Every single day, at every single online poker site in the world, you will hear the same sad story. “I had pocket rockets and this idiot beat me with a flush on the river,” or “I had a pair of Kings and this guy hit an Ace on the river to beat me.” Why do we continually hear these bad beat stories every single day? And these two are some of the more tamer bad beat stories. Are these really bad beats though?
Most of the time, players consider any beat to be a bad beat. That really is not the case though. Most of the time, bad beats should not really be considered bad beats at all. Most of the time the best hand won and the drawing hand lost. If you start with a pair of Kings and your opponent has a pair of Aces, you did not suffer a bad beat if you lose. The Aces had you beat right from the start. If you are holding an Ace-King and your opponent has a pair of 10’s, you did not run into a bad beat. The odds were only about 50-50 to begin with; in fact the Ace-King was an underdog. It does seem that when most people tell their bad beat stories the bad beat was not really that bad. A lot of the time the player telling his story was not a perfect player, or his opponent wasn’t a total fool. How many bad beats have you really suffered? How many have you put on your opponents? I know that bad beats do occur, but many could have been prevented. You do not want to be limping in with Aces or Kings when you could be raising. You don’t want to be calling with these hands after the flop either. You want to push people out. The more you let your opponents hang around cheaply, the more bad beats you are going to run into.
I will admit that there are some true bad beats. Let’s take a look at a few bad beats that you could really complain about for a while. Let’s say for example that you are holding 9-10 of spades. That is not a bad starting hand, not great, but not bad either. You limp in and no one raises. The flop comes eight of Spades, Queen of Spades, and 4 of Diamonds. You now have a straight draw and a flush draw so you raise and are called by two opponents. The turn is the King of Spades and you are looking fantastic. You hit your flush and still have a straight flush possibility. You raise all-in and are called by one opponent. That call worries you a little but you are still confident that you have the best hand. At this point there is really only one card that worries you and that is the Ace of Spades. Your opponent turns over 4 of Spades and 4 of Hearts, but no Ace of Spades. He has three fours but you have him beat with your flush. The river comes four of clubs. Now that is a bad beat. He gets four of a kind to beat your King high flush. Now that one would really hurt. Here is another one. Let’s say you have a pair of Jacks. You raise, are called, and the flop comes 8,9,3. You raise again and are called. The turn is a 4. You again raise and are again called. The river is another Jack so you go all in with your three Jacks. Your opponent turns over Q10 and you are beat because he has a straight. That last Jack that gave you three of a kind also gave him a straight. That is a hand in which you did everything right and still lost.
Bad beats are part of poker. Sometimes you do everything right and still lose. All you can hope for is to get your money in with the best hand. Sometimes bad beats will occur, but you can only control what you do, not what cards come on the turn or the river.