The longer we’ve played poker, the more Bad Beats we suffer, and the less patient those around us become when we feel the need to explain to them – in every detail – how unlucky we were just now on the River when bla bla bla…

I’m pretty confident that many of you reading this is guilty of regaling a partner, family member, friend or anyone listening (or who can’t escape!) of the bad beats. It’s bad enough that people have to endure our bad luck stories at all, but how many of us bend the ear of someone who doesn’t even know how to play? We try to keep it simple but fail every time, yet still insist on dispensing this aural torture: ‘I had a full house, but he caught a bigger full house on the River! He shouldn’t even have been in the pot. The same thing happened yesterday when I raised pre-flop under the gun with pocket tens, and …. Are you listening?’

So, to cheer us up, and hopefully give us something to help put life in perspective the next time Lady Luck decides it’s not our day and we then find ourselves wanting to unload our frustration on the undeserving, here are a few famous bad beats from major tournaments over the years. It happens to us all, as they say – even the best. Nobody can avoid bad luck…

Everybody Loves a Bad Beat

A weird bad beat was seen at the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event, this time in the presence of poker fan Ray Romano of ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’ fame. He happened to be playing at the table which saw Japanese professional Motoyuki Mabuchi see his hand improve to AAAA, only for rival Justin Phillips to go one better with that rare bird that is the royal flush! If this were seen in a film we’d all be saying how ridiculously far-fetched and unrealistic, but sometimes life is stranger than fiction, and if anything is going to give us such examples, it’s poker. Needless to say Mabuchi’s bad luck was more than just losing a hand – this bad beat saw him knocked out of the tournament.

The Curse of Aces

In the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event, Vanessa Selbst, one of the world’s best players, was bitten by the curse of pocket aces. Having being dealt the game’s best hand, her luck improved further when the Flop brought her another of the remaining two aces. Meanwhile, her opponent Gaelle Baumann was experiencing that feeling of irony familiar to all poker players when he flopped 777… but the miracle fourth 7 magically appeared on the Turn, and Selbst was eliminated on Day 1 with nothing to show but a bizarre bad beat story

It’s not over until it’s over…

The following year, in the WSOP $565 buy-in Colossus event, it was down to the last two players, with Sang Liu and Roberly Felicio having roughly level stacks, and a mouth-watering $1M awaiting the winner. With all the chips in on a Js 7d 3c Flop, Liu, with Jc 10s versus Felicio’s Jd 8h started to celebrate… Just as we have seen Olympic gold medals turning from gold to silver as the leader is beaten to the finish line because they were prematurely celebrating and consequently overtaken in the last millisecond, so Liu was punished by Fate. The Turn of Kc might have left Felicio with only three outs, but outs are outs, and the 8d duly turned the tables and the 61.4M chips went in the ‘wrong’ direction, to Felicio, who went on to bag the million and the bracelet.

The Ultimate Miracle Card

Arseniy Karmatsky shoved his entire stack into the middle with pocket kings in the Sochi leg of the 2018 European Poker Tour. All good so far. Alas, the bad news was that Mikhail Kovalyuk had been dealt pocket aces. However, even worse was that someone had folded a king, leaving Karmatsky on his way out unless the sole king came riding in on the proverbial white horse to his rescue. In fact it did, on the Flop, and he survived the Turn and River to rake in a mountain of chips and eliminate the unbelievably unlucky Kovalyuk in the process.



AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 09.03.2021 · last updated 09.03.2021

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