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Bill Burton is an advantage blackjack player and skilled poker player. He is the author of the best-selling book, "Get the Edge at Texas Low Limit Holdíem", available at 10% discount from the BJI online store, and the guide at


You look down at your starting hand and find the ace of hearts and ace of diamonds. You raise and get some action. The flop brings the eight of clubs, jack of hearts and three of diamonds. It's checked to you and you bet. The turn brings the ten of clubs and again you bet and get callers. The river brings the ace of clubs. This time the player in front of you bets. You call and he flips over the four and six of clubs for the flush. You have just suffered a bad beat.

A bad beat in poker is when you have a good hand that is a favorite to win but is beaten by another hand. Most of the time it is a hand that caught a miracle draw on the river but the player should not have been playing it to begin with. This is more common in low limit games because many players have the "any two cards can win" mentality. Many players will play any ace, and a few players will play any suited cards regardless of the rank. Some players are calling stations that will enter the pot with marginal or terrible hands and then call all the way to the river in the hopes of making their draw. Occasionally they do make their hands and you wind up suffering a bad beat. This is a fact that you must accept when playing low limit games.

Bad beats are a normal part of poker that good players learn to tolerate. As sure as the sun rises in the morning you are going to occasionally get drawn out on the river. This is not so affectionately refereed to as "drowning in the river." Some players complain about getting drawn out on in the game but limit Texas Hold'em is a drawing game. If it weren't, you would be playing two-card showdown. You will lose an occasional pot to a bad beat from these players but their bad play will lose to your solid play the majority of the time. In the long run you will make money from players who constantly chase the inside straights or baby flushes.

Bad Beat or Bad Play

Before you complain about a bad beat, take a look at your hand that was beaten. Did you belong in the hand to begin with? Suppose you played a hand like J-9 off suit from under the gun and made a straight on the flop. It gets down to the river and you lose to a baby flush. You complain that it was a bad beat. The truth is you had no business playing that hand from under the gun to begin with.

Another reason that players suffer bad beats is that they try to get fancy by slow playing a semi-strong hand. This allows the other players to catch up. Donít try slow play or try to get fancy; bet the best hand if you have it. The straight and forward approach is usually the best as there are plenty of players who will call you. Go ahead and make them pay. Why give them a free card if you donít have to?

I was in the big blind with 2- 4 of clubs. Two other players limped in and I checked. Three clubs came on the flop giving me a small flush. I decided to slow play it and checked. The other two players checked as well. The turn brought a fourth club and I lost the hand to a player holding Jack of hearts and 10 of clubs. If I had bet my flush after the flop I probably would have won the pot right there.

Play aggressively from early position with the big pairs but realize that they wonít hold up as often. Some players feel that any time they have pocket aces and lose they suffered a bad beat. This isnít so. Pocket Aces will win the majority of times against a small field but will only hold up only about 35 percent of the time against a full table of calling stations.

Legitimate Beats

There are also instances when your big hand will get beaten by a bigger hand. I call this a legitimate beat which, while rare, will happen occasionally. I once entered a hand with pocket tens. The flop was three aces giving me a full house. One player and I went all the way to the river. At the showdown she turned over a suited ace and queen, giving her four of a kind. I have to admit I was not happy about it but things like that happen. I turned to the player and said, "Nice hand."

Bad Beats Online

Many players complain that they are suffering more bad beats online than they do in a real brick and mortar casino. The truth is that they are seeing more bad beats. On of the reasons is that they are playing much faster online so the amount of bad beats is proportional. In a live game you might be dealt 30 hands per hour. Online you will see 100 hands or more per hour.

Donít Educate Them

In the long run a good player will beat the new clueless players; however with all the new players in the game you will also suffer more bad beats than you would in a game full of skilled players. This has frustrated many veteran players. In the last few months, I have received numerous e-mails from players who have been used to winning and now all of a sudden find that they are getting clobbered by the new players in low limit games

Bad players are overall losers. You donít want to educate them at the table and you definitely donít want to chase them away. If a new player wants to get his education by playing at the table in a live game, you should make sure that he "pays" for this education by the money he will lose chasing down hopeless hands. Why would you want to give this player any "free advice" that he can use to maybe beat you with in the future.

I advise online players to ignore the chat box. Although you may be tempted to berate the idiot for the bad play just keep your fingers off the keyboard.



Some players get shaken up and go on tilt when they suffer a bad beat. You can't let it affect your play. If you get upset after suffering a bad beat, get up and walk away from the table for a hand. If you are playing online either log off of the game completely or click the "sit out " button and walk away from your computer. Cool down and then get back to your game. Part of winning poker is the ability to handle the psychological factors of the game. Bad beats happen every day. It is part of the game. You must learn to deal with it if you want to be a winning player.


Until Next time remember:

Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.


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