The Bad Beat is one of the most sickening experiences in poker. There's really no strategic way around this sucker, and it is one of the biggest causes of heartbreak and mourning that there is.
If you search around the web will find forum after forum of stories of people's bad beat experiences. Some of the stories are truly bone chilling, and if you play poker regularly you will be able to identify, particularly if you've been there before.
Nothing sucks as much as a bad beat. But thanks to the advent of online poker, there may just be a way to get around them.
What is a poker bad beat?
Okay, the best way to describe a bad beat in the game of Texas Hold'em is through example - I'm going to share my own personal bad beat story. Picture some wavy lines as we go back about five years to a younger version of me playing in a high-stakes poker tournament.
By this stage in the tournament, we've been playing for about four hours and in terms of elimination we have got rid of most of the amateur players - we're kind of half way through the entire game. Incidentally, amateur players are a great source of cash but they're really hard to bluff because they don't understand the significance of what you're trying to sell them. Trap 'em or avoid 'em, I say, but don't raise on them without the nuts in hand.
So, I have a tall-ish stack, and I get dealt pocket fours. Now, I'm sitting pretty early in the street and to be honest I'm kind of bored, so I throw in a raise. As a result, only two other players follow me into the flop.
The flop is beautiful because it's mostly rubbish, but it contains the four that completes my set. I get all excited and decide to slow play this.
One of the other guys throws in a raise - he's clearly bluffing, so I call him, and all three of us see the turn card. Oh my god it's another four - I have four of a kind! Struggling to keep my cool here.
Again, this dude raises up on me. It's not a big raise, so I figure he's still bluffing, and I call. The third guy folds out, and the two of us go on to see the river.
Still junk. But my opponent shoves all in. I'm figuring it's a desperate move on his part, and he's going to regret it. So I shove all in too, and smiling the sweetest smile, I turn over my pocket fours.
He has a straight flush.
It sucked more than I can put into words. That tourney cost a bundle to buy into, and I got eliminated about six places before cashing by a person who was playing it straight. The anguish was indescribable.
I mean, yes, in retrospect it was a learning experience, but at the time I flipped out.
How to make bad beats work for you
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, there is now in fact a way to make a bad beat work in your favour. It sounds unbelievable, but it is true.
Several online poker sites are now offering what is known as a Bad Beat Jackpot - it's a progressive jackpot that pays out when someone gets drilled by a bad beat. Here's how it works.
What you have to do is play at a table that is listed as a bad beat table. Then, in every hand, a couple of cents is raked out of the pot and tossed into the jackpot. It grows progressively over time - it's not uncommon to see Bad Beat Jackpots breaking the million-dollar mark, particularly since most Bad Beat Jackpots start to seed at about $200,000.
When someone gets a bad beat - and the site usually carries a condition that the losing hand needs to be at least about quad 8s (it varies from site to site) - this triggers the Bad Beat Jackpot.
It gets divided up among everyone at the table, with the biggest slice of the jackpot going to the person who lost the hand. It's a fantastic way of turning your bad beat around.