Many casinos offer bad-beat jackpots as a means to encourage players to sit at their poker tables and be dealt in, hand-after-hand. You must be dealt cards to be able to participate in the jackpot.
Typically, the dealer takes one chip out of every hand and drops it through a slot in the table, down into a collection box under the table. (Sometimes the slot gets jammed with all the chips the dealer drops as the game progresses. Figure about 30-35 chips per hour.)
It’s called a “bad-beat” jackpot because the winner is the player whose hand is beaten by another player. The beaten hand must be a monster like Aces-full-of tens or higher, beat by four-of-a-kind; and both of each player’s hole cards must be used to make the hands involved.
Jackpots usually run over $15,000 in low-limit cash games – considerably higher in high-limit games. The jackpot is distributed with the largest share going to the player who suffered the bad beat; half that amount goes to the winner of the hand; and the remainder is divided equally among the other players who were in that hand.
Bad-beat jackpots happen so infrequently you can easily tell when there’s one at a nearby table. The shouting and clapping is LOUD – very loud! People jump from their seats at other tables to go see what is happening, vicariously joining in the celebration!
Another bigger bad-beat jackpot: More recently some casinos have added a huge-monster bad-beat jackpot: Four-of-a-kind beat by another four-of-a-kind, again with both hole cards involved.
The jackpot in this promotion is $100,000! It is offered only during specified hours. I have never seen anyone win such a jackpot, but it is possible, theoretically. Can you imagine the odds against two players holding quads at the same time? I am pleased to say I have won two of the smaller bad-beat jackpots during the last few years.
A jackpot hand to remember: After signing in at the board for a $4-$8 limit game, while waiting for a seat, I stood behind the dealer to watch the play at one of the tables. (Gets me a bit of a heads-up if I later happen to be seated at that table.)
Jill, in the under-the-gun position, raised preflop with K-K in the hole. Jay, in a middle position, re-raised with A-A. Wow! Only the Big Blind called as they saw the flop three-handed.
And what a flop it was: Ace, King, King. Jill had quad kings! And Jay had Aces-full-of-Kings. Two monster hands, to say the least. Both of them raised and re-raised until Jay was all-in.
The Big Blind had folded. They showed their hands, as everyone watched with rapt interest – more than just curiosity. There was a loud roar from all of the players! Another Ace on the board would yield a monster jackpot. (I thought to myself that I wished I had been seated at that table. What a score it would be!)
Even if the fourth Ace didn’t materialize on the board, they had a jackpot hand: Four Kings beats Aces-full of Kings! With $16,000 in the jackpot, Jack’s full-boat would net him $6,400. Jill’s quad Aces gets her $3,200; and the seven other players in the hand would share the remaining $6,400. That’s a lot for a $4-$8 limit game.
The dealer called over a floorman to observe the rest of the hand – just in case. Standard practice. Of course, the odds were very high against Jay catching the fourth Ace – about 25-to-1 against with two shots at it, the turn and river, dropping to about 50-to-1 on the river.
As you might expect, the fourth Ace did not find its way to the board, but everyone at the table was happy to share the $16,000. Now that’s a happy table.
“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].