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Bad Beat Jackpot: A Detailed Guide on How It Works

Jordan C

May 12, 2023

Guide to Bad Beat Jackpot

No one likes getting a bad beat. There aren’t many worse feelings in poker, but what if a bad beat could be turned into a massive payday? Well, that’s exactly what a bad beat jackpot will do! But are they too good to be true, and is it worth it playing in games with a bad beat jackpot? We’ll be taking a look at all of that and more in this detailed guide to bad beat jackpots.

What is a Bad Beat Jackpot?

A bad beat jackpot is a jackpot that rewards players when a very strong hand is beaten by an even stronger hand. However, you can’t trigger a bad beat jackpot just by getting your aces cracked; we’re talking super strong hands getting beaten like quads or better.

For example, Player A has J-J, and Player B has K-K. The board runs out K-J-A-J-K, meaning that Player A has quad Jacks, but Player B wins the hand with quad Kings. This is an example of a hand that would trigger the bad beat jackpot, as it’s an extremely strong hand that’s very rarely beaten.

Depending on how much poker you play, you could go your whole life without one of these hands being beaten, which is why these casinos offer a prize for managing to do it!

How Does a Bad Beat Jackpot Work?

As we mentioned above, a bad beat jackpot requires a very strong hand to be beaten by another strong hand, but how does that jackpot grow, and how does a player claim it?

Well, the casino will usually start off by guaranteeing a certain amount to the jackpot to get it going. The exact amount guaranteed by the casino will vary depending on the size of the poker room and the number of games running. 

Once the bad beat jackpot is in play, the casino will take a tiny portion of each pot to help build the jackpot. This is how casinos are able to afford to give multi-million dollar bad beat jackpots, as it’s really the players that are paying for it rather than the casino. 

When the bad beat jackpot is on, the casino will set a qualifying hand that must be beaten to claim the jackpot. Usually, this starts off with a very strong hand, like a 5-high straight flush which allows time for the jackpot to grow. As the jackpot reaches certain thresholds, the requirement to win the hand will go down, making it more likely someone will win it.

To claim a bad beat jackpot in almost any casino, a player must use two cards from their hand and three from the board. If a player just uses one card or no cards from their hand, they’re deemed not to have qualified for the jackpot. For example, if a player has K2 on a board of KKKAA, and loses to a player with AA, they are only using one card from their hand, so they do not qualify for the bad beat jackpot.

Once a player wins the bad beat jackpot, the prize pool needs to be divided up between the players at the table, as the whole jackpot is never awarded to just one player. The losing player will take home the largest percentage of the jackpot, usually taking home around 50%. 

The player who gave the bad beat will take the next highest percentage, usually taking between 15-30% depending on the casino. The rest of the money is divided up amongst the rest of the players at the table and, depending on the size of the casino, all the other players in the poker room.

What Are the Qualifying Hands?

Bad Beat Jackpot Lose CriteriaThe poker hand required to claim a bad beat jackpot will depend on the current size of the bad beat jackpot and the particular rules of the casino. Many casinos choose to increase the strength of the qualifying hand when the jackpot is small to avoid paying out of their own pockets and decrease the strength of the qualifying hand as the jackpot grows.

It’s not uncommon to see a casino start off a bad beat jackpot with a 5-high or 6-high straight flush needing to be beaten to win. However, as the jackpot grows, this is often reduced to quad aces, quad kings, quad queens, etc. Some of the smaller casinos will even reduce it to as low as aces full of jacks, giving players a great opportunity to win.

Are Bad Beat Jackpots Worth It?

If you have a choice of casinos, you’ll want to know whether it’s worth it to play at the one offering the bad beat jackpot. Well, the answer is that it depends. Bad beat jackpots require the casino to take a tiny percentage of each pot, which will eat into your overall win rate over time. However, if you’re lucky enough to be at the table when it happens, or even hold the losing hand yourself, you’re in for a huge payday.

A good rule of thumb is that once the qualifying hand reaches a low enough level, it’s worth playing in the games that are offering it. This is because the more likely the jackpot is to be won, the higher EV it is to play in the games that are offering it. 

Natural8 Bad Beat Jackpot

Natural8 Bad Beat JackpotWhile most bad beat jackpots are exclusive to live poker, Natural8 is running its own bad beat jackpot, available to players on their site. Anyone who plays Texas Hold’em, PLO, PLO5, Short Deck, or Rush & Cash poker games are eligible for the jackpot.

The equivalent of one big blind or one button blind will be taken each hand, subject to pot size, to help grow the size of the jackpot. Players of all game types share the same jackpot, which helps it to grow at a much faster rate.

The qualifying hand to win the jackpot will vary depending on the game you’re playing, as it’s much easier to make a strong hand in PLO5 than it is in Hold’em. Below is a breakdown of exactly what hand you need to lose with to claim the jackpot.

  • Hold’em/Rush & Cash Hold’em - Full House: Aces Full of Tens or Better.

  • PLO/Rush & Cash PLO - Quad 2s or Better.

  • PLO5 - Quad 8s or Better.

  • Short Deck - Quad 6s or Better.

There is no minimum pot size needed to trigger the jackpot, although the hand must go to showdown to be eligible. Both players must use two hole cards to trigger the jackpot, and pocket pairs are required to make the loser/winner’s four-of-a-kind. If a hand is run multiple times, only the first board is eligible for the jackpot.

Summary

While bad beats are a painful experience, winning a bad beat jackpot is sure to turn that frown upside down. A bad beat jackpot can potentially result in life-changing money just for losing a hand in poker! That’s why many people choose to play in casinos with bad beat jackpots. If you want to try these games for yourself, make sure to sign up for Natural8 today and start playing in any of their Hold’em, PLO, or Short Deck cash games.