Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 187–200 | Cite as

Losing More by Losing It: Poker Experience, Sensitivity to Losses and Tilting Severity

  • Jussi Palomäki
  • Michael Laakasuo
  • Mikko Salmela
Original Paper


In poker, detrimental decision-making as a result of losing control due to negative emotions is known as tilting. Previous evidence suggests that poker experience is related to better emotion regulation in dealing with poker losses, and possibly to reduced severity of tilting in the game. A correlational on-line study (N = 417) was conducted to operationalize the tilting phenomenon by defining certain experiential characteristics that conceivably protect players from tilting or predispose them to it. These characteristics, as well as a measurement of poker experience, were then used in predicting the severity of tilting. It was hypothesized that (1) players with more poker experience are more likely to perceive having tilted less severely, as a result of accumulating poker experience; (2) players with more poker experience have lower severity of tilting; (3) players with more poker experience report lower emotional sensitivity to losses; and (4) players with a higher emotional sensitivity to losses have higher severity of tilting. Hypotheses 1 and 4 were supported, hypothesis 3 was weakly supported, but contrary to hypothesis 2, poker experience was associated with higher tilting severity. It is argued that these results are sensible if experienced players are less likely to tilt in relative terms, per single hand, but more likely to tilt in the long run.


On-line poker Tilting Poker experience Sensitivity to losses Losing control 



We wish to thank The Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, The Kone Foundation, and The Academy of Finland for their financial support in this project. We also wish to thank the following Finnish poker communities for their interest in our research:, and Lastly, we are grateful to Apophenia for providing us with ideas and inspiration.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jussi Palomäki
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michael Laakasuo
    • 1
  • Mikko Salmela
    • 2
  1. 1.Cognitive Science, Institute of Behavioural SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Helsinki Collegium for Advanced StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.HelsinkiFinland

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