Dealing with a bad beat in poker is not easy. Imagine the excitement you feel when a pair of cards almost guarantees a win – and you lose to a weaker hand.
Experiencing disappointment when you don't rake poker wins can be devastating in the short run, but it can also affect you in the long run if you don't deal with your emotions correctly.
What exactly is a bad beat? And what is the best way to deal with it when a bad beat is in your cards?
What is a Bad Beat?
In poker, a bad beat is when a player with strong cards loses to a player with a weaker hand, solely because they got lucky, and the community cards helped them win unexpectedly.
When it seems as if you're the favorite to win and the underdog manages to undermine your efforts, it is important for you to keep your cool. If you allow your unforeseen loss to affect your entire poker experience.
How Often Will You Experience a Bad Beat?
There is no way to determine exactly when you'll have a bad beat since it's all about your opponent becoming lucky despite all odds. However, it is safe to say that every player experiences a bad beat from time to time. In fact, experts predict that you might lose at least once every four hands.
The frequency of bad beats depends on many different factors: how often you play, how experienced you and your opponents are, what your state of mind is, and more.
4 Rules to Beating a Bad Beat in Poker
- Be mentally prepared – According to logic (with the full support of statistics), you are bound to lose at one point or another, even if you have a promising hand. And since you're well aware of that fact, you can't allow your loss to catch you by surprise. If you get into the right headspace, preparing yourself for any outcome, a loss won't shock you enough to throw you off your game.
- Look at the bigger picture – I know, losing sucks – no matter how much you try to prepare yourself for that inevitability. But if you try to look at the bigger picture, you might be able to remain positive even when the game doesn't go your way. Remember that every time you receive a new set of cards, you renew your chances of winning. Who knows? Maybe you will be the underdog the next time you play, and you will be able to rake in poker wins even with less powerful cards!
- Regain your focus – Sometimes, when we fail at something, self-deprecation starts. What did I do wrong? Could I have acted differently to avoid the loss? Am I even good enough to keep playing? But if you let those thoughts consume you, you won't be able to focus on the situation in front of you, which can send you into a tilt. Therefore, when you experience a loss, you should shake it off, clear your mind, and re-focus on the game so you might still have a chance at winning the next hand.
- Know when to fold – Sometimes, even if you have the strongest hole cards – a couple of aces, for example – the community cards won't play along. If the flop and river don't help you create a strong combination, there is no guarantee your aces will help you win. So, sometimes, the smarter thing to do is to fold to minimize your losses ahead of time.
A bad beat is not the end of the world. As long as you know how to regain your focus and remain optimistic, you might still have a chance of getting the upper hand!