How to Deal With Bad Beats

by PokerFanatic | posted in Poker articles

Bad Beats

If you have played online poker for any length of time then you probably have some really great bad beat stories which you share with your poker buddies. You know the times when you have an absolute monster starting hand, and some donk gets the miracle card to beat you. This is a discouraging situation, to say the least. It is a terrible feeling, and can leave you feeling weak, trembling, and angry. As hard working poker players, playing the correct strategy, it is sometimes annoying to watch a fly-by-the-pants amateur player take down some huge pots with terrible cards.

Once you experience these bad beats, it is all too easy to stop playing your A game and get involved in too many pots, raise marginal hands, and to bluff too often. This is called going on tilt, when you begin to play recklessly after taking one, or more, bad beats. To avoid this problem, you must think of poker in a long term view. Each hand is just a small frame in a large movie. Each session of poker you play is connected to the session before. Don’t think of poker in single sessions. It is one, continuous battle.

If you can’t shake that angry feeling, get up and stretch. Take a few hands off, or, if all else fails, move to another table. Don’t let one player get the best of you. Never hold a personal vendetta against a certain player. Don’t attempt to ‘win back’ lost money from someone. Your goal is to gain money from everyone at the table. Small amounts from each player add up. If you play more pots when a particular player who beat you earlier then you would during your normal game, you must stop.

As a good poker player, you will get drawn out. This is what you want. When someone draws out on you, it is because you had the better hand. That is what you want. You don’t want to be drawing to beat your opponent. You want to be the favorite. If you find you are getting drawn out on a lot, it is a good thing, as you are playing better cards, and will win money in the long run. This is a sign of a good poker player, taking bad beats. Winning poker players will take more bad beats then losing players because they will have money in the pot with the best of it more often.

Dealing with bad beats in poker is a good thing. Don’t boil up inside, just continue playing solid poker, and watch who the money will go to in the long run. On any single hand, there is a great deal of luck involved, but over the course of a night, a week, a month, and a lifetime, skilled players will always win the money off poor players. And that is a fact.

Here are a few solid strategies to minimize bad beats:

Resist the temptation of slowplaying monster hands

If you are going to slowplay your monster hands, expect to take bad beats more often then if you don’t slowplay. I have seen many players slowplay their big hands, only to be outdrawn by thier opponents who hit the flush on the river when they flopped top set, and then complain about taking a bad beat. Perfect example: I was playing no limit texas holdem the other day, and had 92 offsuit in the big blind. I would have folded if anyone had raised before the flop. A few players limped in, and the flop came 2 2 J. I bet at the pot, and there was 1 caller. On the turn, I bet again, the my opponent raised me. I re-raised all in, and he called, showing Pocket AA. He became very angry, but the truth is, it was his own fault that he took that bad beat. You need to protect your strong hands with bets and raises. You need to make your opponents pay to outdraw you. Giving free cards is one of the most dangrous things to do in poker. It only makes sense on some boards and should only be used sparingly.

Realize that taking bad beats proves that you are a good poker player

When you are being outdrawn by your opponents, it shows that you are a better player then them. You have the best hand, and your opponents must improve to beat you. Sometimes they will improve, but a lot of the time they won’t. Think of all the times that you were chased down to the final card, then your opponent folded. These are the times that they TRIED to outdraw you, but didn’t.

Don’t always expect to win with big starting hands

For example: Pocket AA in texas holdem is the best starting hand. It is a monster, and often will win without improving. However, against 5 opponents with two random cards, it will lose more then 1/2 of the time. A good rule of thumb is this: Expect your big pockets to lose 1/2 of the time. Also remember that you will miss the flop 2/3rds of the time with big hands like AK or AQ. If you miss the flop, and there are dangerous cards out there, don’t feel bad about laying hands down. Every bet you save by not calling is just as good as good as a bet you win in a pot.

Realize that tilting is the biggest difference between break even and winning players

I think the biggest difference between break even/marginal winning players and guys who consistently win isn’t so much the skill level, but how they deal with bad beats and tilting. When I look at my results, the few times I’ve kept playing when clearly not playing my best due to monkey tilting, I’ve managed to lose weeks or even a month worth of bankroll I had built up. So I think a lot of people would benefit greatly just from spending more time working on tilt control to avoid playing in sessions when you are playing badly. No amount of poker strategy knowledge can save you from going on tilt and it can take weeks of solid poker to recover from one big losing session.

Don’t tell bad beat stories

Finally, don’t be so quick to tell friends about your bad beat poker stories. I doubt they care much. I know on most popular poker forums there are bad beat sections specifically setup to share your bad beats, but talking about them just makes you think about them even more.

The most important thing to remember is to play the best poker you can and stop being results orientated. Focus on always making the correct decisions and less on the outcome. Dealing with bad beats is just part of poker.


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