Bad Beat Stories Anyone?

The best place to hear a truly heart-felt bad beat story is to hang around the lobby of a poker tournament after successive players get busted out. Being the swell guy that I am, I’ll often ask in the most grandmotherly tone I can muster, “Tell me what happened?”

After a large sigh, the person will wipe the disgruntled look off his face long enough to spit out something like this: “I flopped top trips, with a nut-low draw with the nut-straight flush to hit, when it came perfect, perfect – deuce, deuce, to counterfeit me everywhere. I think I had 38 outs, twice. Man, what a bad beat!” (Come to think of it, you never seem to see too many “gruntled” people in a tournament lobby).

On the flip side, for every “bad beat” story, there is going to be a “good beat” story. But, you rarely hear those. If you have been hanging around poker joints and casinos for as long as I have, the art of telling a convincing good beat story seems to be a long forgotten one. But, I’ve got a little theory that humans are hard-wired to remember bad beat stories and forget when we were on the receiving end of some good luck. See, I possess a B.A. in psychology (which in my book B.A. stands for Basic Aducation), so I feel that I can speak somewhat legitimately on the topic of human behavior.

Anyway, after a big pot is awarded to the “wrong” person, that hard-wired portion of the sub-lower hippocampus region of the melon will instantly kick in to tell the whole table what rotten luck the player received. If this sniveling continues for longer than 6.8 seconds, it is wholly appropriate for one of the other members of the table (often a grizzled cowboy type) to remark, “Buddy – half the table doesn’t care; and the other half is glad.”

Ah, the poker playing boys and girls can be a cruel bunch! You won’t find too many sympathetic ears around a poker table. After all, we are all trying to take each other’s chips aren’t we?

Wanna hear my second favorite bad beat story? Of course you do. This bad beat story did occur in a casino, yet it did not involve cards, dice or anything associated with gambling. It involved an egg salad sandwich. I ordered the egg salad sandwich in question at about 10 o’clock at night while trying to get unstuck in a frisky Texas hold’em game. Now, obviously I’m not a betting man but what are the odds that my sandwich had been sitting around for about 8 hours before I ate it? Pretty damn good as it turns out.

Looking back, I suppose an over/under of 8.5 hours (laying –155 for the over) would have been a good line, but I’d still be forced to plough the over. I guess this could be a sort of good beat story, in that I was only on the can for three days. I could have ordered the puffer fish that had been dredged from the sludge of Minamata Bay, so I suppose I should count my lucky stars that I’m still alive.

I’m not sure why, but that story reminds me of the $650 boost I got one evening. I’d been playing poker for about 6 hours, when the game looked as if it was going to break up. I’d booked a small win, so I decided to take off. I got to my car and turned the key only to find that I’d left my lights on. My battery was as flat as a piece of bannock. “No problem,” I thought as I ambled back to the casino, “One of the guys will give me a boost.”

You should be able to guess the rest of the story by now. The game hadn’t broken up at all but had morphed into a lovely short-handed pot-limit Omaha game. After taking a couple of those bad beat things, one of the lads was kind enough to give me a boost amid howls of laughter from the other players. The next time I was at the card room, one of the rounders remarked, “Ask me about the $1800 bran muffin I had some day.”

So, we’ve all got bad beat stories to tell. Some of us bought Global Crossing at $50 a pop; others have had the tranny go on their truck three weeks after the warranty ran out. Remember that Flames and Caps game last January? Half the people were on the “wrong” end of the over/under when six goals were scored in the last 5 minutes and 37 seconds of a scoreless game.

My point is this: I guess it all depends on how we react to the situation. We could cry and whine about our bad luck, but you’ll very rarely see top notch poker players get too rattled about tough beats because they know they are going to happen.

Oh yeah, I forgot. My personal bad beat story of all time: I felt “lucky” one Thursday about 5 years ago. I was going to get some lottery tickets myself, but the old lady (at the time) said she was going grocery shopping and could pick them up. I wrote down the two sets of numbers that I used to play occasionally, and off she went to load up on some Whiskas and Ichiban. To this day, I can’t recall if I saw “my” 6 numbers on T.V. or in the newspaper (perhaps some kind of Jungian repression mechanism.) It was a strange reaction: I didn’t really get that excited.

To be honest, I didn’t really get that mad either when the lottery tickets were dutifully produced. The trouble is my partner in crime had bought Western 6/49 instead of Lotto 6/49. The ticket (split 4 ways, not 3) would have been worth $1.8 million. Oh well! I guess I should try telling someone who cares!

Ceri “Poker Broker” Jones is a pawnbroker and poker player. He has almost finished a book entitled, Poker Joints and Pawn Shops: Scams, Tells and Bad Beat Stories.