Rebuilding Hualien, Taiwan Together | Natural8 will DOUBLE all donations | Get Entered into an Exclusive Flipout | Make a Difference Today!

How to Deal With Bad Beats

Shane C

Jun 21, 2023

How to Deal With Bad Beats

Few things are more annoying at the poker table than being on the receiving end of a bad beat. You get it all in with the best hand, yet the cards conspire against you. It can be soul-crushing and may derail a session entirely if not handled properly. Read our top tips for effectively dealing with bad beats and take your game to the next level.

Dealing with bad luck at the poker table is a critical element of the game; it is no different from understanding bankroll management, position, or ranges.

Prepare Properly Ahead Of Time

The bulk of this article will be about dealing with bad beats once they’ve happened. But, in truth, most of the battle is in your head. And it starts before you even sit at the poker table. Coming into a game with the correct mindset is key. If you’re stressed about events away from poker, or you’re simply in a bad mood, you’re less likely to be able to handle a suckout.

Avoid playing when you’re struggling with a relationship, bills, or a job. If you have to play, do whatever works for you in order to clear your head. Meditate, practice yoga, take a nap, pray, etc. This is a highly personal thing and will vary for everyone. All you have to make sure of is that you’re in the right frame of mind before a hand is even dealt.

Understand That Bad Beats Are Part Of Poker

In poker, a "bad beat" refers to a hand in which a player who initially held a strong hand loses to an opponent who had a much weaker hand that, by chance, improved greatly on later cards. This type of loss can be incredibly frustrating for the player who initially had the stronger hand, as it can feel like an unfair outcome.

The probability of experiencing a bad beat can vary depending on the specific game being played, as well as the starting hands and betting patterns involved. The key to handling bad beats is to stay focused on the long-term probabilities and not let individual losses affect your overall strategy.

Bad beats are going to happen. Just like death and taxes, it’s a certainty that players are going to be massive favourites and still lose some of the time. It’s vital that you acknowledge this, understand it, and accept the facts. It will help you to stay emotionally balanced when playing a bad beat poker game.

Imagine if you went all-in during preflop with A-A against 6-5. What a fantastic spot that would be. But the underdog here would still win 19.21% of the time. Run that hand 100 times, and you’re going to lose 19 of them!

If you are able to keep a sense of perspective, it will be much easier to handle bad beats. Another trick that might help is to simply laugh it off. Reframe the negativity in your mind as something light-hearted.

Also, when you benefit from a bad beat, call it out. Tell everyone at the table what happened, even if they saw it. Hammer it home. You don’t need to apologise, as it’s just a part of the game. However, calling yourself out as having benefited from a suckout will help you avoid future bias. Instead of focusing on the negative whenever you receive a bad beat, you’ll remember things in a more balanced way.

Respond The Right Way

Man responds angrily at the poker tableWhen a bad beat occurs, it’s important to remain calm. Remember that keeping a positive mindset and a sense of perspective is everything. At the end of the day, we’re all human, and emotions can get the better of us. But you have to fight it and avoid tilting.

This is another subjective area where everyone will have their own personal tricks to stay focused. Do whatever you can. Perhaps it’s a case of stepping away from the table for a short break. Get some fresh air, smoke a cigarette, stretch, make a phone call; do what you need to do to forget about it.

If you remain at the table, it’s probably a good idea to tighten up a little. Don’t get rash when you might be emotionally unbalanced. Avoid entering pots with speculative hands. When you do play, try to control the pot size.

Do everything you can to prevent negativity from poisoning your mindset. Go to your happy place. Count your blessings. You’re lucky that you have disposable income to play your favourite game when others are living in poverty. Think about your family and friends. It might sound trite, but one’s mentality is everything when dealing with bad beats.

Understand Who You're Playing Against

In poker, understanding your opponents is crucial for success, particularly in the context of bad beat poker. By paying close attention to your opponents' playing styles, tendencies, and behaviour at the table, you can gain valuable insights into their strategies and decision-making processes. This knowledge can be incredibly useful in combating bad beats, as it can help you to identify when your opponents are likely to be holding strong hands and adjust your own play accordingly.

For example, if you know that one of your opponents tends to play conservatively and only enters the pot with strong hands, you may be more cautious when facing a bet from them, as it is likely that they have a strong hand. Conversely, if you notice that another opponent frequently bluffs and makes large bets with weaker hands, you may be more willing to call their bets in the hopes of catching them in a bluff.

Ultimately, the more you know about your opponents, the better equipped you will be to make informed decisions at the table and maximise your chances of success when playing poker. By staying attentive and observant and taking the time to analyse your opponents' behaviour and playing styles, you can gain a significant edge in bad beat poker and other forms of poker as well.

