Poker Bad Beats

For those of you that play regularly getting a poker bad beat is inevitable. It comes with the game no matter how good you are so quite simply you’ll just have to deal with them.

What is a poker bad beat? In most basic terms a bad beat is when you get your chips in the pot as an odds on favourite and end up losing the pot because the opponent who was an underdog managed to get lucky. Because of how the game works from a mathematical standpoint you will always have the trouble of bad beats.

For example, if you get all the chips in the pot before the flop with AA and your opponent is holding KK, then the chances of winning are 80%. This means 1 in 5 times you will lose and receive your bad beat. Every single player that plays the game, even the pros get bad beats. The question is how you deal with them.

Going on tilt

When you go on “tilt” it means that you let go off your emotions and basically get mad when you receive a bad beat. Players who are tilted end up playing worse, and can end up losing all of their chips.


Even worse a player who is tilted might try to chase their losses by playing for stakes that are higher than what they can afford. They end up playing against better opponents and the result is that they lose even more. So it is a seriously problem that should be avoided where possible.

What can you do if you get tilted?

  • Stop playing: if you feel like you are tilted then log out of the poker software and turn off the computer. Go do something relaxing like walk your dog, go for a jog or have a bath. Whatever it takes to take your mind off poker. If you have received a bad beat and you are still in a tournament then you simply need to play through it. However, since the tournament entry fee is already paid for, you can’t lose any more money, which is a good thing.
  • Play through it: if at all possible try to have a mentality that no matter how frustrated you are getting you’re still able to make good poker decisions. By practicing you should be able to get the hang of it.
  • Play when rested: it’s easier to get frustrated when you are tired. So try to play when you are well-rested.

The worst time to get a bad beat

Getting a bad beat is horrible no matter when it happens, but there are certain situations where the pain is multiplied. One of them is if you are on the money bubble or just about to get to the final table of a tournament. At these points of a tournament you simply want to stick around so that you’re able to make the prize money. You’ll feel as if you missed out on something and that is never a good feeling.

Furthermore, getting a bad beat when you have a huge stack and so does the opponent, because you end up losing a lot and it can be really demoralizing. Winning the pot means you’ll have a monster stack that you can perhaps use to win the tournament or at the very least make the final table.


Also it hurts to get a bad beat when you have played in a tournament for many hours. It can feel like you have wasted a lot of time, especially if the bad beat was dealt to you right before the final table. However, don’t feel like you are just unlucky at the game of poker. It happens to everyone from time to time – even the best players out there.

Don’t focus on the result but the process

It can be easy to get caught up in all of the bad beats that occur and simply give up due to sheer frustration. However, if you want to adopt a winning mentality in the game of poker you need to focus on the process of playing correctly and not on the result or outcome of the hand.

This essentially means that you need only consider how you are making the decisions of the cards you’re being dealt. Have a mentality of playing the next hand instead of getting caught up in how unlucky you were.

Remember that you are also going to get lucky and deliver bad beats to other players – it’s just part of the game.

Bad beats are good for the game

As weird as it might sound, but bad beats are actually a good thing for the game of poker. That’s because it allows recreational players to get involved in the game and have a chance of winning. If they didn’t have a chance of winning then they wouldn’t play. So because there are bad beats if you’re a good player then you get a chance to play with players that are not as good as you. Over the long term this equates to profits.

Even a player that has very little experience can beat one of the best in the world in a single hand of poker. The game can be brutal at times, which is also part of the attraction. So next time you go all in with a better hand and lose, understand that over the long term if you continue to play the same way you’ll end up winning more than losing.


Now that you have an overview of what a bad beat is and how it can be handled, try to keep things in perspective next time you get a bad beat of your own. It’s not the end of the world and by using it as an opportunity to grow as a poker player you can avoid going on tilt.