Avoiding Bad Beats

Avoiding bad beats is one of the most important skills to learn in poker. Poker players at any level just hate it when they get a bad beat, they are the most annoying and frustrating hands in the game! So what are they, and more importantly, how can you go about avoiding bad beats?

Well a bad beat is when you are overwhelming favorite to win a hand – but still lose. Often you can lose all your chips and go out of the game on a bad beat, just because you were convinced you had the hand won. There are two types of bad beat in the game of Texas Hold’em poker – the type that you can’t really do anything about and the type that can be avoided.

Here’s a scenario for the first type:

You’ve got a pair of aces, the best possible starting hand while your only opponent left in the betting is holding a pair of fours. The flop comes A Q 4 and your opponent goes all-in. You call, you’ve got the best possible hand at that point. The turn is a 4 and you don’t catch your ace on the river, you’ve just lost to four of a kind. In this case you could not have done anything about it. There is no way you could fold your triple aces, you had the best possible hand. If you fold that you might as well take up knitting!

Here’s how the second (avoidable) type of bad beat plays out:

You’ve got A Q and again only you and MrX are involved in the betting. This time he’s low on chips and is going all in with J 9 out of desperation. You decide to call as you’ve got a good chance of boosting your chips and you feel he doesn’t have a hand. Flop is 10 7 2 and he hits his 8 on the turn for a straight. So how can you go about avoiding bad beats like these? Firstly you need to realize that in online poker tournaments the instances of bad beats are much higher than in real life poker in a casino or home poker game.
There are several reasons for this, but the bottom line is that it comes down to the online poker player being a different breed. The average online player is far more likely to play a hand and is far more likely to be distracted by other games he’s playing at the same time, or the TV, or the kids or whatever. You need to counter this by playing a very tight poker game. Only play VERY big hands and don’t get involved in any hand with more than three callers. Even pocket aces have only a slightly better than 50% chance of winning against three opponents.
So stay tight, and when you do hit a hand, bet big. You want to limit your opponents as much as possible so make a big raise and get them to fold. Avoiding bad beats is a skill that it definitely pays to learn.