Trust Yourself And Your Winning Hand

Trust yourself and play poker with confidenceKnowing how to tackle a losing hand when all signs have pointed to a different outcome is incredibly important. Still, playing poker is often about trusting your instincts. For instance, when you're holding a strong hand, like four-of-a-kind, there are only a few hands that can beat you.

Your opponent may hold a straight flush or royal flush, and that is something you should be looking out for. So when you analyse which cards are in the game and if such a scenario is highly probable or not, you can navigate the situation better.

If your hand is strong and chances of losing slim, then betting big might be the right move. Trust yourself and your knowledge of poker to minimise the risk of running into a bad beat.

Realise That You Played The Hand Well

Ultimately, for someone to have sucked out on you, you must have got the chips in way ahead. So what more do you want? Isn’t that why we play poker in the first place? All you ever hope for is to find yourself on the verge of winning a big pot with a monster hand. You found that spot? Good job! Keep doing that and you’re a winning player.

Be sure to study the hand after the session to make sure that it really was a bad beat. Are you sure you didn’t just play it badly? Stay humble and be honest with yourself. Don’t be arrogant. Discuss the hand with your friends, which is what you should always do when trying to improve your poker game. This will help you to move on, and at the same time, it will also give you a sense of perspective.

If your opponent really did suck out on you, remember that bad beats are good for the poker ecosystem. Fish wouldn’t take on talented players if they didn’t have an element of luck to rely on. What is it that Phil Hellmuth said?–“I guess if there weren’t luck involved, I’d win ’em all.”

And sometimes, the fortune may come back around in the form of a bad beat jackpot. In poker, bad beat jackpots are a special type of progressive jackpot that can be awarded to players who experience particularly unlucky losses. In order to win the bad beat jackpot, a player must typically lose a hand in which they had a very strong hand, such as a four-of-a-kind or better, to an opponent with an even stronger hand. The specific rules for qualifying for a bad beat jackpot can vary between different casinos and poker rooms.

When a bad beat jackpot is in play, a small portion of each pot played at the table is set aside to contribute to the jackpot. This means that the jackpot grows progressively larger over time until it is eventually won by a qualifying player.


Bad beats in poker aren’t fun, but they’re inevitable. Dealing with them effectively is just part of becoming a winning poker player. Ultimately, handling a suckout is a skill to be mastered. It’s no different to bankroll management, understanding position, or constructing hand ranges. Work on it, and you’ll improve with practice.

Bad Beat Poker FAQs

Q: What odds are a bad beat in poker?

The odds of experiencing a bad beat in poker can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the specific game being played, the starting hands, and the betting patterns used by the players at the table. In general, however, bad beats are relatively rare occurrences that can be difficult to predict or prepare for.

That being said, it's important to keep in mind that bad beats are an inherent part of poker, and even the best players in the world can experience them from time to time.

Q: Why is it called a bad beat?

The term "bad beat" is used to describe a particularly unlucky or frustrating outcome in which a player with a very strong hand ends up losing to an opponent who initially had a much weaker hand but improved greatly on later cards.

The reason why it is called a "bad beat" is because it can feel like an unfair or unjust outcome for the player who initially held the stronger hand. The term has become a common part of poker vocabulary over the years and is used to describe a wide range of scenarios in which a player experiences an unlucky or frustrating end result.

Q: Why do I keep getting bad beats in poker?

If you feel like you are consistently experiencing more bad beats than other players at your table, there could be a number of factors at play. For example, you may be playing too loosely and entering too many hands with marginal cards, putting yourself in situations where you are more likely to be beaten by stronger hands. Alternatively, you may be playing too passively and not making enough aggressive bets to put pressure on your opponents and win pots.

Another possible factor is variance, which refers to the natural fluctuations in luck and probability that are inherent in the game of poker. Even the best poker players in the world can experience extended periods of bad luck and variance, and it's important to keep this in mind and maintain a long-term perspective when playing.

Q: Who gets paid on bad beat jackpots?

In a bad beat jackpot in poker, the player who suffers the bad beat typically receives the largest portion of the jackpot payout. This is usually defined as the player who loses with a very strong hand, such as a four-of-a-kind or better, to an opponent with an even stronger hand. The specific rules and payout structures can vary depending on the casino or poker room, but in most cases, a percentage of the jackpot is also paid out to the winner of the hand, as well as to other players at the table who were dealt into the hand.

Now that you have learned how to deal with bad beats, are you ready to tackle the world of poker? Sign up for a free account at Natural8 and show the world what you are made of.