How Bad Beat Jackpots Make Bad Beats Not so Bad


Every poker player has a bad beat story and when you talk to them, they remember and describe it so vividly; yet if you ask them about their best hand story – they are stumped!

What is a Bad Beat? A bad beat is when a player loses a hand while holding a very strong hand to an even stronger hand, and usually involves a sizeable amount of their money at stake.

So how do bad beat jackpots (BBJ) work? In online poker, every time you play cash games on a bad beat jackpot table, you pay a little extra into a bad beat jackpot pool. This money accumulates into the jackpot pool. To win the BBJ, you need to lose the hand holding at least the minimum required hand specified in the BBJ rules. So for example, say the minimum hand requirement is Quad Jacks, then you need to lose the hand with a hand of Quad Jacks or higher.

The higher the hand requirements stipulated by the poker site, the longer it will take to hit the BBJ and therefore the prize pool will continue to accumulate to a high amount.

In live poker, generally all players playing cash tables are eligible to win the bad beat jackpot. Some live casinos only have the bad beat jackpot open for certain games / stakes. It’s always best to ensure you know all the rules of the house (whether you are online or live) to ensure you have a clear understanding of what you are working towards.

The Bad Beat Jackpot is shared by the players at the table but sometimes shared at all tables. The loser holding the minimum hand eligible for the bad beat takes the most money, followed by the hand winner and then the rest is split equally between the remaining players. Some of the jackpot is used to seed the next BBJ pool and some may be paid for administration. Everybody at the table leaves happy.

A sample BBJ distribution may be 70% of the money collected in the BBJ pool going to the BBJ, 20% to the BBJ seed money and 10% in administration fees.

From the 70% BBJ money, 50% will go to the player with the losing hand ( the bad beat hand), 25% to the player with the winning hand (highest ranked hand) and all other players dealt cards on that table split the remaining 25%.

Players who sit out in the hand do not qualify for any part of the jackpot so be careful when you play and sit out or you may find yourself left out.

 Bad Beat Jackpots have made it possible for players to turn their bad beats into great feats.

Some large jackpots have been won in the past, mostly on online poker sites. The highest bad beat jackpot recorded was won on July 27, 2011 on Fortune Poker for a total jackpot amount of €1,265,583 (or $1,831,426) with the winner taking home €442,954. The hand in question was Quad Kings beaten by Quad Aces on a €0.50 / €1 No Limit Table.

Other notable bad beat jackpots were on Party Poker for $1,013,381.63 in August 2008, Carbon Poker for $1.2 million (click here to see video) in February 2009 and $861K on Absolute Poker in July 2007.

Not all poker sites offer Bad Beat Jackpots.

For Canadians living in British Columbia and Quebec, there is a chance of winning a sizeable bad beat jackpot which is currently sitting at over $940,000. and EspaceJeux who share poker liquidity have amassed an impressive BBJ over the past year which could soon touch the $1 Million mark.

In order to qualify, players must play on one of the BBJ tables. and EspaceJeux collect 50 cents from the pot of every raked hand played on the BBJ tables.

Make sure you read and understand the rules:


  • Four or more players must be dealt into the hand
  • Players sitting out do not qualify for the jackpot
  • The hand must go to showdown
  • The losing hand must contain Four of a Kind Jacks, or better
  • The best hand for both the winner and the loser must include their two hole cards. 
  • In the case of Four of a Kind, the hole cards must be a pocket pair. 
  • The hand must be raked and the jackpot contribution must be collected in order for the hand to qualify for a Bad Beat Jackpot
  • The two highest hands will be considered for the jackpot if there are two or more hands that qualify for the jackpot, with the highest hand being the winning hand (the winner) and the second highest hand winning the jackpot (the loser of the hand)
  • In the event there are two claims on the jackpot, from different tables, at approximately the same time; the hand that finishes first will be awarded the jackpot. The end timestamp of the hand will decide which hand finished first. The jackpot will then be re-seeded and that jackpot awarded to the second hand.
  • Revealing cards to any other player or any discussion of the hands in play will disqualify the hand from any Jackpot payments.






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