Dealing with bad beats is a big part of poker, and especially tournament poker, when one bad run-out can skittle your chance of running deep or winning big money. So how do you combat that feeling and retain focus when your emotions are knocked out of kilter? We look at the ways you can make the best of a bad beat situation!
Bad Beats: Pat Yourself on the Back
The first thing you should do if you’re getting bad beat a lot is give yourself some credit. It means that you’re playing it right and getting your chips into the middle when you’re ahead more often than not. Bad beats are the spiky side of variance, which hits us all from time to time, but if your range-finding is on point, it simply can’t last forever. Make sure that you don’t get frustrated and allow your ability to get your money in when ahead slip.
Bad Beats: Practice Perfect Bankroll Management
Bad beats are always going to sting. They probably have since the first game of poker made a Mississippi riverboat feel like a rollercoaster. But where our poker ancestors have risked it all and gone broke on a bad beat, you no longer have the excuse of mistakes not being made in the game. Practicing good bankroll management (BRM) will guarantee to lessen the sting from your ‘Big Slick’ (A-K) being cracked by the ‘Johnny Moss’ (A-T).
Bad Beats: Amend Your Expectations
You’ve flopped top set in the second level of a tournament and called off your chip with the nuts, all-in against a flush draw. You’d be incredibly unlucky to lose from here, right? Wrong. All-in with a set against a flush draw in this situation, you’re less than a 75% chance to win the hand. That means that more than one time in four, you should be losing! Comprehending the true odds of any bad beat help you to amend your play and making notes on those players who are always willing to take a 1-in-4 shot is the smartest play. After all, over time, you’re going to beat that player!
Bad Beats: Process Over Results
Players learning to enjoy the process and not the results is an oft-quoted tip in poker, but one that can be harder and harder to stomach with every bad beat. After all, you’re in this game to make money, whether it’s as a recreational player hoping to take down a tournament, or a poker player looking to carve out a career at the felt.
Results-based thinking is the downfall of a lot of very talented poker players, however. Try not to associate losing the hand with playing badly. You can play perfect poker and lose all your chips before winning any money just as you can play terrible poker and win, it’s why poker will always have an element of gambling in it, and why so many new players enter the game. That’s good for you, not bad! Without bad beats, the weaker players wouldn’t keep coming back, so maximise your edge over all you can control, and try your best to ignore the bad beats that you can’t influence.
Bad Beats: Learn How Not to Tilt
Though they’d hardly admit it, many players struggle with the emotional side of poker. The reality is that bad beats hit us hard, and affect us directly. We may have just busted a big tournament or lost a big cash game hand. Why wouldn’t that affect us? But how it affects the next hand or tournament you play is the most crucial element of bad beat thought processes. How quickly do you really get over a bad beat right now? Could you do so quicker? If the answer is no, then congratulations, you’re Phil Ivey, and thanks for reading. If not, then every bad beat is an opportunity to improve your key mental and emotional reactions.
Bad Beats: Stop / Loss
One way to control your tilt or reaction to a bad beat is to have a ‘Stop / Loss’ point. It’s one of the most initially depressing thoughts, to set a point where you will stop playing because you have lost too much, isn’t it? But the truth is that having a lock-down point on losses minimises the pain of a bad day at the office and over time, that has one of the biggest effects on your winning days. Money save really is money earned, so know when to stop if bad beats get on top of you. It all goes back to practicing good bankroll management.