On the commute in this morning, I heard a thought-provoking statement on a non-poker podcast:
Maturity is the ability to pause between The Stimulus and The Response.
Wow. This statement sums up in 12 little words the fundamental secret to fighting tilt at the poker tables. In fact, this is my own method of countering bad beats, coolers, lost-races, and all the other "injustices" I feel when I get stacked by a clueless fish.
I force myself to think through the preceding actions in the hand.
Did I do everything correctly? If the answer is Yes, then this is just a part of poker that keeps the fishes coming back. This is actually a good thing. I welcome bad beats, because by definition it means I played the hand correctly and the bad guy didn't. It means that in the long run, I'll make a lot more money in this same situation than I just lost in this hand.
If the answer is No, however, and I didn't do everything correctly, then I force myself to learn from the bad beat. For instance, did I let the villain see a free card that allowed him to make his hand? Okay, next time I'm not going to play stupid-fancy, and instead I'll charge him to see the next community board card. If he's going to chase, I'm going to give him the wrong odds to do so. If I do that over and over instead, I'll make up for this lost pot of money in this hand.
Poker is a high variance endeavor. It's going to have swings. Some of those swings are going to result in painful stimuli. So what? You have to remember that you signed up for this rollercoaster when you sat down to play. How you respond to the dips is a measure of your growth as a player.
Said simply, how you respond to the negative stimulus of variance is a measure of your poker maturity.
All-in for now...