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. Sorel Mizzi vs Phil Laak
Phil Laak somehow comes off second best in this truly incredible hand against Sorel Mizzi.
Both players are dealt Ace and King of the same suit; Mizzi has Clubs, while Laak has Hearts.
After a number of bets and raises, Mizzi eventually takes the plunge and goes all-in with his stack of $421,000, and is called by his opponent.
The Flop fails to produce a Heart, so Laak cannot win, and his best hope is for a split pot.
Unfortunately for him, Mizzi needs two Clubs to complete a Flush.
Tension builds when the Turn adds a Club, and Mizzi even goes round the table to stand with Laak ahead of the River.
Remarkably, Mizzi does get a Flush and saves his skin, while Laak is eliminated from the game in the most cruel manner.
3. Kauvsegan Ehamparan vs Ema Zajmovic vs Jack Gong
This seriously unlucky bad beat knocks Jack Gong eliminated from the game, while it also costs Ema Zajmovic a lot of cash, as Kauvsegan Ehamparan is saved by the River.
Zajmovic raises to $200,000 after being dealt an Ace and Queen, but is in big trouble immediately as Gong calls with Pocket Aces.
Ehamparan then goes all-in with $2,000,000, and this looks a bad bet with just an Ace and King.
Prior to the Flop, Gong has an astonishing 87% chance of winning the hand.
This increases to 97% after the next three cards enter the game, although both Zajmovic and Ehamparan need two Spades to complete a Flush, but with the Ace the latter would win.
The Turn adds the first of the two required cards, and amazingly the River completes the set in a truly remarkable hand.
The commentators aren't even sure at first what the outcome meant, with Gong having to leave the table, and Kauvsegan collecting a cool $4,270,000 pot.
2. Chris Ferguson vs Phil Hellmuth
Chris Ferguson practically hits the jackpot with this incredible stroke of luck against Phil Hellmuth.
Hellmuth begins with an Ace and 3, against Ferguson's 9 and 2, and the latter raises to $28,000.
The Flop produces 2, 5 and 9, giving Ferguson an instant Two Pair and a strong advantage in the hand.
Ferguson bets $40,000, and is called by his opponent who needs a 4 for a Straight.
Unbelievably, that card comes up on the Turn, and all of a sudden Hellmuth has a 91% chance of victory.
After Ferguson checks, Hellmuth makes another $40,000 bet, although this time a $120,000 raise comes back at him.
This causes Hellmuth to go all-in with $584,000, and Ferguson adds his remaining $560,000 to the pot, needing an Ace or 9 to steal the hand.
A 9 comes up on the River, not only landing the pot of over $1,000,000, but also winning the match and the tournament.
Hellmuth sinks to his knees and can't believe his incredible lack of luck, as anyone would in that situation.
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.