Tilt in Online Poker: Loss of Control and Gambling Disorder

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jul 13;17(14):5013. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17145013.


Online poker is a form of gambling where an element of skill may influence the outcome of the game. 'Tilt' in poker describes an episode during which the player can no longer control their game by rational decisions. It leads to a loss of control over the game, a loss of emotional regulation, higher cognitive distortion, and a loss of money. This phenomenon, experienced by most players, could be the gateway to excessive gambling. The aim of this study was to assess the links between the frequency of tilt episodes, cognitive distortion, anxiety, depression, sensation seeking and excessive online poker gambling. Our sample is composed of 291 online poker players, with a mean age of 33.8 years (SD = 10.6). Participants completed an online self-assessment questionnaire, measuring the frequency of tilt episodes, cognitive distortion, anxiety, depression and impulsivity. The findings indicated that the frequency of tilt episodes and cognitive distortion were the only significant predictors of excessive online gambling (respectively, r = 0.49 and r = 0.20). Tilt frequency and cognitive distortion were strongly correlated (GRCS, r = 0.60), moderate to low correlations were found for tilt and anxiety (HADS, r = 0.40), and positive and negative urgency (UPPS, r = 0.27). To date, tilt has seldom been studied, and could improve our understanding of online poker gamblers. It could be a new means of identifying at risk gamblers, and thus facilitating preventive measures specifically adapted to this population.

Keywords: model; online gambling; pathological gambling; poker; predictors; tilt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Gambling / complications
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Internet*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires