Here’s a useful article on bad beats, suck-outs, and ice-cold coolers. We've translated the original French content from the PMU Poker Blog.

Bad moves linked to bad luck, because they feel unfair, are recorded more easily in our memory. Successes provide great sensations, but the pain leaves more of an impression on the mind.

You just need to look outside of poker to see proof. Everyone remembers all their suffering, their physical injuries, their painful exams, their difficult moments which cause pain... On the other hand, we tend to forget the good times more quickly. We tend to savor those moments, to experience them fully instead of rejecting them. The problem is that this rejection of something unpleasant remains deeply ingrained.

All-in preflop with basically the same hand – but one comes out on top

It must also be admitted: We like to complain. How many times have your friends come to you to tell you a bad beat? How many have you heard? They always receive the most improbable blows... You know in advance how the story will end, but you listen all the same, to relieve your friend, and to see if this one differs from the previous one.

The Cause of Bad Beats and Tragic Defeats

Bad beats are an integral part of poker. There is the one we deserve and there is the one we don't deserve.

In the first case, you only have yourself to blame. Did you want to trap your opponents by slow-playing preflop? The unfortunate result could be that you get beaten by a rotten hand that hits a miracle two pair or whatever. You took a risk; don't complain if it wasn't a winner!

In the second variety of bad beat, you played to perfection but your opponent wanted to play this same lousy hand because it was, “his favorite hand with which he never loses”.

  • In the first situation, you can be angry with yourself.
Slow-playing Kings, gone wrong
  • In the second, you are angry with whatever you want: bad luck, destiny, the dealer, the site on which you play, and so on. The player often tries to find a rational explanation for a stroke of pure bad luck.

Sometimes, like Mikita Badziakouski (2023 One Drop Winner), you just smile at how lucky your opponent was.

A bad beat on the Triton Short Deck 500K Final Table

Ultimately, is there a need for an explanation?

A Different Angle on Bad Beats

Yes, bad beats are tiring and sometimes we have them one after another, but what would poker be without these bad luck shots? If all the pre-flop versus encounters were played in advance, where would we find the adrenaline? There is bluffing, which provides a lot of benefits, it's true, but admit that the perception of the bad beat adds some allure.

If the strongest starting hand won every time, there would be less of a thrill. The best things in life are the hardest to obtain. If there were no bad beats, poker would be very sad.

Players cash in on bad beats – as long as they are playing in the right poker rooms. GGPoker and some other online sites run bad beat jackpots – meaning your loss is also a huge cash win. There's always a minimum hand requirement, like having your four-of-a-kind Aces beaten, or another combination.

The best promotions now
100% first deposit bonus up to $600, and free spins and MTT tickets
New spin formats with jackpots up to $150,000
Weekly rake bonuses

Bad Beats = Essential?

This negative element of chance is essential to the game. You have to deal with it – and that's not always easy, because as I told you, sometimes it's something that isn't rational. Of course, there are statistics and probabilities. I have a 70% chance of winning this move and ultimately I lose it. Sure, I had a 30% chance of losing this move, but why am I losing it now?

It's like that. Next time, you will only have a 30% chance of winning, and yet, you will take all the chips. You must first know how to analyze the shot and know if it was played well or poorly played (ranges in poker). If it was played well, the feeling of injustice can still overcome you, but you absolutely must stick to the analysis you are doing. If you played well but lost your way, look no further.

Bad Beat in Poker: When Odds Aren’t In Your Favor

How We Usually React to Bad Beats

It's painful, and following a bad beat, players sometimes tend to change the way they play. Sometimes they want to get back what they have unjustly lost. They are ultimately seeking revenge for the bad beat, so to speak. Sometimes, our rigor disappears, and our plans evaporate... There is a kind of abandonment without necessarily saying it. We no longer pay attention to bet sizes, the chips are nothing more than plastic disks that we throw in the center of the table.

A bad beat taken when you play well is painful, and you have to have an extremely strong mind to take it and mourn your chips. You have to forget about it as quickly as possible and concentrate again. Mental preparation is very important and takes on its full meaning when you have a bad beat.

The other thing you've probably noticed is that the bad beat always comes at the worst time. A pot goes to the chip leader or a player who didn’t need the chips, or the bubble is approaching, or that pot would have ensured your final table seat – whatever.

Indeed, I think that the bad beat is linked to risk-taking. A player who takes fewer risks will be less exposed to bad beats. The problem is that to raise your stakes, you have to know, at one point or another, how to take risks. We decide to make value on the flop, unfortunately, the turn is a card that brings in a draw (which your opponent hits). Trying to mislead an opponent is a risk you take. The more risk we take, the more chance we have of taking a bad beat.

Mike Matusow gets it all-in on the flop, but the turn and river are both sevens

How We Should React to Bad Beats

Risk is an inherent characteristic of poker. You have to know how to take it. We are therefore exposed to the bad beat. But admit it too... If this risk pays off... You will have felt something strong. The adrenaline that poker provides also comes from there and that's also what we like. So ultimately, we don’t hate bad beats that much…

And then sometimes, instead of taking it, we put it! To win a tournament, you have to make moves where you are not the favorite. The winner of a tournament will also have gone through the bad beat gauntlet... They will certainly have taken more than others, but we are all equal in the face of this manifestation of bad luck. We have all already taken some and we will always take more later. We must make do!

If you get an unfair bad beat (so you didn't play badly) and you are not eliminated, above all, control your emotions. How many players come back from the brink with a few blinds and end up making money? As long as you have chips, stick to them. Keep playing well. Even if you lose on a bad beat, if you made the right decisions and played well, you will have already accomplished the main thing and you will have no regrets. Don't try to explain something that is not rational. Accept it.

Lex Veldhuis is one of PokerStars' long-time ambassadors who has received more bad beats than most. Still, he regularly plays (and streams his sessions) on the high-stakes MTT events on Stars.

PokerStars starting out holding online poker games back in 2001 and now the company is worth over 6 billion dollars. They sponsor a slew of tournaments like the European Poker Tour, UK and Ireland Poker Tour, plus a handful of others. Over the years, PokerStars has remained on top of the online poker industry. They’ve expanded to offer fantastic online casino games and sports betting.

Last Words on Handling Bad Beats

If you play poker, you know these bad beat situations. You don't need to play a European Poker Tour or a World Series Of Poker event to understand this topic. The bad beat affects everyone without distinction. There is a certain justice in that.

Take your time. Do not hesitate to think, and to evaluate the risk you intend to take. A tournament is not won on one move, but on a set of good decisions. If you make the right decisions and manage your bad beats, then the road to victory will be clear!

Original article: