Bad Beat Jackpots: What They Are And Are They Worth It

Bad Beat Jackpots

By Bill Burton

A bad beat in poker is when you have a good hand that is a favorite to win beaten by another hand. Most of the time it is a hand that caught a miracle draw on the river and the player should not have been playing it to begin with. A true bad beat is when two strong hands go head to head. Some poker rooms offer a jackpot bonus for this type of bad beat. Some players love to play in poker rooms that offer bad beat jackpots because the jackpot can grow to thousands of dollars before it is hit. I read that the largest bad beat jackpot was around $165,000 although many poker rooms will set a top amount for the jackpot such as $50,000. Any money collected over this amount will be applied to a secondary back up jackpot which will be the amount of the new jackpot when the present one hits.

Funding the Jack Pot

Bad beat jackpots are made from additional money raked out of each pot that goes toward the jackpot bonus. In most cardrooms these go into a separate drop box from the regular rake. Usually the jackpot rake is one dollar but it is not taken out of small pots or hands that do not see the flop.

Some poker rooms just combine the money in a single box with the rake and then take a percentage out at the end of the day. There are other card rooms that fully fund that jackpot without taking extra out of each hand. In these instances there are usually other rules such as the jackpot can only be hit during the week and not on weekends.

At first thought playing in a poker room that offer a bad beat jackpot may be exciting but you have to realize that the chances of hitting one are very slim. Since they are taking money out of each pot the rake is much higher than in rooms that do not have a bad beat jackpot. Many low limit players find it hard to overcome the rake and the tip in order to make a profit and the extra taken out for the jackpot will decrease the profit of each hand you win.


When the jackpot is hit the money is divided between the winning and losing player and the other players at the table. Each poker room may distribute the jack pot money differently but an example would be: 50% to the losing hand, 25% to the winning hand and 25% to the remaining players at the table that were dealt in that hand.

In some poker rooms a portion of the jackpot will be paid to everyone who is playing that game in the card room who is playing the game. If the jackpot is hit during a Texas Holdem game, all of the players playing Holdem would share in the jack pot.


Bad Beat Qualifications
Each poker room has their own specifications as to which hands qualify as a "bad beat." Many rooms will not only specify the minimum strength of the beaten hand, but also the minimum strength of the winning hand.

In many instance the lowest hand is a full house of Aces full of tens beaten by four of a kind or better. This can vary and another poker room might have set the jack pot hand as Aces full of Jacks must be beaten by four eights or higher. Many of the online poker rooms set the minimum hand as quad eights beaten by a higher hand.

In all instances to qualify for the bad beat jackpot both the winning and losing players MUST use both of their hole cards in making their qualifying hand.

For example if the board was A-A-A-T-7

Player one had: Ace-9

Player two had: K-K

Player one had quad aces and beat player two’s Aces full of kings. This does not qualify because player one did not use both of his hold cards to make his winning hand.

Before You Play
The rules for bad beat jackpots are not standard and vary greatly from poker room to poker room. Always check with your local floorman if you have any questions. Before you play make sure you know the rules for a qualifying for the jackpot and how much extra rake is being taken out of every pot.


Until next time, remember:

"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"


About the writer.

Bill Burton is the Casino Gambling Guide and columnist for the Internet portal located at: He is the author of "1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets" and "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em" available online at He an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: