7 Top Tips For Dealing With Bad Beats In Poker


Losses in
poker are inevitable – no matter how good you are.

Whether you’re
playing cash games or tournaments, you will experience some devastating losses
in your poker career, which is why you have to train yourself to be ready to
take a big loss at any time.

The worst
part is that many losses come as a result of great plays. While this may sound
illogical, it’s completely true.

Since luck
has a major impact on every hand of poker, you’re going to lose hands that you
play perfectly from time to time, whether you are a victim of a bad beat or a

To best
prepare you for such situations, we’ll explain what bad beats are, how they
differ from coolers, and what strategies you can implement to ensure you are
correctly dealing with them.

What Is A Bad Beat In Poker?

A bad beat
is when you lose a hand, despite having been a big favorite to win.

In every
poker hand, there’s a favorite and an underdog.

If you
watch poker on TV, you’ll see that most shows display the odds of each player
winning the hand before the flop, on the flop, and on the turn. The percentages
change all the time.

An example
of a bad beat would be losing a preflop all-in with pocket aces against T9
suited, although this is certainly not the worst thing that will happen to you
in poker.

I have personally
been on the receiving end of a “one-outer” many times in my career, which means
my opponent could only spike one card in the deck to win – and they did.

Any bad
beat is painful to endure, but you should really try not to let anything where
the odds were under 80 percent in your favor bother you at all.

After all,
a 30 percent hand will win quite often, and you need to understand this if you’re
going to play poker at all.

If you are
easily tilted by
losing any hand in which you are a favorite, you will not do very well at the
tables, as these kinds of “bad beats” happen every day.

How Common Are Bad Beats?

You may be
wondering just how often you’ll experience a bad beat. Unfortunately, there is
no single answer I can give to this question.

starters, you will definitely have nights where you inflict many bad beats on
others and run very well, not having to worry about bad beats at all.

But there
will also be nights when your luck will completely shift, and you will
experience one bad beat after another, which can be extremely frustrating.

likelihood of bad beats will depend on the game type you are playing more than
anything else.

stack games like SNG tournaments are a recipe for bad beats, while deeper games
like live cash games tend to have fewer of them.

That said,
a bad beat in a very deep live cash game can hurt you a lot more than a simple
loss with pocket aces for a 10 big blind shove in a tournament, so it’s all

game type you prefer, you will need to be mentally prepared for bad beats in a
very big way before you start playing the game at any serious level.

What Are Coolers In Poker?

Another type of situation that comes along in poker every so often and can be extremely frustrating is something poker players like to call “a cooler” or “cold deck”.

Coolers are
when you have a monster hand but your opponent ends up having an even better one,
and you lose a monster pot.

One of the
most common examples of a cooler in poker is getting dealt pocket kings and
getting it all in preflop against pocket aces.

This is a
scenario in which there is nearly no chance of getting away from your hand, and
seeing the other person has AA is devastating.

examples can come post-flop, such as making a nut flush only to lose to a
straight flush or making a full house and losing to a higher full house.

In essence,
coolers are not much different from bad beats, except for the fact that players
usually have to get their money in with cooler hands, while bad beats are often
a product of one of the players grossly misplaying their hand.

In either
case, both coolers and bad beats are incredibly difficult to handle, so let’s
talk about some tips on how to overcome them.

Tips For Dealing With Bad Beats And Coolers

As I
already explained, there is no getting around bad beats and coolers in poker.
No matter how well you play, they’ll come your way every now and again.

When you do
experience a bad beat or a cooler, it’s important to keep playing good poker,
which is not always the easiest thing to do.

Some of the
biggest losses I have seen at poker tables have come from tilt that resulted
from a terrible bad beat, with players losing their heads and starting to play
like maniacs.

If you want
to have any chance of being a winner in poker, you need to learn how to handle
these inevitable situations.

1. Take A Break

The easiest
way to regain your composure and get back to playing your A-game after a bad
beat is by taking a short break from the game.

If you’re
playing in a live setting, you can take this break by walking away from the
table, stepping into the lounge area, and simply taking some time to process
the loss.

In the long
run, bad beats are really not a problem, but they may make you play very badly
in the short run. A brief break from the game can help you forget about the
hand you lost and allow you to play well again.

Taking a
break can be more difficult in online tournament sessions as you can’t really
sit out without getting punished, but even this may be worth it if you come
back playing your best poker.

