7 Tips to Overcome Bad Beats in Poker

7 Tips to Overcome Bad Beats in Poker

I get many people, who are frustrated with variance and down swings, asking me how to overcome bad beats in poker.

In this in depth blog post I’m going to share with you my strategies, hacks and insights to regain your focus after bad beats to return to playing your A-game poker as quickly as possible.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 strategies for how to overcome bad beats in poker.

How to Overcome Bad Beats in Poker

Bad Beat Tip #1: Maintain a Dose of Perspective

When it comes to how to overcome bad beats in poker, what works really well for me is always keeping the perspective that no matter what happens at the table, poker is just a game.

Indeed, when my set gets two-outed by some dude with an overpair, I remind myself that the mere fact I’m playing poker means I’m one of the luckiest people in the world.

The truth is I was born in the first world, was raised in a loving environment, and was given an education; consequently, on a day-to-day basis, it’s easy, most of the time, to take these gifts for granted.

The truth is that in the game of life, I was dealt aces. Most likely you live in the first world, reading this on your $500 smartphone, which means that you were too. Remember that half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day, and the fact they were born into that harsh reality is completely out of their control.

That could have just as easily been you. And then what? The thought of fretting about a bad beat at the table would be a dream.

That fact alone trumps all the possible misfortunes that the game of poker can bestow upon me, and no poker loss can ever take that away from me.

For that reason, while my opponent is scooping up my entitled winnings, I count my blessings in real time:

I am healthy.
I have a supportive family.
I am in control of my destiny.
I live in America.
the list goes on.

In short, I return to feeling grateful and not giving one iota that I just took a bad beat in poker.

For a more in depth look into this subject, watch this awesome video on How to Overcome Bad Beats in Poker

Bad Beat Tip #2: Understanding Bad Beats in Poker

Bad beats are common, even expected at the poker table. What qualifies as a bad beat in poker is any time you put the money in when you’re a significant favorite to win the pot. For example, if you get it All-In with an overpair vs. a flush draw and lose, most would consider that a bad beat.

But the truth is that you’re only going to win that pot roughly 70% of the time, not 100%. The problem here lies in one’s expectation.

Most assume that because they’re a favorite, that they deserve to win the pot, whereas the truth is you’re going to lose more than 1 out of 4 times.

When we begin to think about your chance of winning in terms of expectation, we quickly realize that these non zero probabilities happen more often than we think. In fact, they’re expected to happen.

We need to be mentally ready for them, and as a result, be grateful the times that we do win. By preparing ourselves mentally to lose and managing your expectations, we’ll be more apt to handle a streak of bad luck.

Before we proceed, I would like to tell you about our upcoming mastermind, Alec’s Academy.

If you are an intermediate or advanced poker player looking to refine your skillsets signing up for Alec’s Academy is the best and easiest way to do it.

Bad Beat Tip #3: Reshaping Your Perspective on Bad Beats in Poker

If we want to learn how to overcome bad beats in poker we first have to respect the fact that we actually should appreciate bad beats in the first place.

Sounds crazy, right?

Hear me out.

Without the opportunity to receive a bad beat, it would mean we’re never getting the money in with the best hand. You’re likely a solid, winning player who is more often than not putting his money in with the best of it, right? That means that you’re actually a favorite to take a bad beat, since you rarely get the money in behind!

The truth is without luck, poker as we know it would not exist. If the best hand always won, poker would be like chess and nobody would play for money because inferior players could never win. Luck is the price we pay for being a winning player, and we have to accept that as part of the game.

Luck is the price we pay for being a winning player, and we have to accept that as part of the game. Share on X

Instead of begrudging your luck the next time you take a bad beat in poker, shift your perspective. Thank Luck for allowing you the opportunity to make money and count your blessings once more.

Repeat this simple mantra to yourself to reframe your approach.

‘I am grateful that luck exists because without it I wouldn’t have the opportunity to make money at this game. In my life, I’ve had more than my fair share of luck, and nothing that happens at the poker table can change that. I’m grateful for X, Y, and Z and I’m very fortunate to have that in my life.’

For more great content, watch this video on How to Remain Focused After Bad Beats in Poker

Bad Beat Tip #4: Regain Your Focus After Bad Beats in Poker

If you want to learn how to overcome bad beats in poker, it’s imperative to regain your focus as quickly as possible. As you are well aware, a hard night, week or even month of work can come undone in a slew of desperation and frustration within a few minutes of weakness.

I’ve experimented heavily with various hacks to regain my focus after bad beats in poker, and here’s what I found works best.

Step 1: Accept the Bad Beat

The first step on how to overcome bad beats in poker is to start by accepting them. You cannot change the past and dwelling is counterproductive and will hinder your ability to play A game poker going forward.

While I acknowledge this is much easier said than done, one thing I’ve found works very well is physically saying to myself that I accept what is.

