You're not the only unlucky one in poker

Lee Childs

Re-printed courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

Misery loves company. I’m pretty sure whoever coined this phrase just might have been a poker player. This is why most players spend so much time sharing bad-beat stories and hardly ever discuss their suckouts. The beats usually focus on all-in pots where we had the best of it at some point in the hand and our opponent makes a better hand to felt us.

We also know players who just seem to “run good.” We think they fare so much better than we do and they don’t suffer the same agony we do. Their hands hold when ours don’t. If they’re behind in a hand, they always seem to get there.

I’ve caught myself feeling this way, wondering why I can’t run like them, if even just for one day. I’ve even found myself watching closely when one of these players is in a big hand and even if I like the person, I get some kind of enjoyment from watching them get the money in good and losing the hand. It humanizes them and makes me realize they actually deal with the same issues as me. I’m not happy they lose, but it provides some relief that I’m not the only one going through this torture.

Here are some of my thoughts about what happens when I play and how awesome it must be to be my opponents.

• If they have any kind of draw, they complete it.
• If we get all the chips in preflop, they’re always a favorite, whether they’re ahead or not.
• If they bluff all-in with air on the flop, running cards will come to beat me.
• If I have ace-king and they have ace-jack, I’m a 70-30 favorite, yet a jack or straight comes 100 percent of the time.
• Every time I have kings, an ace flops.
• And most important, I’m the unluckiest poker player in the world.


Ridiculous, right? Of course these statements were made in jest. But be honest, have you uttered any of those statements or something similar before? Do you do it all the time? If you do, you need a serious mind-set check. I have to check and re-check my mind-set all the time. The better you get at this game, the more beats you’ll take. It’s common sense because you’ll simply be getting your money in better than your opponents the majority of the time. You’ll also be getting deeper in tournaments, playing more hands and having more opportunities to end up on the losing end of a 70-30. You won’t get to celebrate as many of the glorious suckouts like your opponents who just “run good” against you. And you don’t want to have those suckouts to celebrate because that would mean you’d be getting your money in with the worst of it.

Be honest with yourself about the game. If you’re going to play poker you have to accept these hard facts. Stop yourself when you utter those aforementioned statements. They’re absurd. The more you think like that, the more you’ll run like that. You’ll misplay hands and make calls when you shouldn’t because subconsciously you just might want to prove you always have the better hand and always get sucked out on. You’ll prove your point and share your misery with those who simply don’t want to hear it. We all deal with the same situations at the tables.

I’ve played about 2,500 tournaments this year and can assure you I’ve taken every beat possible. And guess what? So have the people I feel “run good” and have better results. Those who consistently go deep in tournaments and have better results are simply better players. And you won’t find them whining about their beats. They take them in stride and keep grinding because they know if they stay positive, expect to win and do their best to just keep making the right decisions, they’re going to keep on winning while they leave some of us just sitting there whining.

Decide to Win!

— Lee Childs is founder and lead instructor of Acumen Poker. He also is an instructor with the WPT Boot Camp. Go to