There isn’t much in poker that is either as frustrating or as gutting as a “bad beat”.
The term refers to a player losing a hand after seemingly being in an unassailable position, mostly thanks to the River card.
Normally, the player with the better hand will place bets in accordance with the strength of it.
The opponent will gamble that he is going to be saved on the Turn or River by calling, and can hold nothing of any substance at that point in some instances.
For example, a bad beat could mean a Full House over a Straight, or Four of a Kind over a Full House.
In those cases, both players may have exceptional hands, and the River turns the tables one way or the other. This is known as a “cooler”.
By this time, they have been betting with supreme confidence, so the pot can become enormous, making defeat even more sickening.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of excruciating bad beats, and you can see the pain on the losing players’ faces when they realise the extent of their poor luck.
5. Daniel Negreanu vs Tony G
A classic example of a “cooler” sees Daniel Negreanu pinch a $278,200 pot from Tony G, who is understandably bemused at how he managed to lose the hand.
The Lithuanian starts with an Ace and King, while Negreanu is dealt a Queen and a Jack, so they both have respectable cards.
The Flop of Queen, Jack and 6 is excellent for both; Tony G is only one card away from a Straight, and his opponent possesses Two Pair.
When a 10 lands on the Turn, Tony G clearly thinks it’s game over and he’s won the hand. You couldn’t blame him for doing so, and he raises a five-figure sum.
However; Negreanu completes a Full House with a Queen on the River, ensuring that he will walk away with the pot.
The pain hasn’t quite maximised for Tony G though, as he attempts to trap his opponent by checking after the River.
Subsequently, Negreanu bets another $80,000 which is called, and when they reveal their cards Tony G is totally perplexed.
4. Tom Dwan vs Antonio Esfandiari
Talk about bad luck, as Tom Dwan manages to win this hand with a higher Three of a Kind than Antonio Esfandiari.
Although this doesn’t result in the biggest pot, you can be sure that this stung a lot.
Esfandiari is dealt Pocket 7s against Dwan’s gets Pocket Queens, and both players would fancy their chances at this point.
Pocket cards can be dangerous to play with if you aren’t rewarded with good pairing cards, but fortunately for Esfendiari he gets a 7 on the Flop.
After betting $3,300, he is still in pole position right until the River. At this point, Dwan steals his thunder.
The American gets the Queen he badly needed, and subsequently raises the stakes to $23,800 following Esfandiari’s $6,500 bet.
Esfandiari rashly decides to go all-in, and is punished when he is called, and is out of the game following a stroke of desperate luck.
3. Tiffany Michelle vs Marc Podell
As mentioned in the above case, a bad beat on an all-in call is seriously tough.
But unlike Esfendiari, Marc Podell staked his entire set on Pocket 10s before the Flop, which is called by his opponent Tiffany Michelle.
She has an Ace and a 2, both Diamonds, but Podell obviously has the advantage at this point.
When an Ace and the 7 and King of Diamonds come up, it looks like Podell has blown it, as he only has an 8% chance of winning.
That all changes when the Turn reveals a 10, and suddenly it seems as though he may get out of jail.
Unfortunately for him, the final card is less than kind to him.
The 3 of Diamonds is turned over, meaning Michelle has a Flush, taking the $923,000 in the pot.
Podell cannot believe his misfortune, and drops to the floor in a state of bemusement.
2. Marco Ruggeri vs Daniel Negreanu
This time, it’s Negreanu who is on the receiving end of an unfortunate stroke of luck, and it wasn’t cheap for him.
His Pocket Aces against Marco Ruggeri’s Queen and 10 give him an 84% chance of winning the hand even before the Flop, and it looks for all the world like he is going to emerge victorious after it too.
Another Ace comes up for him, leaving him in a very powerful position – though it also strengthens Ruggeri.
That card leaves him two away from a Straight, and he gambles on the River helping him out when a King is revealed on the Turn, betting $4,200.
His luck is in, unbeknownst to Negreanu, as the last card is a Jack, winning him the hand.
Initially, Ruggeri bets a further $10,000, but when Negreanu ups the stakes by $31,500, he goes all in with $105,000.
Negreanu decides to call, and is dismayed when the cards are flipped over to see that the bad beat has dearly cost him.
1. “Jungleman” Daniel Cates v Phil Hellmuth
It’s safe to say that Phil Hellmuth doesn’t respond well to losing at the best of times.
But when he is beaten by a bad beat, he really isn’t happy about it.
Jungleman gets rewarded for his massive bets, when really he was relying on the River the entire time.
He isn’t even in the game after the Flop, holding a 7 and 8 with two 4s and a Jack in the middle.
Hellmuth, on the other hand, has Two Pair thanks to the Jack he was dealt at the start, as well as a King for back up, so he bets $51,000.
Jungleman calls, and when a 9 is turned he is still alive, needing a 10 for a Straight, with only a 25% chance of winning.
Bravely, he decides to raise Hellmuth’s $40,000 bet to $110,000, which could’ve been a seriously expensive mistake.
Fortunately for him and his chip balance, a 10 bails him out, which enables him to bet another $245,000.
Potentially thinking his opponent could be bluffing, Hellmuth matches the stake, and he is pretty furious when he sees that he was narrowly denied an $858,000 pot.