Sometimes you do everything right and still lose. Poker players know that not every hand is a winner. In fact, players will actually lose or fold most of the hands that they are dealt. The game requires a lot of patience and can be very frustrating. It is especially exasperating when you do everything right and your opponent does everything wrong and they win.
Sound familiar? Even if you aren’t a poker player, you’ve probably experienced this many times. Think of the person you work with who is not particularly bright or hard-working but just keeps getting promoted. Or the person who eats and drink everything they want, has never seen the inside of a gym and finishes every marathon ahead of you. It can get you crazy.
When this happens at the poker table, it is known as a “bad beat.” You should have won the hand, but you didn’t.
You need to make sure you don’t let a bad beat ruin the rest of your hands. Being overly emotional about your loss—in poker, this is called “going on tilt”—will hurt your ability to go on to the next opportunity. There’s always another hand. Compose yourself and go on to the next. Don’t let your emotions undermine your intelligence.
You see bad beats and the emotional drama that they cause all around you. Alec Baldwin is notorious for going on tilt. Whether it is toward the paparazzi or his daughter, he lets his emotions take over. (In spite of this, I absolutely love Jack Donaghy.)
In business going on tilt can be detrimental to your career—especially if you are a woman. Whether you are a screamer or a crier, showing that side of yourself at your office is going to hurt your reputation. Men tend to get away with more in this area. A male manager who yells is often seen as passionate about what he does. A women is a bitch. Crying? A man would be seen as sensitive; a woman, overly emotional and weak. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.
A recent participant in our women’s confidence building program told the story about how she had been promised a promotion after landing two very big new clients. Her new title would be given to her at the end of the quarter. Unfortunately her boss was fired, and her new superiors gave the promotion to someone who they’d worked with previously, even though he was less qualified. At first she was beside herself and totally slacked off. But once she realized that this” bad beat” was hurting her in the long run, she managed to put it aside and used her energy to find another job with a bigger title.
So it’s best to look at the incident that caused your emotion in isolation and go on to the next project. If you keep thinking about how you were undermined, unfairly treated, or given unrealistic goals and timelines, you will bring that negativity into the next assignment.
The same is true in a relationship. When your partner does something wrong on the way to work in the morning, if you keep replaying it in your mind all day—if you go on tilt—even if they come home with two tickets to Tahiti, the tension will be there and another bad hand will occur. It is a vicious cycle.
Good poker players have the ability to look at each hand as one and done. On to the next. And when they see someone who can’t do that, they take advantage of it and try to use their opponent’s negative state of mind to throw them off their game.
It’s not always easy, but try not to let a bad beat throw you off your game and put you on tilt. Put on your poker face and move on to the next hand.
Have you have experienced a bad beat and gone on tilt lately? I always welcome your stories!
Ellen Leikind is Executive VP of marketing at EDL Marketing Group, and the founder of POKERprimaDIVAS. She is the author of PokerWoman: How to Win in Love, Life and Business Using the Principles of Poker.