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Article // Blackjack psychology

How to Avoid Tilt on Downswing

What we actually can expect with negative expected value? At least several downswings. And they may last longer than you ever can imagine. The most important thing is to keep calm.

Whether you're a blackjack or poker player, you have probably encountered a long losing streak. It doesn't matter anymore how the winning odds are in favour for you. Every dealt card is a total cooler. It's obvious that it'll cost you money. But in addition it will drain your nerves and you're likely to end up in tilt mode.

Of course these losing (and winning) streaks will be balanced after long run. The most important question is: ”how you will behave during a log losing streak?”. Another thing to emphasise is that how long your bankroll will survive during a downswing?

In this article, I'll introduce some facts what causes tilting and steaming. Like we all know, there is no sense to lose your whole bankroll when you're angry and can't fully concentrate on the game.

Gamblers Fallacy#

Probably the best known psychological mistake is called ”Gamblers fallacy”. It means a situation where assumptions for future are made by past events. Although when a coin is tossed, getting three tails in a row has only 1/8 chance it's still a fact that after two tails, third tails has 1/2 chance.

Now, many gamblers goes into tilt mode: ”this time I must win”. Then they'll raise bets totally against a reasonable bankroll management (BRM) and eventually end up busted.

Martingale System#

...this leads us to a Martingale. It's a betting strategy mostly used by roulette players. Basically, you keep on betting 1:1 spot. And if you lose the bet, you will double up the bet. Eventually, you will win the bet gaining the original starting bet.

Unfortunately, roulette wheel doesn't have memory at all. It still has the same laws and odds as it had in the very first spin. And would you take a risk - let's say after six lost rounds (-1€ + -2€ + -4€ + -8€ + -16€ + -32€) - to lose 127€ in order to gain the profit of original bet of one euro?

Master of Disaster#

Have you ever had a feeling that you control the game and The House is an underdog? That's totally normal feeling. Especially when you start your session by winning big, something peculiar happens in your brains and you might end up in ”God Mode”.

The truth is that you started in the upswing phase. Odds for winning and losing is not a linear curve going slowly down with negative value. It's not even a sawtooth wave with short, consecutive winning and losing streaks. It's more like a sin wave where both streaks can be quite lengthy. But the fact is that the wave will sink sooner or later.

But hey - you think you've mastered the situation since the start. Why not end up winning big? And if you happen to lose for some ridiculous reason, you can start over again and win even more? Sounds familiar, eh?

Pure Addiction#

Human brains are stupid. Which might be hard to admit. You maybe be very addicted to gambling. The adrenaline rushes both from beating the game feeds your brains like heroine. And the worst part is that even if you lose, your brains still are ”rewarded” by a good feeling. It is easy to explain in that moment that when you lose, it's only clay chips you have to give away (and casinos are well aware of this).

How to Avoid All of This?#

If you recognised yourself from any of the sections, then you're vulnerable on tilting and you need to practice. You need to exercise your brains to sustain in stressful situations and get rid of the beliefs that after the storm it will be calm.

If you feel that:

  • there are consequtive events lead by another,
  • you need to raise your bets to catch losses,
  • you will win each and every round for the whole night,
  • you're playing much more than BRM allows,
  • you get ”kicks” even when losing
then I'll suggest you really re-consider of what you're doing, leave the casino or even completely quit gambling. You are probably already in tilt mode or you might end up tilting. And that mode may be permanent, not related only to events of single session.


Casinos could offer even 99.9% return to player (RTP) and still they would gain much better profit than 0.1%. Because the fact is that if you like to play and gamble, you will have stressful moments with your hobby and your decisions are not clear.

Both psychological and physical condition has to be in shape in order to get better edge for game. Forget the feelings and dopamine rushes. Do not raise your bets based on beliefs. And do not mess up against your bankroll.


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