Getting Paid to Lose

by , May 17, 2012 | 11:25 am

Quad queens at the Wynn, a few hands after losing with quad jacks. Read below for the best bad beat jackpots in Vegas.

This is not a bad beat story, though it starts with one.

This is a story about bad beat jackpots, and the lack thereof.

Playing a 1-3NL game the other day, I raised to $12 in late position with JhJd.

An older man — here’s him as a younger man, seriously — called on the button, one of the blinds called and the limper directly to my right called.

The flop was a dream: Js5c7c. And it was checked to me, so I bet big, hoping to build it up with one of the suckers stupid enough to call my preflop raise.

To my delight, the button moved in for $150. The blind folded and the limper contemplated.

“Please call, please call, please call,” I thought.

And he shoved for $200.

Oh boy, dreams do come true.

I tossed a handful of chips over the line, indicating my insta-call confidence. Two all-ins and I had top set. How easy is this game?

The dealer flipped the 4c on the turn — crap, maybe one of them hit a flush, but I could still boat up — and the Jc on the river.

Oh yeah, quads!

“I have quads,” I said proudly, revealing all of the jacks.

The elation lasted only a split second. The guy to my right popped out of his seat and said, “Quads are no good. Straight flush.” And he revealed the 6c8c.

This was at Wynn, where there is no bad beat jackpot.

So I texted comrades about my miserable luck. I tweeted that I had lost with quads.

A Twitter follower replied that if I had been playing at Caesars Palace, I could have been $9,000 or $10,000 richer.

That got me thinking.

Another friend called the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, where I had played regularly for the past 5 years.

Their hold’em jackpot was at $66,000.

The bad beat jackpot might be common in Biloxi casinos and some in California. But it’s not really a Vegas thing. At least in some of the bigger poker rooms where I play the most, such as Aria, Bellagio, MGM, Venetian and Wynn.

I didn’t tilt off the rest of my money — actually made a little that day at Wynn — and won a nice $29 pot when I flopped quads on a QdQsTh board a few hands later.

So as I returned from a Pokerati meeting the next afternoon, I stopped by the Palace Station casino. Station casinos offer a bad beat that is distributed throughout all 8 properties.

Reminders of the bad beat jackpot flashed repeatedly on the wall-mounted TV inside the 9-table room. I jumped in a new limit hold’em table.

“Let’s get the cards in the air, in case the jackpot hits,” one of the grizzled regulars said.

“It’s jackpot time,” another man announced.

Jackpot this … jackpot that … jackpot up his sleeve … jackpot, jackpot, jackpot.

It’s the only word I could hear.

General poker theory goes that players shouldn’t be concerned about a jackpot when on the grind. But it certainly floods your mind after you hit a hand that could have been.

I checked with Vegas poker rooms and found the ones that pay for losing.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • The rake at Caesars, with a bad beat jackpot for any quads losing, is 10 percent up to $5 plus $1 for the jackpot. Currently, the jackpot is at about $30,000. If it hits, 40 percent goes to the player who loses the hand, 20 percent goes to the winner and there’s a 40 percent table share.
  • At any of the Station casinos, there’s a $4 rake with $1 taken for the jackpot, and the bad beat jackpot is broken down a little differently. The losing hand gets $30,000, the winning hand gets $20,000 and the rest of the jackpot is split up among all poker players at any of the 8 other Station properties. (That means the winner and loser would also get a player share.) Currently, the jackpot is about $100,000.
  • Some of the smaller rooms in Vegas offer a variety of payouts for bad beats at different levels. Losing with aces full or better at Excalibur earns 40 percent of a small jackpot, while 20 percent goes to the winner of the hand and 40 percent is divided among the table. Excalibur takes a $4 rake plus $1 for the jackpot.
  • Bally’s started a bad beat jackpot promotion April 1. To qualify for a chunk of the $10,000, a player must lose with quads or better. The loser of the hand receives $4,000, the winner receives $3,000 and the table splits up the remaining $3,000. Bally’s takes a $5 rake plus $1 for the jackpot.
  • At the Flamingo, there’s a $2,000 bad beat jackpot if 4 of a kind or better is beaten, with $1,000 going to the player with the losing hand, $500 going to the winner and the table splitting $1,000. The Flamingo takes a $5 rake plus $1 for the promotion.
  • To qualify for the progressive $50,000 bad beat jackpot at The Orleans a play must lose with 4 of a kind, using both hole cards. The loser of the hand receives 45 percent, the winner receives 27 percent, while the table shares the rest. Orleans takes a $3 max rake, plus $1 for the jackpot.
  • Aces full of 10s beat by quads or better qualifies for the $2,000 jackpot at Riviera, where $599 is distributed to the losing hand, $401 is awarded to the winning hand and the table splits the remaining $1,000. The Riv takes a $4 rake, plus $2 for the jackpot, and their promotions can change from week to week.
  • If you lose with aces full — again, using both hole cards — Harrah’s you qualify for a small bad beat jackpot. There, $500 goes to the player with the losing hand, $200 goes to the winning hand and everyone at the table receives $50. Harrah’s takes a $5 rake, with $1 for the jackpot.

So maybe I missed out on some extra coin. But if I had been playing elsewhere, I would never have been dealt that hand. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

3 Comments to “Getting Paid to Lose”

  1. Da U.P. rocks, eh?

    It’s too bad no place gives a car for a bad beat. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Something small like a Sonic. I bet you could zip around the strip pretty easy in one of those. Or maybe a case of Old Style. You simply cannot put a price on a box of ice cold, fully-krausened goodness.

  2. Dave Ferrara

    I couldn’t agree more. 

  3. Seven Burke

    The rake on those bad beat pots is through the roof.  There’s the trade off.  Personally, I’d rather not pay any higher rake than necessary to be able to play without getting busted.

    On the bright side, you’ve got a great story to tell, one that surely will be handed down to your grandkids 😉

    Thanks for the bad beat research!