Improve Your Mental Game Pt. 2 – How To Deal With A Bad Beat Poker Hand

As you could probably tell from Improve Your Mental Game Pt. 1, there would also be Improve Your Mental Game Pt. 2, and here it comes! A bad beat poker hand, or quite a few of them, is something we all have experience with. Bad beat in poker can trigger tilt, so you should learn to deal with it. Maybe you could even avoid bad beat altogether?

Bad news: You can´t avoid bad beat. It is part of poker. Good news is, you can avoid bad play. This is today´s topic. To be honest, I haven´t always been great at dealing with bad beat myself. I have tilted quite a lot when a bad, loose player has got lucky and beat my good hand. I still can´t claim to be a master of mental game, but I´m getting better. In poker, you´re not supposed to win every hand. If you play right, you are supposed to lose in some situations.

What Is Bad Beat In Poker?7-2-offsuit

First of all we need to determine what bad beat is. There is no “official” definition for bad beat. Different players have different opinions on what is counted as bad beat. However, there are some situations that are typically considered bad beats. These can be classified into two main categories:

1. A Bad Player Gets Lucky

This kind of bad beat means you were ahead with your hand, but your opponent makes a bad call and gets rewarded on the turn or river. Your opponent does not have the pot odds to call, but he or she gets lucky and wins the pot.

2. A “Cooler”

When a very strong hand loses to an even stronger hand, this kind of bad beat is called a “cooler”. A full house loses to a better full house, a full house loses to quads or straight flush, or even quads lose to better quads. All of this is possible in poker.

Watch this video from WSOP main event 2017.

Vanessa Selbst hits a full house, aces full of sevens, but Gaelle Baumann wins the pot with quads. Selbst can’t really fold her full house, and is eliminated.

Typically, in a cooler situation both players play well, and it’s just bad luck that a very strong hand loses to an even stronger hand.

Thank Poker Gods For The Bad Beats!

When a bad, loose player gets lucky against your pocket aces and eliminates you from a tournament, you can feel the anger boiling up and before you know it, you are in tilt. Of course, you should not tilt when these bad beats happen. In fact, you should be grateful. I know, it is not easy. But in poker, you should always think about the long term results instead of short term results.

The long term result of the fish getting lucky and winning from time to time is, that they keep playing poker and you win their money. If the bad players would never win, they would quit poker soon. Who would donate you money at the table, then? So, thank poker gods for the bad beats, and the fish!

Did You Play Well?

When you play poker, you should focus on playing each hand as well as possible. When determining if a poker hand was a good hand or a bad hand, you should not think about the outcome of the hand. You can play perfectly well, face bad beat and lose a hand. You should be happy because you played well, and if you keep playing like that, you will win more than lose in a long run. On the contrary, you can play horribly wrong and win a hand, or even a tournament. But you will not be a winning player in a long run if you keep playing like that.

The long run is what matters in poker, and that is why short term losses should not upset you. If you know you played a hand right, you should be happy with yourself.

What If You Tilt Anyway?angry-owl

If you really digest the truth about focusing on the long term results in poker, you will be less prone to tilt from bad beats. However, too much losing in a short period can still be too much to handle, especially for us neuroatypical players. What if you notice you are on tilt at the table?

You are already on the right track, if you are able to tell when you are on tilt. When you know the warning signs, you can do something about the situation instead of completely messing up your poker session. If you are playing tournaments, it is not very profitable to quit in the middle of a session, when you are still in some tournaments. If you are totally tilting, however, you can get up and take a little break. Missing some hands is better than playing hands in tilt, and losing all your chips.

It kind of helped me, when I read that when something makes you angry, the physical reaction in the brain only lasts for 90 seconds. If you still feel angry after 90 seconds, you are actually just sticking to the anger. Physically, you don´t need to feel angry for more than 90 seconds. For a minute and a half, you can let the anger boil in you, you can even rage and curse (not in a live tournament, though, because you don´t want your opponents to know you are in tilt) and then let it go.

If you are upset or angry, it is always helpful to take deep belly breaths like in yoga. It helps your brain to calm down. When you are angry, you tend to breath quick and shallow. Breathing slow and deep is the opposite of that, and it sends a message to your brain that you can calm down.

Bad Beats Come And Go, Let Your Poker Skills Grow

A bad beat poker hand is a hand, when a bad player makes an unprofitable play and gets lucky. It can also be a poker hand, when a very strong hand loses to an even stronger hand. Bad beats can lead to tilt, but in fact we should be happy about the bad beats.

If bad players would never get lucky and win, they would quit playing poker. We don´t want them to quit, right? We should only focus on how well we play each hand, not the outcome of any individual hand.

If you still find yourself tilting because of a bad beat, take a break and take nice deep breaths. You can be angry for 90 seconds and then let it go. Are you even going to remember this bad beat poker hand next week?

Please share your experiences on bad beat! How do you deal with bad beat and tilt?

Comments 8

  • Great article! I’ve always enjoyed playing poker with family, friends, and a few tournaments. I will show your site to some of my in laws since I’ve been introducing poker to them during our game nights. A bad beat is definitely not a bad thing. Like you say, we don’t want bad players to quit. It’s always about how you play your hand and sometimes a stronger hand does come along and sweeps you away. I like to believe I have a good poker face and noone has seemed to figure out what I’m going to do, yet. When something like this happenes to me, I just congratulate the opponent with a smile. You help no-one by being angry. It’s all part of the game and as a player that enjoys the game, I understand that. You can only hope for the best in the next hand. Again, great article and thanks for providing info for newbies out there.

    • Thank you, Jesus! Absolutely, you should never get angry at a bad player who wins, whether it´s online or live. After all, you want them to enjoy playing poker, so that they keep playing in the future as well. It´s a good thing that you congratulate your opponent and smile. A good poker face is also certainly helpful in live poker.

  • Thanks for the info… Great article. I don’t play a lot of Poker. But it drives me crazy when I play Blackjack at the casino and a bad player messes up the cards for everyone else. It is so frustrating. Most of the poker I play is online. And dang it when people go all in on like a 4 and a 6 in their hand. You just got to smile and move on!!

    • Yeah, smile and move on, that´s the best way to deal with those kind of opponents. They just want to gamble, really, they do n´t bother learning any poker strategy, which makes playing against them very profitable in a long run. Thank you for leaving a comment, Brian!

  • This is a true statement. Back when I played I would always analyze how well I played each hand, and if I had a great hand that lost to a greater hand, I very rarely felt as if I lost, since I would’ve played the same style anyway. I never really experienced tilt in poker, though, but I do know if I had, my entire game would be thrown off, so I like your tips here. Just get up, walk it off, do what you have to do, then come back and get some more playing time in.

    • I like your attitude. It is certainly an asset in poker that you are not prone to tilt. I wish I was n´t, but because I know I have this tendency, and a lot of players do, I like to share the tips that have helped me with tilt issues. Thanks for taking time to comment, Todd!

  • I used to go to Vegas every Tuesday and wish I had read this article before. I do agree the long run is what matters most. I was tempted to stop after my first week playing but just made sure I played really low buy in hands so I could play for longer instead of going all in! I’ve never heard the term Bad Beat before but i wouldn’t mind being the player that gets lucky over and over again.

    • You went to Vegas every week, I think that´s even lucky because I love Vegas. 🙂 In poker, you can have days when you get lucky hand after hand, but you can´t always be that player. But you can be a long term winner if you play well, so poker is a game of skill. Thanks for your comment, Bobby!

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