In poker online, bad beat is a subjective term for a hand in which a player who had what appeared to be strong cards nevertheless loses. It most often occurs where one player bets the clearly stronger hand. And their opponent makes a poor call that eventually “hits” and wins. There is no consensus among poker players as to what exactly constitutes a bad beat. And often players will disagree about whether a particular hand was a bad beat.
Types of bad beats
Any online poker hand that looked like a favorite to win can end up losing as more cards are dealt, but bad beats usually involve one of two scenarios:
The best online poker player who wins via a bad beat is rewarded for mathematically unsound play. Calling a bet despite having neither the best hand nor the right pot odds to call. Then winning anyway, is characteristic of this type of bad beat. It can also involve the inferior hand catching the ideal cards. When it requires two cards in a row to come from behind to win the pot. For example, catching cards on both the turn and river in Texas Hold’em that complete a straight or a flush.
A very strong hand loses to an even stronger one. This type of beat occurs with some frequency in movies. In the films The Cincinnati Kid and Casino Royale, The Kid and Le Chiffre each lose with a full house to a straight flush.
Reacting to bad beats
A bad beat can be a profound psychological blow, and can easily lead to a player going on tilt. Professional player Phil Hellmuth, among others, is notorious for his pronounced reactions to bad beats. However, suffering a bad beat means that the losing player was “getting the money in good” and in most instances will win the pot. Thus, the more stoic poker players accept bad beats as an unpleasant but necessary drawback to a tactic that works the vast majority of the time.
Bad beats online
In online poker real money, bad beats often lead to accusations that the random number generator is “rigged”, even though such beats also occur in offline games. Many online poker rooms post statistical data that purports to confirm the randomness of the hands generated.
Bad beat jackpot
A bad beat jackpot is a prize that is paid when a sufficiently strong hand is shown down. And loses to an even stronger hand held by another player. Not all poker games offer bad beat jackpots. And those that do have specific requirements for how strong a losing hand must be to qualify for the jackpot. For example, the losing hand may be required to be four-of-a-kind or better. There may be additional requirements as well. For example, in Texas Hold’em there is usually requirement that both hole cards play in both losing and winning hands.
Bad beat jackpots are usually progressive, often with a small rake being taken out of each pot to fund the jackpot (in addition to the regular rake). When a jackpot is won, it is usually split among all players sitting at the table at the time of the bad beat with the losing hand getting the largest share.
Specific rules, collections, payout percentages, and amounts vary greatly from one casino or cardroom to the next and are sometimes changed.