Most poker players who play casino cash games fantasize about just being at the table when a “Bad Beat” jackpot hits.
Having the losing hand to get the lion’s share of the jackpot would be even sweeter but that feels impossible to ever happen. Well, I for one can tell you that if you are as lucky as I was, you too could one day too have the losing hand in a “Bad Beat” jackpot.
What is a ‘Bad Beat’ jackpot in poker?
“Bad Beat” jackpots are very popular promotions in poker rooms across the country.
Each hand, the poker room will take a $1 drop and add it to the jackpot. Then once the qualifications are met, the jackpot is paid out to the winners. For a “Bad Beat” jackpot to be hit, it requires a very strong hand to be beat by a hand that is an even better hand.
A typical “Bad Beat” jackpot qualification would be to have a straight flush beat by a better hand, though some rooms will have different requirements. This is very rare which is why hitting a “Bad Beat” jackpot is rare as well.
The winners of the jackpot generally include everyone at the table. In a typical split, the player with the losing hand would receive 50% of the pot, the winner 25%, and the rest of the table would divide the remaining 25%. It’s the one time in poker you want to take a bad beat.
Michigan online poker sites have not added the feature, but it’s a big deal at casinos across the state. There was a score of more than $800,000 recently at MGM Grand Detroit. Across town, MotorCity Casino reportedly set a national record with a $1.07 million payout in 2018.
Pittsburgh poker weekend started with good fortune
Like many players, I hoped that just once in my poker life I would be at the table when a “Bad Beat” jackpot hit. It’s common to see these jackpots get to over six figures.
In the fall of 2017, I drove to the Pittsburgh area to play in a Heartland Poker Tour event at Meadows Casino. The tournament had two starting flights on Friday and Saturday, with day two on Sunday. My plan was to play on Friday and then try again Saturday if I didn’t get through.
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In the last level of Friday play, I got it all-in with pocket eights against my opponent queens. I only had roughly a 18% chance to win the hand, but fortune was on my side as the board ran out with four hearts. I had the eight of hearts, and my opponent didn’t have a heart, so I took the pot down.
After making it through to Day 2 on my first attempt I had nothing planned Saturday, so I decided to play some cash games. Within an hour of sitting down in the $1/$3 cash game the craziest moment of my poker career took place.
My once-in-a-lifetime ‘Bad Beat’ jackpot hand
I was playing what seemed like a very inconsequential pot.
On the river, the board reads KKKK3. I check the river and my opponent instantly checks as well. He then jumps from his chair and yells to me: “Show your hand, show your hand!” I’m extremely confused at this point, but I didn’t mind showing.
I turn over Q-T and my opponent turns over Ace high. The table erupts in celebration, and I’m extremely confused about what is going on.
The player who yelled to show my hand starts yelling “Bad Beat jackpot, Bad Beat jackpot!” Now, I’m even more confused than I was before if that’s possible. In every poker room I’ve ever played in, it has been a requirement that both players play both of their hole cards. In this situation, we are both playing the four kings on the board with a different high card.
As things begin to settle down, I look to the player next to me and say, “why is everyone saying bad beat jackpot, our hands don’t qualify?” He explains to me that in this poker room anytime the jackpot is over $30,000 the rule is that only one of your cards must play. The jackpot at the time was just under $32,000.
I pocketed a cool $15K on a losing hand
I’m in absolute shock. Not only did our table just hit the “Bad Beat” jackpot, but I had the losing hand — the biggest prize. After everything calms down and we start to get paid out, I’m paid out $15,659 for having the losing hand.
I would play for a few more hours then call it a day. The next day I would play day 2 of the tournament and be knocked out 10 players short of the money when my pocket kings lost to pocket aces. I would have been frustrated had I not just won over $15K the day before. But I didn’t have room to complain.
This would be the end of a very memorable poker trip to Pittsburgh. I didn’t have the success I had hoped for in the tournament, but I walked away with a very profitable weekend.
Poker content creator David Kaye of Mason writes a regular column for PlayMichigan. You can follow David’s poker journey on his social media accounts under the handle “DavidKayePoker.” David is on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Instagram.