, and Dealing with it.”

  1. Refreshing to hear that I’m not the only one out there with streaks like this. Your a better man than I for being able to walk away…

  2. Thanks for explaining what “Tilting” means, I keep hearing people say it on Magic Online and had no idea what it meant haha.

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