What Is a Bad Beat in Poker?

Last Updated on October 23, 2023 Author:Adrian Sterne

Bad Beat in pokerA bad beat in poker is something that no player wants to happen.

However, there’s a remedy offered for taking the beating: a bad beat jackpot.

Imagine the following scenario: you’re playing Texas Hold’em with cowboys as your hole cards.

After the flop, turn, and river, you’re riding with the four horsemen, ready to hug the chips in the pot and bring them to your part of the table. But the only surviving opponent reveals their cards, and you see that the two community aces found their relatives in the opponent’s pocket rockets. What do you do?

The better question is: what can you do? It means that your K-K-K-K lost to A-A-A-A. What are the chances of that?

Well, anything can happen in poker, and on some occasions, a player who is 100% certain they would win the pot stumbles upon another player with a higher-ranking hand. This is commonly referred to as a bad beat, as it makes you feel depressed. All that hype of the possible win is just gone.

Everybody is aware of a bad beat, but let’s take a closer look at what it is precisely.

Two Main Types of Bad Beat

The less popular type of a bad beat refers to the player winning a hand despite the math not working in their favor. Contrary to all odds, such a player might win simply because their hand turned out to be the best.

For example, they might catch a straight on both the turn and the river, which is unlikely to happen.

However, the bad beat we’re going to discuss here is the first thing that comes to mind is the one described in the introduction. It’s a situation when a player with a strong hand loses to an even stronger hand. It’s just bad luck and can happen to anyone.

Bad Beat and Tilting — When’s the Time to Stop?

One of the main aspects of a bad beat is that the player who undergoes it receives a sort of psychological blow that few can withstand and remain focused on the game. Usually, the less experienced player experiences a tilt, which starts clouding their judgment, making them easy prey for poker sharks in poker games.

Even many experienced players have strong reactions to a bad beat.

Perhaps the best example of a bad reaction is Phil Hellmuth, one of the best poker players in history. Even today, Phil cannot stand taking a bad beat after more than three decades of playing professional poker.

Bad Beat Jackpots Online

A bad beat is an interesting phenomenon. Many online poker rooms decided to use it to help the losing player alleviate their pain, introducing a bad beat jackpot. Simply put, if you experience a bad beat, you’ll get a jackpot, which is sometimes even progressive, meaning there’s a chance to receive a huge prize.

Bad beat jackpots are usually distributed, with the loser getting the largest part. However, the winner and all other active players at the table also receive a cut.

Of course, each online poker platform has rules of what constitutes a bad beat. In most cases, the player losing a hand must have at least four-of-a-kind and lose to a higher-ranking hand. Sometimes, poker sites even add that both hole cards of the hand winner and loser must be included in their five-card hands to release a bad beat jackpot.

If a bad beat jackpot is progressive, then the pot is filled by players paying a small rake every time they play at the poker table that features the jackpot.

Please read the bad beat jackpot rules if you decide to play online poker with this type of reward. That way, you’ll understand the exact terms and conditions needed to win the jackpot, which could further influence your poker strategy on the platform of your choice.

Final Thoughts

One of the reasons why people love poker is that it can evoke a spectrum of emotions in us, making us feel alive. Sometimes, these emotions stem from a loss we didn’t expect — a bad beat. It’s not a common sight, but when it happens, the losing side has all the right in the world to feel sad.

The good side of a bad beat is that many poker rooms offer the so-called bad beat jackpot, which is often progressive and can make the loser the player with the highest win.


What are the odds of winning after a bad beat?

Generally speaking, the odds of winning after a bad beat are slightly lower than before, as players might not be able to follow the optimal strategy due to being tilted. Experienced players might be able to tell if a player is tilted and capitalize on that. Of course, if you can take a bad beat, the odds of winning don’t change as much.

How can players avoid bad beats?

Even though there is no guarantee that bad beats can be avoided, players can minimize their risk by playing tight, aggressive poker and avoiding situations in which they may get outdrawn.

How do bad beats affect a player's strategy?

The strategy adopted by a player can be significantly affected by a bad beat. To avoid losing their chips, players might start to play more conservatively if they are constantly getting bad beats.

How does a bad beat jackpot work?

A bad beat jackpot is paid out when a player loses a hand in a very unlucky way. In most cases, the player has a high-ranking hand and is sure to win the hand. However, an opponent with a higher-ranking gets to collect the pot.

Who is eligible for a bad beat jackpot?

In most cases, all players who are dealt into a hand are eligible for the bad beat jackpot. Online poker rooms sometimes go as far as to cut the jackpot to all active players when the jackpot was won.

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Hi, I am the Chief Editor of top10pokersites.net, this site is dedicated to all thing poker. I have been working around the poker industry for the last 15 years, with different brands. The main purpose of this site is to keep you uptodate with the industry and offer you the best deals around.

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