If you aren’t familiar with bad beat jackpots, let me explain. In most brick and mortar casinos there is a progressive jackpot that builds over time, called the bad beat jackpot. Poker rooms usually take out a dollar or two out of every raked pot and put it into? the bad beat jackpot.
The rules for hitting the jackpot are different in each casino. At some casinos you only need Aces full of Jacks or better beaten, while some casinos offer even harder beats such as a four of a kind beaten. In most card rooms, you must also be playing at a limit table. No limit games generally don’t qualify, as the jackpot would be hit much more frequently with players constantly all in and seeing every card the board has to offer. When a bad beat happens and is verified, everyone gets paid.
The structure for a bad beat jackpot payout also varies from casino to casino. It is common to see the losing hand receive 40% of the jackpot, the winning hand receive 25% of the jackpot, the rest of the table split 15% of the jackpot, and the rest of the poker room split the remaining 20%. As you can see, when someone hits a jackpot, there is plenty of room for everyone to celebrate.
In the last four years I’ve played countless hours of poker in casinos in Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oklahoma and had never experienced a bad beat jackpot until last night.
I headed up to Cherokee Casino, in West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma, with a buddy of mine, to get a few hours of play in. While waiting for our seats to open, we sat down in fairly loose $4/$8 limit game. In this poker room, $4/$8 limit is the lowest limit game offered, so it feels much like playing $2/$4 and $3/$6, where having 7 callers pre-flop on a raised hand is common and where Aces hardly stand a chance.
We had only been playing for about 30 minutes when it all went down. I was sitting in seat 9, with a loose player sitting to my right, in seat 8. This player was 23 years old and was also a dealer at the casino. (In the larger casinos, usually if you are a dealer you are not allowed to play in games in your own card room, but this isn’t a rule at Cherokee Casino.)
The player in seat 8 was holding JJ and the player in seat 5 was holding QQ. The majority of this hand was heads up and the final board was:
J J Q Q 4
Both players were trying to slow play their hands so the betting didn’t get very high until the river, where the player with JJ 3 betted the pot and was all-in for his last few dollars. Our table was only half paying attention because this pot didn’t seem very exciting.
The player in seat 8, holding the JJ, turned up his jacks to show his quads and said, “Can you beat this!” with a smirk on his face. The table woke up a little because a player was showing four Jacks. The player in seat 5 smiled big and said, “Sure can!” and turned over his quad Queens.
Only about three players at the table really knew what this meant; it was bad beat jackpot time. After about a few seconds of explaining the situation, everyone at the table, except for the two first time players, knew what was happening and the table erupted in cheers.
Players from around the poker room were surrounding our table trying to see what had happened. After all, usually players don’t start cheering and jumping around at a $4/$8 limit table.
The bad beat jackpot was up to a little over $80,000. After about an hour of camera checking, card checking, paper work, and verification, the bad beat was confirmed with 4 Jacks losing to 4 Queens. The player next to me, with the 4 Jacks, won $32,000. The player across from me, with the 4 Queens, won $20,000. The other 7 players, including my friend and me, split $12,000, which ended up being about $1720 apiece. The rest of the poker room players ended up getting around $130 a head.
The two first-time players at our table had no idea what was going on and why they were being handed $1700 in cash. We made sure to tell them poker wasn’t always this easy. After playing for a few more hours and never leaving our $4/$8 seats, it was time to head home. Not a bad night, at the $4/$8 tables.
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