You have been sat at the virtual felt for the past three hours and the money bubble is rapidly approaching.
How you deal with bad beats can and will shape you as a poker player, the sooner you get used to them the better because they are not going away anytime soon so you may as well learn how to deal with bad beats and even come to embrace them.
A player in early position opens for a raise and you praise the Poker Gods as you have been dealt a beautiful pair of black aces. Of course you three-bet and wait to see how villain reacts to your aggression. To your delight he moves all-in for around 60 big blinds and despite him having you covered you fist-pump the air and snap-call. He shows Qs-Jc and we are a huge favourite to not only double up but to now cash and possibly go on to win. That is until the board runs out Qc-7h-6h-Kh-Qd, gifting our opponent trip queens and sending us to the rail empty handed.
You have just endured a bad beat, a quite common occurrence in all forms of poker. They can be extremely frustrating, tilt-inducing even and many players have seen their tournaments fall apart after suffering from one. How you deal with bad beats can and will shape you as a poker player, the sooner you get used to them the better because they are not going away anytime soon so you may as well learn how to deal with bad beats and even come to embrace them.
That last statement may sound ridiculous but if you find that you are having to endure more than your fair share of bad beats then you should be happy. Why? Because bad beats can only happen if you got your chips in with much the best of it and if you continue to do that in poker then you should become a profitable, winning player. Think about it because it really makes sense, bad beats happen to good players more than bad ones. Be happy about them!
Another reason to be happy about bad beats is because they are what keep the weak players from making the same mistakes over and over again. A weak player who cracks aces with queen-jack - like in our example above - will continue to make the same move time and time again because it once cracked aces. That is how bad players think. Sometimes poker rewards the most ridiculous of plays and it often seems unfair but if the best hand held all the time the weak players would quickly go broke, leave the game entirely and that is a bad situation for everyone involved.
If the two reasons above are not enough to help you cope with bad beats then maybe the following tips will. The first is to ensure you are properly bankrolled for the stakes you are playing. Enter two $109 tournaments with from a $250 bankroll and any loss is going to feel horrendous as the bad beat would decimate your poker bankroll but if you suffered 10-20 bad beats to bust out of $22 tournaments from a $15,000 bankroll you would almost certainly be able to shrug off the losses like water from a duck's back.
Tip two involves trying to de-sensitise yourself from the money aspect of the game. This is quite hard to do considering we measure out success in terms of how much money we have won or lost but if you think of your bankroll as units or simply points rather than dollar, pounds or euros then you stand a better chance of being able to keep a level head when you start to run bad.
Another trick to try is to play more volume. If you only play one table at once and a total of 10 tournaments per week then bad beats are going to see severe but if you learn how to play multiple tables at once and up your volume so you are playing 50+ tournaments per week you will start to see the cards fall more naturally and the bad beats be less frequent; and therefore less severe.
Last but not least you should ensure you are continually looking over your hand histories to see if the bad beat you suffered was actually a bad beat. What may seem like a ridiculous bad beat might actually be a standard play when you consider stack sizes and your image; you might actually discover that you misplayed the hand yourself.
All in all play your usual game, review your play, do not take the game personally and play more! Once you gain more experience in the game you will no longer see bad beats occurring, you will just see small blips in your poker progress.