On Tuesday, 16 January, six poker players at the Motor City Casino in Detroit enjoyed a huge windfall of jackpot money—so huge, in fact, that it was the largest bad beat jackpot in U.S. poker history.
The jackpot hand? Quad queens versus quad threes. The jackpot amount? A life-changing $1,068,590.90. Scott from Oxford, Michigan, took home the lion’s share of the jackpot–$427,452.52—while (also lucky) Kenneth earned $213,712.76. The remaining four (lucky) players at the table each won $106,856.28 simply for folding their hands. The usually ten-player tables were particularly lean that day.
Check out the winning cards from last night’s Bad Beat jackpot! ♣️♥️♠️♦️ pic.twitter.com/4a0tl1UFRR
— MotorCity Casino (@MotorCityCasino) January 18, 2018
And here are the lucky winners.
🚨OUR BAD BEAT JACKPOT WORTH OVER $1,000,000 JUST HIT!!!!!🚨 The winning hand received $213,712.76, the losing hand received a whopping $427,452.52, and the other players at the table received $106,856.38 each! Congrats to all of the winners! 👏💵💰💵 pic.twitter.com/E86zTKHeZx
— MotorCity Casino (@MotorCityCasino) January 17, 2018
Typically, bad beat jackpots in excess of $200,000 spur conversation. For comparison’s sake, the MGM Grand Detroit’s current bad beat jackpot is around $55,000, while the Greektown Casino bad beat jackpot is near $41,000. So, you can imagine the buzz generated with a million-dollar-plus bad beat jackpot. The last time Motor City paid out a quads over quads jackpot was in 2016 for nearly $569,000.
Motor City’s bad beat requirements
To win the huge bad beat jackpot at Motor City Casino, one player’s quads must beat another quads, and both players must be holding pocket pairs. If a straight flush beats another’s four of a kind, then the jackpot amount is smaller. At the MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown Casinos, the bad beat is activated if a four of a kind loses to a straight flush.
The Motor City bad beat payout is as follows: the player with the “losing” hand receives 40 percent of the jackpot while the player with the “winning” hand receives 20 percent. Everyone else at the table—up to eight players at a ten-player table—splits the remaining 40 percent.
Other casinos have different bad beat jackpot rules as to qualifying hands and who shares the “community” funds. Whereas some casinos give a share of the jackpot to everyone playing at the time, others share the funds with their “sister” rooms. For example, the Station Casinos in Las Vegas, which include Red Rock, Santa Fe Station, Boulder Station, Palace Station, and Green Valley Ranch, used to share the community funds with all poker players at all of their poker rooms who were playing at the time the bad beat jackpot hit.
Bad beat jackpot odds
The odds of hitting a bad beat jackpot are quite small. For example, the odds of beating four of a kind sixes are 0.0000093 (or 1 in 107,527). To fully comprehend the rarity this feat, it is important to understand the difference between theoretical probability and experimental probability. Theoretical probability is calculated on math theory while experimental probability is the actual result based on conducting a number of trials to determine the odds of quads versus quads.
In poker probability, each hand is a trial, and while the odds presume that a bad beat will occur on every nth hand, in reality, each time a hand is dealt, there is a 1-in-107,527 chance of beating quad sixes. The only way to prove that theoretical odds are accurate is to perform enough trials to see whether this holds true. Granted, while many players are involved in hundreds of thousands of hands over the span of their playing career, this time is typically not spent calculating bad beat jackpot probabilities.
If you’d like to examine other bad beat odds, check out this free online bad beat calculator.
Massive bad beat jackpots of the past
Stories of monster bad beat jackpots abound. While any bad beat jackpot is cause for celebration like this 2011 one at the Bike for “only” $100,000, some jackpots are truly massive.
Among the monster jackpots is this one from 2010, when a very lucky man won the lion’s share of a $553,958 bad beat jackpot—nearly $277,000—at Caesars Atlantic City when his quad fours lost to quad aces.
In 2017, actor and poker aficionado James Woods was one of Foxwood’s bad beat winners in a $488,000 jackpot when his straight flush beat quad aces.
In April, 2018, at Montreal, Canada’s Playground Poker Club paid out a nearly $1.4 million bad beat jackpot.
Bad beats occur online as well. Quite recently, on January 7, 2018, a $990,000 bad beat jackpot hit at a Chico Poker Network site when rivered quad jacks lost to a flopped straight flush. Take a look.
Check out this $653,000 BetOnline jackpot from 25 May 2017. The graphics aren’t as entertaining, but the result is just as fantastic.
Pay attention to the rules
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—since bad beat jackpot rules vary by casino, you should know the rules of your home poker room. Consider a recent case regarding a refusal by Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas to pay a $120,000 bad beat jackpot that hit on July 7, 2017. Red Rock’s argument is that one of the players showed his hole cards to another player who was out of the hand, in apparent violation of the poker room’s bad beat jackpot rules. The Gaming Control Board ruled in favor of the players, and Station Casinos effectively scrapped their bad beat jackpot promotion after this.
While every poker player has memories of bad beats permanently seared into their brain, bad beat jackpot stories are few and further between.
Have you ever been on the winning or losing end of a bad beat jackpot? We’d love to hear about it!
Until next time.
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Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.