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Bad Beats: Master Them and Use It For Your Advantage

They are as irrational as dreams and they haunt you like nightmares.” 

That is how Ole Bjerg described bad beats in his book ‘Poker: The parody of Capitalism’

Can’t agree more.

But what is a bad beat exactly?

A bad beat is a poker term when a player with a seemingly strong hand loses to an opponent who at first is unlikely to win, but eventually takes the pot with the lucky turn or river card (or both).

There are no strict rules to what you can call a ‘weak’ hand and where the ‘strong’ hand starts. It’s subjective. Therefore many players have their own notions, of what they’d say a bad beat exactly is. 

The thing that all players agree upon, is that suffering a bad beat is a true challenge. 

That is because bad beats go against logic, calculation, percentages and most of the time – against laws of probability.

Especially hard to accept are the bad beats, where a player calls a bet even if he doesn’t have the best hand, the odds are not on his side and everything seems generally out of place with his/her betting, but then he/she still wins. 

The 2 types of bad beats

There are two types of most common bad beat situations.

1.A really good hand is beaten by a better one. 

Did you see the movie ‘Rounders’? It’s one of poker players’ favourites. There is a bad beat scene we love (spoiler alert!) where the main character loses. The story line:

The main character Mikey gets 9♣A♣ as his pocket cards and the flop looks like this:

8♣, 9♠, A♠

Mikey has 2 top pair in a flop. The world is in his hands.

The turn and the river:

9♥ and 3♠.

After dreams about the bright future and all-in, of course, Mikey has to swallow a bitter pill. The villain shows him the bullets or American Airlines or the needles. Call it whatever you want it, it’s still a pair of Aces.

Here’s another bad beat scene from a more recent gambling movie ‘Mississippi Grind’.

If you’re not in a mood to watch the clip: Gerry sees his full house go down the hill for the higher ranking full house. Bam. 

(Oh, and by the way, this is a great movie. It’s among out top 5 gambling movies we recommend for the weekend.)

Both examples show how a good hand wins against the better one. Yet, there are also cases, where luck determines the outcome of the game. Not skill or statistics.

2.A very weak hand wins against a very good hand.

Here’s an example in the form of a meme for a change:

Bad Beat meme

Meme transcript: 

Player A – K♣K♠ (94.924%), Player B – K♦2♣ (5.076%).

Flop:J♥ 4♦ 8♠

Player A – K♣K♠ (99.697%), Player B – K♦2♣ (0.303%).

Turn:2♦

Player A – K♣K (95.455%), Player B – K♦2♣ (4.545%).

River: 2♠

Board: J♥ 4♦ 8♠ 2♦ 2

Outcome:

Player A – K♣K♠ (0%),

Player B – K♦2♣ (100%).

All the examples above show and confirm that bad beats occur even when a player plays a hand according to sound strategy and statistically stands to win the hand. Nevertheless he/she might end up losing the hand, because the opponent simply gets lucky. 

P.s. Borrowed the example from the almighty internet.

The honest truth about you and the bad beats

It’s important to note, that situations where one player is a major statistical favorite to win a hand with more cards to come often occur because of weak play by the opponent.

A typical error in less skilled players is calling too much instead of folding or even raising. A weak player may decide to call on all-in bet before the flop with JQ, or call a bet on the flop when he catches a middle pair and show many more signs of this ‘incorrect’ play.

Of course, stronger opponents accepted this kind of ‘strategy’ well. It lets them profit on their higher level skills. Yet in poker, sometimes a player may win even when he/she plays a hand contrary to the most fundamental rules of strategy.

This means that from time to time the weak player beats the stronger player as the cards come out against all odds.

So maybe if you find yourself giving bad beats to other players rather often, you might want to consider altering your poker strategy a bit.

How to withstand a bad beat?

An important part of being a great poker player is the ability to cope with losses and deal with adversity.”

Ole Bjerg ‘Poker: The parody of Capitalism’

Commonly there are four typical responses to bad beats. These responses may occur single or in combinations: 

  • Denial (this isn’t happening).
  • Personalization and anger (why is this happening to me?).
  • External attribution and increased superstitiousness (damn, this is because I’ve washed my lucky t-shirt).
  • Undoing (the urge to win the money back immediately).

If you recognize yourself after reading the above list, most probably you’re on tilt when a bad beat happens to you. 

Well, get yourself together, mate, because all of these lead to bad play and you don’t want that.

The best decision for someone who is having a tilt after a bad beat is to just remove himself/herself from the table – online or live, doesn’t matter. Take a break, catch a breath outside, run some errands. Recover emotionally and don’t forget that bad beats go both ways. And most importantly – stay logical about the situation. 

From an objective point of view, there is nothing mysterious about bad beats. Even though statistics told you that you stood to win a hand, no natural laws were broken when you didn’t.

Jackpot: take advantage of the bad beats

This might sound like an unorthodox suggestion, but if you come across bad beats more often than you’d want to, consider playing at an online casino that offers bad beat jackpots. 

This kind of promotion gives you a chance to be awarded for suffering a bad beat. Or giving one. 

You could think of improving your chances of triggering a bad beat jackpot by changing your poker playing strategy a bit. 

For example, consider playing all pocket pairs and all suited connectors. This makes you more likely to hit quads, which could either beat other quads or be beaten (which is even better for the jackpot). These cards also give you a chance to catch a straight flush on the end while someone else is working on the other. 

Bear in mind that most of the time there is a set of rules you have to follow. Here are some of the most common bad beat jackpot requirements: 

  • you are not allowed to talk about the jackpot during the progress of a hand. 
  • you must sit at the table with the minimum required number of players.
  • most of the time you must use both cards in a hand (both pocket/hole cards).
  • make sure you are dealt. You only get paid when you were dealt cards in the hand. Even if you are not a winner and not a loser in a bad beat, you would get a table share. 

But what about those rigged poker apps/rooms, you say?

Those who play poker online and live, say that they get way more bad beats online. It gives the impression that online poker games are rigged.

The truth of a matter is that online poker is way faster and you play many more games than you would live. The more you play the more bad beats you suffer, or give, of course.

And regarding the games being rigged – CoinPoker offers a 1,000,000 CHP for anyone who proves our RNG wrong. No one has ever claimed the prize.

You know why? (Spoiler alert again!) It’s because it’s not rigged and you can check it yourself.

Now, we hope you found this article interesting and useful. 

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1 thought on “Bad Beats: Master Them and Use It For Your Advantage

  1. If there was ever an indication that the best poker players are just finance genius’s who found poker first, this article is as good an example as any.

    Thanks for the fresh read on an old ship.

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