Sucking It Up Against Bad Players

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We’ve all been in this situation a million times, our pocket tens turn into a set when the flop comes down and we bet it aggressively, but there is the one guy who calls and calls until finally on the river he makes his gutshot straight draw and takes us for a lot of chips. The temptation here is to cuss him out, call him a retard, let him know each and every way in which he is a stain on all poker players when he makes such a move. Sometimes the temptation becomes too much to resists and into the chat box goes a disparaging statement against the offending player or you let loose an angry tirade from across the table that includes your opinions of your opponent’s grooming habits.

As much as it provides instant gratification, this is in no way a proper way to react. Not simply because it goes against the more gentlemanly aspects of poker, but simply because of the effect it will have on the game. The offending player will do one of three things: he will shrug off your insults and play exactly as he did, he will laugh at you and make his own comments that will further incense you, or he could take notice that while he won it was pure luck and that maybe he shouldn’t rely on his luck to carry him through.

The first possibility, the opponent shrugging off the comments is the best possible outcome of the three. It is totally neutral, affecting neither you nor your opponent. The second possibility is dangerous, as the angrier you get the worse you are likely to play. Some players are able to contain their anger and continue to play their game, while others play recklessly, trying to teach the offending player by retrieving all of their chips and then some from the offender. There is a word for this: Tilt.

The third option has the potential to be the most dangerous of all. If the offending player starts playing better, you won’t be able to take as many chips from him in the long run. He will not be as weak as he used to be, and not only will you take less chips from him in the long run, but in the short term this could really hurt you as in future hands he could take you for a lot of chips while you’re still thinking of him as the worst poker player you’ve ever encountered. Of course he won’t instantly become a better player when he realizes how horrible he played, but he will have gained a motivation to improve his game and if he puts enough effort into improving, he will do so and become more dangerous to you and the other players he faces.

There is another source of danger: The other players at the table. There are a lot of players who dislike those who can’t take a bad beat quietly and will want to take you down just to teach you a lesson on when to shut up. These players can be dangerous as they won’t actually show they’re annoyed and so you could find yourself with quite the surprise when conflicting when some of these players.

Now, what happens when you do suck it up, take a deep breath, and move on? Here play will continue as it had, with the exception that you are now armed with the knowledge of how your opponent plays. You’re on a more even keel emotionally and farther from tilt.

Of course, if you are playing online you can let out a scream of exasperation, as none of your opponents are around to hear you, although it may annoy some of the neighbors. As long as it relieves your anger and lets you refocus on the game go right ahead and scream.

When you’ve taken a bad beat from an ignorant person who thinks they can play poker, just suck it up and go on with the game, secure in the knowledge that if they continue to play in such a manner you will end up taking their chips.

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