I’ll literally repeat: “I accept that I lost the hand and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

I’ll do this while the dealer is cutting the cards to cool off. Then, I’ll move toward getting myself focused as quickly as possible, before the next hand comes.

But first, there’s a process I like to go through which helps me regain a feeling of control about the situation.

Step 2: Replay the Hand and Correct Any Mistakes

When we take a bad beat in poker it can feel like everything is out of our control. What I find personally works best is focusing on the elements of the game that I can control and forgetting about the rest.

That’s why I always replay the hand in my mind and see if there’s anything I could have done differently. This primes me to always be focused on what ultimately matters – making profitable decisions – and not worrying about the outcome. In the end, winning money is merely a product of doing our job correctly and will inevitably come in time.

Go through the hand you just played, starting with preflop, separating yourself from the results.

Did you play it perfectly?

What could you have done differently?

Explore any ideas here and think outside the box.

Step 3: Change Your Focus

Next, I’ll repeat a positive mantra to myself to help me regain my focus after taking a bad beat. I’ll always put the attention on taking the necessary actions to help me win my money back as fast as possible.

I may say something like, ‘I am present and focused at the poker table. I care only about what I can control. My goal is to play the next hand the best way possible.’

This simple, yet effective mantra helps condition me to return to making solid, profitable decisions. That momentum slowly builds upon itself starting as soon as the next hand.

Let’s say I look down at a tempting, yet unplayable hand like J9ss. I may want to play this hand even in early position in an attempt to win my money back, but I know it’s not a profitable long-term decision.

By telling myself clearly that ‘my goal is to play the next hand the best way possible’, I’ve returned my focus to something I have complete control over, which in turn makes it easier to fold that unplayable hand. I can then begin the grind of starting to recover my losses.

Step 4: Hack Your Focus at the Poker Table

A hack I’ve found works really well for me is forming a habit which conditions me to immediately regain my focus, just like an athlete does in a sporting event.

You’ll notice in observing high performers that they always have ritual they follow to help get them in the zone. Take tennis players for example. If you watch them closely you’ll see they go through the same routine before each point they serve: dribble the ball slowly, check the competition, exhale and serve.

I do the same thing at the poker table. Whenever I notice myself getting frustrated or losing focus, I’ve found that taking some sort of physical action helps center me and keep me present.

This started with closing my eyes for two seconds, taking a deep inhale and then exhaling slowly.

This worked well for me, and that simple yet refreshing action helped regain my attention.

But I’m always looking to push the envelope and creative ways to take my focus and mental game to the next level to really solve the problem of how to overcome bad beats in poker.

Nearly ten years ago, I was introduced to essential oils by a mentor of mine who swore by them. She said it helped her relax and calm down in times of stress and helped her focus when she needed to crush a project. She suggested I give them a try to help give me an edge in poker.

I began using them at home with a diffuser after my sessions to transition from the high intensity and adrenaline filled sessions to help me calm down before bed.

The effects were immediate, and I made it a routine ritual. Over the years I experimented with every scent, from lavender to frankincense, from tea tree to ylang-ylang, until I found my favorite combination. I would then combine a few drops of each to mix up a concoction of my favorite blend, just like you would for your favorite smoothie in the kitchen.

Over time, I had conditioned myself to calm down whenever I smelled my favorite scents, just like a little Pavlovian dog. It became a ritual of sorts, like drinking your coffee in the morning, and I found that with practice I could change my mood from a simple fragrance.

I took it one step further and created a blend for focus while working so I could be more productive during the day, and use it before my poker sessions when it was game time.

And while this worked well for me for years, I always wished I could have a whiff of these scents when I needed them most, while I was at the poker table.

When I founded ConsciousPoker, one thing I was committed to right away was not only providing the best strategy content and products in the world, but those to help with mindset as well, something which I deeply credit my success in poker over the years.

That mission was the inspiration for our unique way of bringing these incredible scents, which have been engineered over the years to help you calm down and regain focus as fast as possible to you at the poker table.

ConsciousPoker Essential Oils

At ConsciousPoker we’ve created two unique blends of essential oils for peak performance: Tilt Recovery and Fast Focus, each with proprietary blends of the highest quality essential oils, engineered to help you recover faster and regain focus quicker.

But we didn’t stop there. I wanted a creative and unique way to bring this scent around with me, without having to constantly open the bottle and pour on a few drops. So I’ve created arguably my favorite Conscious Poker product, our necklace, which comes equipped with a felt pad inside of our Tree of Life logo where you can put a few drops of your favorite essential oil and simply smell it whenever you want to play better poker.

Our necklaces are sleek , modern and cool to wear and designed by Conscious Poker in partnership with 9Millimetri, an Italian jewelry brand from Rome which hand makes some of the finest products in the industry.

To use the oils and necklace together is easy. Simply add one to two drops (our oils are extremely potent) to the inside of the felt pad of your necklace, and you’re good to go.

