Worst Bad Beats In The History Of Poker & How Players Dealt With Them

Worst Bad Beats In The History Of Poker & How Players Dealt With Them

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As unlikely as it sounds, bad beats are quite common in poker. While good-beat stories are seldom remembered, the worst bad-beat stories usually get registered in the collective consciousness of poker fans worldwide. In this article, we have detailed the meaning of a bad beat and the top 3 worst bad beats in the history of poker.

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What Does A Bad Beat Mean In Poker?

The “worst bad beat” is a poker term often used to refer to a hand in which a player with very strong cards ends up losing to an opponent who is statistically unlikely to win. Such a situation generally happens when a player hits a lucky card or two and then goes on to win the pot against the stronger player. The losing player is then said to have suffered the “worst bad beat.”

One of the most legendary and best bluffs in poker history occurred during the 1984 WSOP Main Event when Jack Straus pulled off an incredible bluff. He pushed in his last chip after mistakenly thinking he was eliminated, only to rally back and win the tournament. This iconic bluff, known as the "chip and a chair" bluff, has since become a symbol of never giving up in poker lore

Top 3 Worst Bad Beats In The Poker World

Moving on, let us talk about the top 3 worst bad beats ever witnessed in the history of poker.

Matt Affleck vs Jonathan Duhamel

The worst bad beat in the poker world likely occurred between Matt Affleck and Jonathan Duhamel during the 2010 World Series of Poker main event. During this worst bad beat, Affleck and Duhamel were involved in a pot that amounted to close to 42 million tournament chips. Herein Matt Affleck, 23, started the hand with a pair of pocket aces (a hand consisting of two aces), while Jonathan Duhamel, 22, started the hand with pocket Jacks (a hand consisting of two jacks).

Here it is important to remember that Affleck had a 79% chance of winning the hand, and if he had won the hand, he would have been the chip leader with just 15 players to compete in the tournament. But, Alas! The day didn’t turn out for Affleck as he had expected.

As the game progressed, both Affleck and Duhamel saw a flop consisting of 10 of diamonds, 9 of clubs, and 7 of hearts. Affleck found his chips in the middle of the table with the turn showing a Queen of diamonds. Duhamel took a good 5 minutes but, in a shocking move, decided to call the bet.

As you can see here, Affleck was leading in the game until now. But Duhamel’s move made the collective hearts of the viewers sink to the size of a peanut as just any king, Jack or 8, and Duhamel was close to eliminating Affleck from the tournament. As unlikely as it might sound, the lady luckily smiled at Duhamel, and he hit an 8 of diamonds on the river. As Duhamel won the round, Affleck was reduced to tears, and the poker world gasped and roared as the worst bad beat was registered in the history of poker.

Bryce Yockey vs Josh Arieh

The final table of the 2019 world series of Poker produced quite possibly one of the worst bad beats ever witnessed in poker history. In this tournament, the world saw Bryce Yockey, who held a hand with a winning probability of 99.843%, lose to Josh Arieh during the final draw on the 2-7 triple draw. Before moving forward to this bad beat, let us first understand what a 2-7 triple draw means.

The basic aim behind playing “2-7 triple draw” is to make the worst possible five-card hand without a flush or straight flush. Vital to this, a hand consisting of 7-5-4-3-2 is usually considered the best hand in this game, with 7-6-4-3-2 holding the position of the second-best hand. During a standard “2-7 triple draw,” there are usually three draws wherein players can ask for as many new cards as they want.

In this game, Yockey was dealt the second-best hand consisting of 7-6-4-3-2, while Arieh was dealt a hand consisting of Aces-Queen-6-5-3. Now, to beat Yockey, Arieh needed three draws and was the only possible hand combination that would beat Yockey’s hand. Oh! A crazy detail about this hand is that to make a winning hand, Arieh was required to make a straight first before he could draw to the perfect 7-5 low.

On the first draw, Arieh got a 2, and his hand combination came down to Queen-6-5-3-2. After that, he drew again, and on the second draw, he got a 4, with the hand combination now coming down to 6-5-4-3-2. As the game turned intense, Yockey called all in, and to Arieh’s surprise, he got a 7 on the final draw. With Arieh’s hand combination now 7-6-4-3-2, he finally announced to his opponent, “I made a wheel,” With this move, Josh Arieh probably registered one of the worst bad beats on Bryce Yockey ever witnessed in the poker world.

Vanessa Selbst vs Gaelle Baumann

It was early on Day 1 of the 2017 main poker event. Two of the best players in the poker world, namely Vanessa Selbst and Gaelle Baumann, were all set to battle it out at the televised featured table. The game began, and Selbst was dealt Aces of spades and Aces of diamonds, relatively pretty starting hands. So did Selbst think as she placed the bet and immediately got a couple of callers. The flop round came, and 3 cards – Ace of clubs, 7 of clubs, and 5 of clubs were opened. It looked good for Selbst, especially because Baumann held a 7 of diamonds and a 7 of hearts.

But, right after the flop round ended, disaster struck for Selbst. The turn round started, and a 7 of spades was opened. Despite having made an Aces-full-of-seven (Aces-Aces-7-7-7), Selbst was distressed because she sensed she was in trouble. As the river round started, the last community card, a 4 of diamonds, was opened, after which Baumann raised an all-in bet.

Selbst spiraled into her thoughts for a few minutes and asked Baumann in a feeble voice if she was holding quads, otherwise known as four-of-a-kind. All hell broke loose as Selbst realized she was correct. Just 1 hour into the main event, Selbst was forced to exit, perhaps due to the worst bad beat of her career.

“I wanted to fold, I really did” was all Vanessa Selbst could utter after experiencing one of the worst bad beats of her poker career.

Unfortunately, there’s no one way to avoid the worst bad beat in the poker world. The least you can do is play as many poker tournaments as possible and learn from the experiences of poker pros such as Matt Affleck or Vanessa Selbst.

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What constitutes a "Bad Beat" in poker?

  • A bad beat in poker happens when a hand that is statistically favoured to win loses unexpectedly due to an opponent's odd draw or unlikely combination of cards, resulting in a frustrating or "bad" situation for the losing player.

What are some of the most famous bad beats in poker history?

  • One notorious terrible beat occurred in the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event, when Mike Matusow lost with aces full of eights to an opponent's straight flush on the river. This hand is often regarded as one of the most unforgettable terrible beats.

How did players react to past bad beats?

  • Bad beats frequently elicit an emotional response from players, and these reactions can vary. While some people remain calm, others may show frustration, incredulity, or even tilt. To continue playing efficiently, you must manage your emotions.

Have bad beats caused changes to poker tournaments or rules?

  • Bad beats have not materially affected poker rules, but they have increased the appeal of "Bad Beat Jackpots" in some casinos. These jackpots provide players who have extremely unlucky hands a portion of a cumulative prize.

How can poker players deal with bad beats?

  • Coping with bad beats is retaining perspective, accepting that poker is a game of luck, and focusing on making the right moves. Many successful players recommend remaining emotionally resilient, as dealing with adversity is an important component of poker.
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