Wednesday, 18 September 2019

All About Bad Beats In Poker

Pub poker players across New Zealand will be familiar with bad beats but if you’re just starting out in the game, or need a quick refresher on what these are, keep reading. A bad beat, which is sometimes called a suck out, happens when a player who was a massive favourite to win a hand, suddenly loses. Not only can this be very frustrating but it can also be kind of confusing. Well, keep in mind that sometimes, putting a bad beat on a good player is a necessary move if you want to keep low-quality players coming to the game.

A little more about bad beats

Did you know that bad beats are a good sign about the way you play? While it may not feel that way when a bad beat actually happens, being the favourite when the money goes in means you’re playing well, even if the results don’t turn out the way you wanted them to. Because pub poker, especially in New Zealand, has become so popular, there are flocks of players joining in every day which means, of course, that there are just as many bad beats cropping up as well, coupled with the fact that a lot of players don’t really care about improving their game.
And by the way, bad beats happen to everyone, even the most experienced players. This is because even though you can employ certain strategies when you play the game, at the end of the day luck is one of its most important components. And sometimes, luck doesn’t favour who you think it will.
Though bad beats have a bad rap, they are actually really helpful in getting new players into the game as it makes the feel like they can win.

How do bad beats happen?

When you’re a massive favourite to win a hand and you lose, that is considered a bad beat. Sometimes, these can be really extreme if you have pocket aces that beaten by pocket kings because of a third king that made an appearance on the river after going all in on the turn.
All of the experts will tell you that when you’ve got a couple hundred bad beats behind you, you can consider yourself a good player. Doesn’t make sense? Well think about it, bad beats happen when you’ve got a great hand and getting all your chip in but a twist of fate (a small percentage of chance) keeps you from winning. The fact that you have a great hand getting called by a much worse hand means that you’re playing well, even if luck is not necessarily cooperating.

A final word about bad beats

As a good player, you’re going to be inundated with bad beats and here’s why: the game of pub poker sees new players getting in every day and the fact that they’re inexperienced and want to play a faster game means they’re unpredictable. Sometimes, they even have ‘beginner’s luck’ on their side and this can be extremely frustrating, especially if you’ve been reading and researching to try and improve your game.
So what do you do? Well, the only thing you can do is keep playing. Don’t give up. The game of pub poker is a fun and potentially lucrative one for those who have a little strategy and experience behind them and even when it feels like new players are sucking out the win right from under your nose, you need to keep going. As a good player who sometimes encounters bad beats, you can take comfort from the fact that you are doing something right.

Poker in New Zealand & The Law

When I first moved to New Zealand I was given the impression there was a grey area when it came down to what was legal and what was not with regards to the prize pool in a pub poker game.
Some people (and venues) claimed that as long as an individual prize did not exceed $500 everything was ok, whilst others said it had to be no more than $500 in the total pot.
After doing some research its clear from the DIA that the maximum prize pool (not individual prize) cannot exceed $500, and if it is; you are falling foul of the law.
In recent years there has even been confirmed reports that some venues have been raided as part of crackdowns on illegally ran games. These crack downs are due to the pressure from the local casinos – so I’ve been told.
As you can see you only need to have 26 players each paying $20 to fall foul of the law, and depending where you live 26 players might sound like a lot. But for a lot of venues this can quite easily be exceeded.
Another way of looking at it is; it’s only 13 players if you let everyone have a $20 add-on or re-buy on their initial $20 wager. That’s not many people is it?
Whilst the above is covered by Class 1 Gambling, the prize pool is one among a few other stipulations such as;
  • No one can be paid to run the event,
  • The event must be run by an individual,
  • All staked money (minus reasonable and necessary costs) are paid to the players.
You can see it’s quite easy to run a game and limit either the number of players or the maximum wager to count for the maximum prize pool of $500.
But, if we look at Class 2 Gambling, it covers the same details as above, BUT we can look to play for up to $5,000 in prize money. Which is allows us to play for a much great sum.
The only issue with Class 2 Gambling, is that it has to be run by a registered society. – Sounds painful, but it’s really not.
Below is an outline on setting up your own society and the steps you need to take to allow you to play for the higher prize pool. It does require ongoing work, and there is a small setup fee involved but it is definitely worth it. Please note, that this information may change at anytime without notice and its best to check with the DIA and Societies NZ if you are unsure of anything.

How To Beat A Calling Station. Poker tips for New Zealand players

Let’s face it – pub poker is full of calling stations. The high majority of general pub poker players are there for a cheap night’s entertainment and to play cards, and they can’t play cards if they keep folding their hands can they?
A calling station is basically a player who doesn’t like to bet or raise but is happy to call your bets and raises. They are typically a loose passive player. Whilst they generally never lead out or bet they will call you down if they hit anything on the flop.
You should always aim to play in position against calling stations (you want to act after them).

Their play style

Calling stations are going to see the flop a super high percentage of the time. Their preflop hand range is super wide and usually consists of any pair, any connecting cards, any 2 suited cards and any picture card (even with a rag). Due to this wide selection of possible hands they will play its typically very hard to get them to fold preflop.
When it comes to the flop, if they have hit the board and make a pair, flopped a draw of some kind then they will call you down. Typically if they just have over cards they will also call down to see the river. Again like preflop if they have hit the flop in any way they’re typically not going to fold.
Some calling stations will even call down with any pocket pair – even if there are higher cards on the board beating their pair.

Bet for value

The great thing about calling stations is that you will make money and chips playing against them. They are great to value bet against when you have made hands due to the fact that they very rarely fold.
With calling stations you never want to bet small when you have a strong hand, and when I say strong I don’t just mean AK or similar I mean a strong made hand – remember they will call you down with most pairs, so betting Ace high on the flop isn’t always going to be a great move.
You do need to remember though that calling stations will be chasing their draws, you cannot stop this (unless maybe going all in) so you want to make sure when you bet you don’t make it cheap for them to chase their draws.
By making your best pot sized when they call chasing their draws they will be statistically making a mistake and will be losing more money / chips in the long run by making those calls. Yes they will still hit occasionally just be prepared to fold your hand when the obvious draws get there and they lead out.

These are not players to try and bluff

Remember most calling stations aren’t complete idiots, and you can induce bluffs off them when you are out of position. Checking to them give them the power to try and bluff you off your hand – which is a good way to make a few extra chips from their hand which they would have just folded to your river bet after their draw didn’t get there.
Also be warned of random hands though like 2 pair with a picture card and rag card. If you only have a single pair hand and the calling station shows aggression on KhTc7s 5c 2h come the river chances are they’ve got a hand like K2s or K5 and made a random two pair. Pay attention to their play in pots with people and how they bet these kinds of hands so you can make educated calls.

Make sure you know who the calling stations are

You should be making mental notes of all the players at the table when you start playing, pub poker attracts a wide range of players and play styles.
You need to make sure you can identify which players are the calling stations as you’ll need to know which players you can take advantage of. They’re great to play against because you’re typically going to be the one taking control of the hands and the betting. Giving you the ability to control the pot sizes.


  • Make value bets
  • Show down good hands
  • Don’t bluff