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Dealing With Bad Beats

One evening, I was slightly drunk. I was lounging in my sofa, looking at the moon through my french windows and wondering about the meaning of life and such.

I had just finished a slightly negative poker session where I had been the victim of some sick bad beats.

And that's when it came to me. Eureka! The only thing stopping me from doing an Archimedes, was the cold winters of Delhi. 

What was that epiphany?

A word of caution before that - this is my personal interpretation and method to deal with it.

It may be wrong and may not be the best way, but it has worked for me. And that's what I can tell you. After all, most advice is nothing but what has worked for that individual. Let's get to it.

Say you have AA pre flop. You raise your opponent calls. Flop is 248. You bet, villain calls. Turn is J. You bet, your villain shoves, you call. He shows TT. Wow! You love it. Until the river rolls off a T. He wins with a set of tens. You call him names and abuse him on chat. Perhaps, you take a screenshot and send it to your friends to gain their sympathy. And you are left with lesser money, a minor scratch on the wall and a solid pain in your fist. How do you deal with it?

The way I like to think about it is by injecting logic. And there are two arguments I'd like to give.

  1. All the money went in on the turn, and your opponent had two outs to improve. So she had approximately ~5% to win. So 95 times out of 100 you will win. And the rest 5 times he wins. I like to think that I am glad that this happened, he just has 4 more bad beats left to give. So, I am moving further in my poker life. 
  2. If that doesn't work, here's another argument. The simple fact that you managed to get all the money in while you were ahead should be a thing to rejoice. After all, wouldn't you love if all the time money went in on the turn, your opponent had just 5% times to win? You will be printing money in this spot.

Poker is about MinMax - Minimizing losses in a losing position. Maximizing winnings in a winning position. And it is not related to a single isolated incident. But, about long term game. So, you have to think about whether you made the right play which will let you win the most, then that's the best you can do.

I am not saying it is easy, because there is an adrenaline rush which makes your head foggy. But trying to inject logic helps keep the picture clear. I've been through it a lot, and still do to this day. There is no getting around to bad beats in poker. You will be a victim as well as be on the other side sometimes. The trick is to not be bogged down by it and keep on playing your A-game. This is what will make you a winning player in the long run.

Cmon, #stackupyourskills and go for gold!



Mayank Jain

Mayank Jain is a guest writer who plays poker for a living. He writes at on mindfulness, travel and art, among other things.