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Poker Life – A ‘bad beat’ story

Wed, Sep 14, 9:19am by Poker Guru

I played in the Irish Open a few years ago and outside the venue they had a booth where you could pay 10 Euros to charity and someone would listen to your bad beat story. I love Irish humour and I thought that was hilarious. Who wants to listen to a poker player whining about a bad beat? Why not make them pay to charity for it!

The way I see it bad beats are just part of the game, and the luck factor is an important part of the game. If you want to play a game without luck, play chess. Flopping a set against someone else’s set is just as much luck as that ‘ace on the river’.

What is a bad beat? I have heard some players claim that whenever the favourite in an all-in situation loses, it is a bad beat. Others say that it is only a bad beat when a big favourite loses, and that is probably the most common understanding of the term. Personally I would like to take it a bit further than that. To me a bad beat is when someone loses as a big favourite and the other player has played really poorly. That is something even I find annoying.

Let me give a few examples. Suppose you have A-Q and the flop is AQ7 with two spades. You get all-in against someone holding T-9 of spades. Your opponent with the flush draw and backdoor straight draw has a 35.6% chance of winning. A spade on the river here is clearly not a bad beat in my opinion.

Suppose you have 7-6 and the flop is 7-6-2. You get all-in against someone holding pocket nines and he rivers a 9. I do not think this is a bad beat either. The guy with pocket nines actually has a 28.7% chance of winning here. But let us look at a similar situation. You have A-Q and the flop is AQT.  You get all-in against someone with pocket nines. Top two pair against pocket nines again but this situation is different. The guy with pocket nines only has a 10.4% chance of winning in this situation and how on Earth did he get all his chips in the middle on a flop like that? A poorly timed bluff or a terrible call. Either way this would certainly qualify as a bad beat in my book.

I read about the worst possible bad beat a few years ago. It was Todd Brunson heads-up against another player in a major tournament. Todd was all-in pre-flop with AK against pocket queens. The flop was all low cards, and then a queen of spades on the turn meant that Todd was drawing dead on the river. The tournament was over but the dealer always still puts the river card on the table and it was… another queen of spades! The deal was declared a misdeal and Todd got his chips back. I do not remember if Todd went on to win the tournament but his opponent must have been devastated. It does not get worse than that.

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