Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Pain of a "Bad Beat"

Recently I was talking to Brad, one of Joe's friends. I had last seen him two and a half years ago, and at that time we played a home poker game during which Joe and I had to explain the rules to him. Now he plays what I guess you could call semi-pro poker, by which I mean he plays online for hours a day and doesn't have a job, but he doesn't seem to consider himself a pro. That's pretty impressive progress in two years.

While we were talking, Brad mentioned that he plays online a ton, and I told him I thought he'd probably get sick of it. For me, I find it hard to justify sitting in front of a computer all day long when that is one of the reasons I decided to leave my old job. Brad says that he actually likes playing online more than live sometimes because he doesn't mind the bad beats as much. I had never heard that before. The only reasons I had heard in support of online play is it's convenience, possible higher earning rate, and faster pace of play (which reduces boredom). He said that online, he expects bad beats and since he plays several games at a time, he usually plays at lower stakes, which makes the bad beats not quite so bad. I guess online the bad-beat pain can also be reduced partly due to the fact that you don't have actual people there looking at you, and since you will be playing another hand immediately (and if you are multi-tabling, you are already playing other hands). I imagine it is also easier to watch a number on the computer change than to watch someone take a pile of your chips.

Personally, I think my problem is the exact opposite. Bad beats don't really bother me that much unless I am playing over my head financially, which is very rare. In fact, I usually feel pretty good after a bad beat, because it means that I probably played the hand well, which give me more confidence. So, playing at stakes that can't hurt me helps me to avoid the pain of a bad-beat. The flip side is that if I don't care about the money, it makes it a bit harder to concentrate on the game. As I've mentioned before, I think concentration is the main factor that separates good players from great ones.

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