The cliché response to hearing about a bad beat is, “that’s poker”, a response that’s half sorry about that and half shut up about it. It’s rare to find a bad beat that’s interesting to anyone but the person who experienced it, the best stories typically involving two players who are rivals, dislike each other or on an occasion a casino’s jackpot is won.
You have to learn how to accept bad beats if you’re going to play poker seriously. What people often consider to be ‘bad beats’—like getting all-in losing to a two or three outer—are common occurrences, the loser rarely being a big enough favourite for the beat to be considered extraordinary. I understand why people get frustrated after suffering a brutal beat but I don’t understand the numerous eruptions and complaints you see from some players, acting like they’ve never lost a hand before. It’s even worse to lose your cool if you’re still in the game, which happens often in tournaments.
I reminded myself of that after my most recent bad beat at the WPT Championship final table at the Borgata. I entered the final table in fifth place, but drew a good seat and felt confident about my chances had everything gone smoothly. I won the first hand at the table and was sitting in fourth place an orbit later when I played a big pot against Carlos Mortensen.
The first player to act limped for 40,000 and holding pocket kings, I was next up. I raised to 125,000 and the action then folded to Carlos in the small blind. Carlos started the hand a little under a million and announced that he was all in. When the action folded back to me I called and saw that I was in great shape against Carlos’ pocket tens.
My optimism came to an abrupt end when a ten appeared on the door and no help coming was forthcoming. I didn’t catch up on the turn or river and handed the majority of my stack away to Carlos. I still had about seven big blinds left and had I kept it together—and won the next several hands I played—I could’ve made another run.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to put another run together but by staying cool gave myself further opportunities to win than someone who would have become flustered. But that’s poker and you can’t always win with the best hand.