The low-stakes NL games are the kings of the bad beats.
Solid players take so many bad beats that many of them swear that online poker is ‘rigged’. The truth is, the constant bad beats are the result of so many potential bad beat situations that come up. At higher stakes, players don’t call as many all ins without winning hands. In the low-stakes games, players will often call with the worst of it and get lucky.
It’s just the law of averages – more situations, more bad beats. But, there are ways to eliminate many of these situations. When you understand that players at these levels will play weaker starting hands and call you down, you can then form a strategy to protect yourself from a large portion of the bad beats. How do you do it?
How to deal with bad beats
The biggest mistake low-stakes players make is betting too much, or too little in the wrong situations.
Often, betting is just a tool used for the purpose of gaining information. If you can get the same information by betting $1, why would you bet $3? Always think about what is the least amount of money you can bet to gain the information you need, then bet that amount.
Another common mistake that costs otherwise good players the majority of would-be profits is this. They play pots that are too big for their respective hands. For example top pair, top kicker is worth playing in a small pot multi-handed. Holding JT suited, and flopping 2 pair, with a rainbow board of AJT is worth a medium sized pot and caution after the turn. A nut flush with no pair on the board is worth every penny you’ve got.
With that said, how often do you see players involved in huge pots with nothing but top pair? How often do you see players all in with two pair when there are flush, straight, and full house possibilities out there?
You see it all the time, and these are the pots that you need to stay away from. Always make sure that your hand is of equal value to the pot size, if it isn’t – get out and save your money for a better situation down the road. Always consider how many players are in the hand. How likely are you to have the best hand? How much money do you have to call to continue in the hand? Are you likely to get beat even if you have the best hand right now?
Many times a player will move all in with top pair top kicker, trying to keep flush draws out of the hand. If that opponent holds a flush draw and an open ended straight draw, he’s not only likely to call you, but he’s the favorite to win.
For example if you hold As,Kd and your opponent holds 8h,9h with a flop 7c, 6h, Ah. You have a pair of aces with a king kicker. Your opponent doesn’t have a made hand yet, but is a 57% favorite to win. When he hits his card on the turn or the river, this isn’t a bad beat. The hand you held was not worth going all in at these low-stakes.
If a player argues that your opponent shouldn’t have called your all-in with just a draw, he is plainly wrong. Why shouldn’t he call when he’s the favorite? Think about it before you go shoving all your chips in the middle. Let’s now see a more advanced example more likely from a solid player.
It’s a $0.5/$1 NL hold’em game and you’ve got a $90 stack. You raise it to $5 with your AK, hoping to get rid of some opponents. It works and you only get one caller. You now have $85 left in your stack. The flop comes down the same as above and you bet $20 at the $10 pot, just to get him off a possible flush draw. He calls anyway.
The turn comes the 5d, and he hits his card. Not knowing he hit his straight and with a $50 pot, you fire another $30 at the pot. He raises all-in, and you’ve got $55 of the $90 you started with invested in this pot. You decide you’re pot committed, and you call. He beats you and you lose $90. Sound like a typical scenario? This is exactly what happens all day long, in every low-stakes online poker room. But, it doesn’t have to come out that way. Lets see how we can save you some money on that hand, without ever missing any information.
Lets say that instead of trying to shove out a player who either doesn’t know what he’s doing or doesn’t care, you play it differently.
After the flop, you put in a slightly larger than pot size bet, hoping to get him off that possible flush draw. Remember, the pot was $10 when the flop came down. Then, you bet $12.5 at it. He calls your bet. The turn comes the 5d, giving him the straight. You make another $12.5 bet to see where you’re at, and he moves all-in.
In this scenario you only have $30 invested in the pot, and would have to call another $60 to see a showdown. In this situation, you only have 33% of your original stack invested in the hand, instead of 61% like you did in the previous example. So, it’s easier to lay down this hand now, which will save you the remaining $60 in your stack. Playing it this way you lost $30. In the above scenarios, you went broke.
What changed here?
In the examples your opponent was all in after the turn. In the first two examples you went broke, and in the third example you only lost 33% of your stack. The difference in the third example, you didn’t overplay your hand. You made the proper pre-flop raise, you made an attempt to get rid of a flush draw, but you only lost 1/3 of what you lost in the prior two examples. Always compare the size of your hand to the size of your investment. If you can learn to inject just this one, single lesson into your game, you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your bankroll.
You should not play poker for fun the same way you play roulette for fun. Roulette is perfectly random and it does not matter how smart you are, all that matters is how lucky you are. On the other hand in poker luck evens out over the long term and the difference between losers and winners is skill, as simple as that.
On a separate note, the history of casino blackjack is an exciting one to follow. From its origins in dusty casino lounges, it has now developed into one of the most popular online casino games. No one can visit a casino without stopping by a blackjack table. Try your blackjack luck now!
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