If you ever see an angry poker player carrying on and throwing a fit about a hand, you can generally assume this player has taken a bad beat. “Bad beat” is a poker term referring to having a strong dominating hand lose to a much weaker hand held by another player.
If you’ve read my previous uplifting article about bad beat jackpots, you might be excited about the possibility of experiencing a large bad beat in a brick-and-mortar casino, but most players hope they can defy the laws of the universe and never have to experience bad beat poker.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing online poker or brick-and-mortar poker, players are constantly getting frustrated and complaining about bad beats. If I had a dollar for every bad beat story I’ve heard in my life, I wouldn’t be sitting here playing a $20 online multi-table tournament; I’d be vacationing at the beach.
Generally it’s the better and more experienced players who are amazed at losing to large underdog hands. Newer players often don’t realize the odds of a bad beat poker hand like pushing all in with AdJc and miraculously beating AsKs by spiking a Jack on the river.
Experienced and educated poker players need to take a step back and realize that bad beats will always happen when playing poker. Most decent poker players always talk about how amazed they are when they experience a bad beat, and they try to claim that it always happens to them. One thing that experienced players don’t realize is that if they are constantly playing with weaker opponents and experiencing bad beats, it’s because they always have the dominating hand.
You hardly ever see an advanced poker player lay down a bad beat on a much weaker player, especially in a no-limit game. The reasoning behind this is because as the better player, he generally has the better hand going into an all-in situation, so it seems like weaker players never experience bad beats. Players have to learn to take pride in generally making the correct play with the better hand and simply brush it off when they finally experience a horrifying bad beat.
Another common topic arises when talking about bad beats: how bad beats seem to happen far more often while playing online poker than when playing in a casino. For years players have spread myths and rumors that online poker is rigged. These players accuse the online card rooms of creating large action hands for the players involved in a game to drive up the size of the pot, which spikes up the casino rake. These myths and rumors are exactly that: all fake. All online poker rooms experience rigorous pattern testing and verification to provide completely random hands for all games at all times.
The truth of the matter is, when playing online poker, you see far more hands than when you are playing in an actual casino. Playing brick-and-mortar poker, you might be dealt around 30 hands an hour, depending on the game, the dealer, and the other players at the table. However, while playing online poker, you are probably seeing 50+ hands an hour. You might be experiencing double the number of hands as compared to casino poker, which might make it seem like bad beats are dealt more often, when actually their occurrence is generally about the same. If you are playing two tables at once in an online poker room, you are easily seeing 40-50 more hands per hour than if you were playing one table in a brick-and-mortar casino.
One last fact about online poker and bad beats is that the majority of players are more hesitant about calling large all-in situations when playing in actual casinos with actual money chips in front of them. Often online players, especially newer players, don’t have a problem pressing the “Call” button on their monitor, even in situations where they shouldn’t be calling. After all, it only takes one click of a mouse. If the same player were forced to push out $85 in chips in a $1/$2 brick-and-mortar casino no-limit game, he might think twice about his hand strength before throwing his money away.
So, all in all, no player can truly avoid receiving or giving bad beats in poker. Taking a hard bad beat sticks out in your head much longer than laying a bad beat down on another player. To keep your game sharp, you must learn to simply blow off bad beats, remain focused, don’t get frustrated, and understand that other players making bad calls is exactly what you really want. These are the players who keep you in the money and make you a winning poker player.