What is a ‘Bad Beat Story’
These happen to all poker players, and all poker players will have a bad beat story to tell at some point. Like fishing tales of ‘the one that got away’ or old war wounds and the story behind them, bad beats are often shared as examples of crushing and wildly unfair bad luck.
Typically, a player has what he thinks is an unbeatable hand and bets accordingly. Against all the odds an opponent who receives a poor hand on the flop gets insanely lucky on the turn and/or the river and catches cards that beats the ‘unbeatable’ cards and thus the inferior hand wins. This is also known as a suck-out.
‘Bad Beat Story’ Explained
Bad beat stories are often depicted in movies as a tense standoff over a smoky card table between a plucky underdog and the arrogant high-roller, complete with a crowd of gasping onlookers. In Casino Royale and The Cincinnati Kid, both Le Chiffre and The Kid have their full house improbably beaten by a straight flush. It’s a high tension, high drama moment, which is why bad beat stories often go on to influence filmmakers and writers.
Even those people who know little about poker can recognise a bad beat story when they see one, and often the experience of being on the receiving end of a bad beat story can be a formative moment for a player, as well as a moment of drama for others. Although a bad beat can be a horrible experience for a player, it is still best to react stoically, as a run of bad beat stories is highly unlikely. Playing the hand in the same way next time is still advised, as players would normally expect to be on to a winner.