If you run
into a series of bad beats that leave you mentally exhausted, you may still
want to take a longer break. Walking away from the game for a couple of days
and engaging in other activities can be extremely helpful.

you do, you should always remember that bad beats are a part of the game and
are guaranteed to happen often, especially if your opponents are playing poorly.

2. Do A Study Session

One of the
things I like doing after having a bad beat or several bad beats during a
session is going into the lab and studying the hands I lost.

During such
a study session, you may come across some mistakes in the way you played the
hand that may have led to the bad beat happening, or you may conclude that you
played the hand perfectly.

In either
case, you will improve your game for the future or conclude that there was
nothing that could have been done to prevent the bad beat.

Once you
know for sure how the hand went down and that you did nothing wrong, you’ll
feel better about yourself and even more prepared to go back into the battlefield.

3. Maintain A Healthy Bankroll

Bad beats
hurt no matter what, but they hurt a lot more if you aren’t playing within your

Depending on the game type you like to play, there are different degrees of variance you will have to face, and these will also determine how big of a bankroll you should have at your disposal.

If you are
playing a highly volatile game, you should have a huge bankroll compared to the
buyin to avoid worrying too much about individual bad beats and coolers.

your game type, you should never be playing poker with just a few buyins, as
this is a recipe for disaster.

You need to
make sure that bad beats won’t be the end of your game or even your career,
which means you will want to have many buyins behind what you’ve put on the

The deeper
your bankroll is, the easier it will become to tolerate bad beats and the less
tilt you’ll experience.

4. Focus On What’s Important

Before you
even set foot in the casino or fire up that poker app, you should mentally
prepare yourself for bad beats and coolers.

You need to
go into your poker sessions knowing that bad beats can and will happen and that
they don’t really matter in the long run.

Your focus
should be entirely on playing well, putting yourself into good spots where you
are the favorite to win chips, and avoiding making big mistakes.

While you
can’t play perfectly, playing better than your opponents will lead to big
winnings in the long run, and no amount of bad luck can change that.

If you are
focused on your bad beat, you may find yourself chasing losses or trying to
inflict a similar bad beat on your opponents out of spite.

This is a
terrible mistake and will lead to your bleeding chips even further, as there is
absolutely no way to control luck or make bad beats come at your will.

5. Play The Hand You Are Dealt

Poker is all about playing
every single hand you are dealt as well as you know how to. After a bad beat,
you’ll be dealt a new poker hand, and you will need to play that hand.

Instead of thinking about the
loss you just had, you need to reset your mind and start thinking from scratch.

Look at your cards, your stack
size in relation to the blinds, and the action in front of you. Think back to
the preflop charts and positional play and figure out the best way to play this

The previous hand is done, and
there is no way to win back the chips you have lost.

Instead, you can win some new
chips and continue winning as you normally do.

6. Don’t Vilify The Player

Poker player angry with opponent

A very
common thing at the poker tables is for a player to get frustrated with one of their
opponents, considering them to be the villain of the night.

When this
is the case, you will see the player often re-raising against the villain and
playing very bad poker in general against them.

This is
absolutely not the way to win at poker!

No matter
how an opponent beats you, you need to play the best game you can against them
and everyone else at the table.

laser-focused on just one opponent will make you clash with others who
will heavily exploit this personal vendetta you are on, and even the villain
may end up owning your soul with an actual hand.

Always go back to the basic elements of poker and try to
realistically determine everyone’s range based on their actions instead of just
randomly trying to outplay a single player at the table.

7. Be Willing To Fold

Some bad beats will happen on the flop or the turn, and you
will be a heavy favorite when you get your money in. In this case, there is
nothing you can really do to save money.

On the other hand, there are bad beats in which you don’t
get all your money in before the beat happens, and you are now asked to pay off
a large bet on the river by an opponent who is unlikely to be bluffing.

For example, consider a situation in which you make a big
overbet on the turn with pocket kings on a Q-high board with two clubs. Your
opponent calls, and the river comes the ace of clubs. Your opponent now goes
all in!

You may want to make a spite call, despite knowing that your
opponent most likely has the flush or other hand that has you beat.

This is never a good idea, and you should be prepared to
make folds even in situations where someone made a frustrating call on the flop
or turn and caught the miracle card.

Thinking strategically and saving money in spots like these
can be a big thing over the long run, as you will save tons of money by making
the right plays in spite of your emotions.

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