You just lost a massive pot after being sucked-out on the river. You were already counting those chips, which would have paid for a home repair or buy a gift for your significant other. Now that those chips are in someone else’s possession and you’re fuming, but you can go in one of two directions here.
If you’re like most poker players, then you’re going to tilt hard. First, you’re going to talk about the hand and how you can’t believe that happened. You’re going to blame the cards, the dealer, Rick Astley, and the stupidity of your opponent for calling. If you take this approach, here’s the reaction you should expect to find: crickets.
If it’s a strong table, then nobody at the table is going to react in any way. They see it all the time. And they know you’re already on max tilt, which means their words can only hurt them. They will allow you to wallow in your misery because it will lead to emotional play, which usually means fast play – playing too many hands. This, in turn, will lead to you putting yourself in many marginal spots or worse. That then leads to other players collecting your chips, you leaving the premises feeling like a jackass, telling yourself you will never play poker again, not even realizing that you’re listening to Barbara Streisand in the car ride home because you’re so pissed off, and then contemplating suicide by jumping in front of a freight train. Eventually, you will calm down, but you won’t feel any better about what happened.
If you want to take the professional approach, then don’t say anything or react in any way after losing that big pot. This needs to be stressed: There should be no reaction whatsoever! This might be difficult to do if you don’t have experience with it, but it will send a powerful message.
When you don’t react in any way whatsoever after losing a big pot, it lets the other players know that you’re a professional – even if you’re not a professional. It’s okay to fake it until you make it. We’ve all been there.
Your opponents will immediately note that you’re not an emotional player and will not bother attempting to press the issue, as in finding a way to get you to bleed those chips with unique plays. Instead, they will tell themselves that you’re a tough nut to crack. Most importantly, this reaction will force you to remain calm. Even if you’re burning up on the inside, you will settle down much quicker, and you will find that there is something calming about this type of reaction to losing a big pot. It’s a stepping stone toward professionalism.
If you really want to show the table what’s up after losing a big hand, fold more often. This might sound counterintuitive because you’re attempting to prove your poker skills, but your poker skills begin with emotional control. If you play fewer hands after a bad beat, it’s actually much more impressive to your opponents than rushing and attempting to get all your chips back by playing more hands.
After you lose a big pot, say nothing, do nothing, and play fewer hands. This is how you will maintain self-control, avoid tilt, stay out of trouble, and send a message to the table that cracking you will be tougher to crack than a coconut.