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Tilting - Steaming

by Jesse Knight
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Steaming in Poker
Steaming - The condition of being stuck and on tilt.


Often, when a player is losing, their disposition becomes poor and they lose their discipline. Some players will get downright mean and angry. Players in this condition are “stuck and steaming,” or more commonly “steaming.” Obviously, steaming does not promote optimum play. Players who are steaming tend to bet, call, and raise when they shouldn’t, in a desperate attempt to get their money back. They also tend to say things to the other players that they probably shouldn’t. Usually, players who steam are just going to make the situation worse for themselves. Even professionals are susceptible to this behavior. This is an area which requires mental discipline and self control. If you feel yourself getting hot, you are probably steaming, and it is time to take a break from the game until you can compose yourself.

Many players have a tendency to raise the subsequent pot with a marginal or mediocre hand after losing a big pot. This is known as a “steam raise,” and your opponents will frequently be able to identify it as such. Steam raises are not given the same level of credit as a standard raise, especially when they are made by players who have a history of going on tilt. Players who raise the pot simply because they are angry are at a huge disadvantage. This is something that the more level headed players love to see.

There are other signs besides steam raising that indicate another player may be steaming. Players who are steaming tend to become angry, irritable, and will sometimes turbo muck their hand or get into conflict with the other players in the game or with the dealer. If you see a player doing these things, there is a very good chance that they are steaming, and you should reevaluate their play in that context.

Some players will even intentionally try to push another player’s buttons in an attempt to make them steam or to put them on tilt. They do this by being overly critical, insulting, or obnoxious. Intentionally causing another player to tilt can work to one’s personal advantage, but it can also be bad for the game, because of the animosity it generates. This strategy is really a form of psychological warfare, and it is frequently frowned upon by the other players and by management. However, if it takes place within the guidelines player conduct, it is legal. This means that you must be prepared yourself to deal with other players needling you. Do not let another player’s rudeness or insults affect the way you play. That is exactly what they are looking for.

Poker is a game that requires discipline in many areas, including your psychological approach to the game. Many players have difficulty keeping their composure after a losing hand, or during a losing session, especially if they have taken some bad beats. Losing can be painful and disheartening. Even player’s who know that they will win over the long run may not deal with the short term ups and downs very well. This is perfectly natural, and it is something that many players who have a propensity to steam or tilt face on a daily basis. It is also something that can be overcome. Since losing is what causes you to steam, and you will not always be able to avoid it, you have to learn to accept it when you lose and be at peace with it when it happens, no matter how bad the beat you have suffered. It really is that simple. If you genuinely don’t care about specific losses, you won’t steam or be susceptible to tilt.

Usage: Hot Stuck And Steaming, Steamroll, Steam Raise

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Next Poker Term: Steel Wheel

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