Top Five Tips to Overcome a “Bad” Poker Hand

We’ve all been there before. You’re sitting at the poker table, waiting for a hand that’s good enough to play – and waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. Pretty soon, the steam starts coming out of your ears. Then you get dealt another set of napkins, but this time, you’ve had enough: You play those napkins anyway, and you end up getting stacked while the poker gods laugh in your face.

Don’t let this happen to you. The following online poker tips will help you avoid going on tilt the next time you get a dry run of cards at Bodog Poker. Some of it is mindset, and some of it is strategy, but no matter what level of player you are, you can use this knowledge to improve your skills and win more money at the tables.

Dealt a Bad Poker Hand? Our Top Five Tips

1. Accept Your Fate

Every once in a while, it’s good to remember that poker is a game of luck as well as skill. The cards are dealt at random, and you’re never “due” to receive a good starting hand. In Texas Hold’em, the chances of getting dealt pocket Aces are always 220-to-1, whether you’re Phil Ivey or Charles Barkley.

There are other good hands to play besides pocket Aces. Even if you get dealt something as bad as Eight-Seven offsuit in Hold’em, that can be worth an open-raise from the small blind. Having a set pre-flop strategy of which cards to open from each position will help you avoid getting antsy when you haven’t been dealt anything good in a while. The more automatic this becomes, the less emotional you’ll get, and the less likely you’ll be to lose your cool and punt your stack by playing trash pre-flop.

2. Bluff

There is a time to unleash those sub-optimal holdings, though. As any old-school rounder will tell you, don’t play the cards, play the player; if your opponent tends to fold too often in the face of pressure, you can win more than your “fair share” of hands by bluffing more often. They don’t know what hole cards you’ve been dealt, so use that knowledge gap to your advantage.

This goes double when you play tournaments at Bodog Poker. Because of the dwindling stack sizes (relative to the blinds) as the levels go up, you’ll be in countless situations where it makes sense to play any hand you’ve been dealt – usually as a shove. Even the worst hand in Hold’em, Seven-Deuce offsuit, can be a shove if you’re seated in the small blind, and either you or the player in the big blind has just a handful of chips left.

3. Know When to Walk Away

Like the Kenny Rogers song says, you need to be okay with simply giving up when the time is right. This is true when you’re folding individual hands in the moment, and it’s also true when you’re in the middle of a dry spell and you’re starting to go on tilt. If you’re prone to making hasty decisions after getting dealt nothing but garbage for several orbits, cut yourself off before you get to that point. End your poker session, relax, and come back some other time when you’re ready to have fun again.

This also holds true when you’re running a bluff. Let’s say you’re in the small blind in Hold’em and you’ve got Eight-Three suited. This isn’t great, but it’s certainly good enough to open against most opponents. If you get called and the flop doesn’t give you much to work with, be prepared to get away from your hand – don’t throw good money after bad. Treat each street as a separate entity, and make the right decision at every stop, no matter what cards are dealt.


4. Avoid Dramatic Strategy Changes

As we mentioned in Hint No. 2, you can take advantage of players who fold too much by bluffing more. But when you do increase your bluffing range, you should start with the hands that are on the margin of being good enough to open in standard situations. For example, in a full-ring No-Limit Hold’em game, you might normally open nothing worse than Ace-Queen offsuit from under the gun. The first cards you should be willing to bluff with are Ace-Jack offsuit, then Ace-Ten or King-Queen. Keep folding everything else, unless you have a good read on your opponents and you think you can safely bluff even wider.

By dipping your toes in the water like this, you can conceal your true intentions from your opponents, making it less likely that they’ll catch you in the act and adjust accordingly. If you decide instead to bluff with complete trash just because it’s been a while since you got to play, not only do you put yourself at risk with a low-equity hand, you also risk getting found out. This is a sure-fire way to lose big heaps at the tables.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

Everything in life is hard before it gets easy. The more you study, and the more hands of poker you play, the more comfortable you’ll get with everything that poker has to throw at you. That includes all those times when it feels like you’ve been waiting hours for a hand. Practice will help you improve both your poker strategy and your mindset, so you’ll be better prepared for whichever hole cards you get dealt next.

To help you reach your goals, we have a vast archive of useful strategy articles just like this one right here at Bodog Poker. There’s something for everyone, no matter how experienced you are, so take the time to browse through them and see what you can learn. Then hit the tables at Bodog and show them you’re not going to let a few bad cards stop you from ruling the poker universe.