Whenever those unfortunate, but inevitable bad beats come, close your eyes, take a deep inhale and smell the scent, while telling yourself how you want to act, perform and feel and exhale.

Of course, this isn’t magic, it’s just a simple hack which has worked really well for me over the years, and I hope that I can share it with many of you who can get similar benefits.

Bad Beat Tip #5: Focus on the Next Hand

If you want to learn how to overcome bad beats in poker, you have to make your goal is to get back to focusing on playing the next hand well as quickly as possible.

To recap, your process should look something like this:

  • Determine what you could have done differently if anything.
    Repeat: “The next time I am in that situation I will do this instead.”
  • Accept the bad beat and count your blessings outside of poker, which should make the bad beat feel insignificant.Repeat: “I accept that I lost the hand. I am grateful my family is safe and healthy and I live in the first world.”
  • Come up with a clear, concise and positive affirmation to yourself about how you want to think, feel and perform, placing the focus on what you can control. This is the one I use. Feel free to borrow it if it works for you. Repeat: “I am present and focused at the poker table. I care only about what I can control. My goal is to play the next hand the best way possible.”
  • Try out our essential oil blends to condition yourself to be calm and focused with a scent.

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

If after doing all these steps you still cannot regain your focus, try taking a break. Go on a walk, answer a few emails or make a phone call. I find that doing something productive helps me channel energy toward something positive and reduces the frustration I’m feeling in the moment.

If all else fails, try the most irreverent idea of all.

Bad Beat Tip #6: Rip Up Money

I find that when playing poker it’s easy to get desensitized to the money and lose appreciation for its significance in the real world.

This happens because we build up a tolerance for gambling and the money no longer seems real or important. Just like a regular drinker doesn’t get buzzed off a glass of wine, we no longer feel stimulation from playing poker.

This truth is pronounced when we’re losing, especially after taking a bad beat. After all, when you’re stuck $500, caring about a $15 raise preflop is extremely difficult and can feel pointless.

The solution?

Rip up money.

While on a break from the poker table I take out a $1, $5 or $10 bill (depending on how stuck or tilted I am) and literally rip it in half and throw it away.

This blasphemous, ridiculous act is extremely painful because wasting money is careless and it hurts. But it serves a purpose. I’m immediately transported back into reality and reminded that the money is real and it matters outside the poker table.

This gives me a much needed perspective shift and helps recenter me to care once again about even the most seemingly trivial pots. Honestly, of all the tips above, this is one of the most practical and immediate for how to overcome bad beats in poker.

Bad Beat Tip #7: Know When to Fold Em

As Kenny Rogers says, ‘you have to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em. ‘ If after trying everything in this guide on how to overcome bad beats in poker using the six steps listed above and you’re still feeling frustrated or impatient, simply pick up and walk away.

Of course this is easier said than done, especially while losing. As Tommy Angelo famously states, ‘quitting is the easy part. The hard part is standing up.’

This is why I’ve found it best to have an accountability system which keeps me in check. Having someone whom I share my wins and losses with after each session and review hands with helps motivate me to make better, more profitable decisions at the poker table.

I sympathize with the fact that not everyone has a support group of aspiring players with similar goals, nor people whom they can discuss poker with at a high level, which is why we created the Conscious Poker Membership Program.

The Conscious Poker Membership

I truly believe it’s the best investment for a poker program on the market given what it costs.

In addition to getting new in depth strategy videos from me on a weekly basis, with content I only share within our enclosed membership, you’ll also get monthly group coaching with me, which is your chance to ask me any questions you have and get immediate feedback on your game.

We also have a members only area moderated by myself and a ConsciousPoker certified coach where you can get advice on anything and everything poker related, and share hands and session reports. This has proven to be an invaluable resource for our members because knowing they’re going to share their results with other members who hold them accountable helps everyone to elevate their game.

Conscious Poker Membership Free Trial

Lastly, when you confirm your Memberhsip, you’ll get access to our mini-courses (previously sold for $197), called Hand Reading Foundation where I share the exact Four Step Process I use to make decisions in each and every hand I play, as well as Mastering Poker Math, the ultimate course to help with your fundamentals.

To learn more about our awesome membership, click here.

I hope you enjoyed this in depth blog post on how to overcome bad beats in poker. If you found it valuable, the highest compliment you could give us is sharing it with someone who would benefit.

Now it’s on you! I’d love if you shared your thoughts on how to overcome bad beats in poker. Leave me a comment below.

Thanks for your attention.

Alec Torelli
Welcome! I'm Alec Torelli, founder of Conscious Poker, a training site dedicated to transforming good players into great ones by providing the best poker strategy and mindset content. I've been a professional poker player for 15 years and have over $1,500,000 in tournament winnings and millions more in both live and online cash games. On this site, I share the lessons I learned during my poker career to help you crush the games, optimize your bankroll, make winning decisions and achieve your poker goals.

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