Celebrating the brutality of this game we love
(For newbies: a bad beat is when you risk your chips with a mathematically superior hand only to have your opponent catch a lucky card or two and win after all bets are made.)
Bad Beats are the boogeymen of poker. They are the monster under your bed just waiting to pounce the moment you feel safe and tucked in under the covers of your pocket aces or turned straight.
Poker is hard, there are a lot of ways to lose. So it can be absolutely soul-crushing to lose when you do everything perfectly and risk your chips as a huge statistical favorite.
Bad beats happen, and they happen often. We don’t get to avoid them or decide when they happen. We play poker knowing that our hearts can be ripped out at any moment. So instead of running away, let’s embrace the sick and twisted nature of this game we love by watching it happen to other people. Here are my picks for the 5 worst bad beats in televised poker:
5.) Jean Robert Bellande (AQ) vs. Sarkis Akopyan (T9)
By far the funniest moment on this list. The ace on the flop is extra evil, as it allows Bellande to exhale and feel safe. His chances of winning are 94% at that point, so why wouldn’t he? This one truly exemplifies the spirit of the bad beat: One moment you’re telling the dealer how handsome he is and the next you’re ready to check yourself into a mental facility.
4.) Filippo Candio (57) vs. Joseph Cheong (AA)
Poor Cheong. Not only does he give Candio 3 chances to fold, but then he has to endure the celebration afterward. It’s obvious that Cheong has a good hand here, I’m still not sure what Candio was thinking.
3.) Kassella (KK) vs. Duong (QQ) vs. Boye (AQ)
There are multiple levels of pain in this hand. First, that queen on the flop which puts Duong ahead was the last queen in the deck. The spade on the turn means that Kassela only has one out on the river. The fourth spade on the river gives the whole pot to Boye and eliminates both Kassela and Duong. Boye called two all-ins with the worst hand and won even though his win probability was at 4% after the flop. That is brutal.
2.) Danny Nguyen
Danny Nguyen’s run of luck at the 2005 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star final table is the stuff of legends. Earlier in the action he ran JJ into QQ and caught running quads to eliminate poker legend Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen. In this hand he wins after having a win probability of .35% after the flop! With A7 against AK, he is drawing dead to running 7’s after his opponent flops a pair of kings. Yet somehow, it happens and Nguyen wins over $1 million for first place.
1.) Matt Affleck vs. Jonathan Duhamel
This one hurts to watch. The stakes were huge- Matt Affleck was one card away from being chip leader in the WSOP Main Event with 15 players left and instead he’s out of the tournament. He wins $500,000 for 15th place, but if he won this pot he would have been a huge favorite to win the $9 million first prize (which is exactly what Duhamel went on to do with his chips).
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