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Handling Bad Beats in Poker

There is nothing ore upsetting then being in a race for all your chips and then on the flop… BAM! The opponent gets that 7 he or she needed and doubles up on a hand you should’ve won. Welcome to the world of bad beats, where you thank the poker Gods in cases where you lucked out, and curse them to hell and beyond when your opponent lucks out.

What constitutes a bad beat in Texas Hold’em is when you or you opponent goes “all in”, and you’re currently winning the hand but end up losing it by the time the river card hits the table. Let’s look at two things: How to avoid bad beats, and how to deal with them when they happen.

Avoiding Poker Bad Beats

Regardless of what two cards you hold, there is going to be more randomness to the outcome when you go all in pre-flop vs post flop. In one case, there are 5 more cards to come, and in another, there’s only two. One of the things you can do to avoid bad beats is to try and see a flop for cheap in cases when you would be tempted to go all in pre-flop. Even if you have A-K, there are no guarantees that you’ll win the hand. See a flop first, then decide. There are of course situations where you want to go all-in pre-flop with AK, particularly in tournament poker.

Another risk of going all in pre-flop is the number of opponents you’ll face. More opponents involved in the hand means more chances of getting beat.

Pay Attention to the Flop

When you see a danger flop, meaning there’s either pair on the board, a flush potential or a straight potential, then you need to consider slowing down or betting a lot. Factors that can influence this decision include the number of players in the hand, the chip counts of each player, the pot size and the table image of each player. For instance, if the pot is small, perhaps you want to slow down and check and even give up the hand. Obviously one way of avoiding bad beats is to fold, but that shouldn’t be your first move. Perhaps there is a way to still win the hand. Throwing a little money at it and studying opponent’s reactions will provide you with more information.

In flops where there is a straight or a flush potential, meaning someone could be looking for one more card to hit it, but no one can currently made their big hand, consider ending the hand. Take down the pot right now with a large bet. I usually won’t even bother trapping when these danger flops show up. If I do trap, then I accept the risk that they may hit their card and beat me. But if you’re not willing to risk this, then end the hand with a bet. Make is large enough to prevent the opponents from having the pot odds to call you. The problem with a small bet is that someone chasing a card would have pot odds and would call. And if they do hit the card, then what do you do? Bet again? Go all in? Check? Either way, you’re putting yourself in a difficult position, and you are perhaps setting yourself up for a bad beat. Ending the hand prematurely with a large bet is often the best way to avoid bad beats.

What to do When You Experience a Bad Beat

While there are steps you can take to minimize the occurrence of a bad beat, there is only one way to completely avoid them and that’s by folding every hand. But that would be pretty stupid wouldn’t it? It’s just a matter of time before you experience a bad beat, it will happen to you. Mark my words. The very first thing you should do is ask yourself a simple question: “Did I have the best hand when we went all in?” Perhaps the end result was that you lost because an opponent simply got lucky. The fact that you had the best hand when the race started means you made the right play. Congratulate yourself! You just got unlucky, and that happens. And someday, you’ll be the one taking in all the good luck.

You see, in poker there is no good luck or bad luck, but just random luck. I say this because one person’s good luck is another person’s bad luck. You’ll get to experience a little bit of both and in the long run, it all evens out. This is what makes poker a true game of skills and not of chance. If you did have the best hand when the race started, then consider yourself a skillful poker player! However, if you didn’t have the best hand to begin with, then you got what you deserved my friend: An expensive poker lesson.

Mind Games in Poker