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Posted by on Jun 25, 2013 in Blog, General Poker, World Series of Poker | 14 comments

Announcing: For $1,000 I’ll Listen to Your Bad Beat Story




Let me be perfectly blunt.

If you tell bad beat stories, you’re a loser.

End of discussion.

Yes, I’m talking to you.  No exceptions.

When you tell me about how your powerhouse poker hand was cracked, you transform yourself instantly from someone I probably like into a total bore.  You’re a loser.  Now get away from me.



I’ve never told a poker bad beat story to anyone.  Ever (see footnote).  Accordingly, I have no tolerance whatsoever for such trivial nonsense.  Sure, I’ll listen sometimes if the bore is a really close friend, usually faking sympathy while daydreaming about something else.  I don’t like to see my friends sad.  But the bottom line is — I don’t care.

This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite lines about bad beat stories which go like this:  There are two kinds of people who listen to bad beat stories.  1.  Those who don’t care.  2.  Those who wish you’d lost more.

One of the most profound things I’ve heard at this year’s World Series of Poker bears repeating.  It was relayed to me by the champion of Event 38.  His name is Justin Oliver, from Toronto.  He won a gold bracelet and we were talking about his poker background after the tournament.

Oliver told a great story about a time when he was playing in a cash game at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  He took a wicked beat that cost him several thousand dollars.  Oliver stormed out of the poker room and started complaining to others who were around about the outcome of the hand — the quintessential bad beat story.  You know the schtick.

Oliver bumped into a man named Bill Hubbard who turned his poker career around with what amounted to a two-minute conversation.  Hubbard stopped Oliver and confronted him.  He asked Oliver if he was a winning poker player.  Oliver affirmed that — indeed he was.  Next, Hubbard asked Oliver — why the bad beat mattered then?  After all, if Oliver was truly a winning player, weren’t occasional bad beats just a natural part of the game?  Moreover, weren’t bad beats essentially seeding the prospects for future wins?

Obvious answer.

A winner shouldn’t be concerned about bad beats, because they will inevitably happen.  The more poker you play, the more bad beats you suffer.  Direct correlation.  No one is immune from this.  That’s just the way it is.

Winners understand this.

Conversely, the losing player complains about his bad beats because — he’s a loser.  He can’t win because he’s not good enough.  So he blames his losses on things like bad luck and bad beats, rather than his own lack of skill.  Naturally, acceptance of variance requires a long-term approach to the game.  But the bottom line is — just as Bill Hubbard once told Justin Oliver — winners don’t complain about bad beats.  Only losers do.

So, next time you’re out in the hallway and hear someone lamenting about taking a bad beat, be assured — that’s a loser.

That said, I have some very personal reasons why I won’t bear bad beat stories any longer.  It’s called self-preservation.  You’re a sadist by wasting my time and more importantly, my energy.  I’m here at the WSOP 15 hours a day with no days off for six straight weeks.  Over the course of the last decade, I’ve seen more hands played than you’ll see in your lifetime.  There isn’t a hand or a beat I haven’t witnessed.  Besides, it’s so cold in here, my penis has turned into a popsicle.  So, don’t expect me to show you any sympathy.

However, I am willing to make an exception.  I hereby announce a standing offer.  This will be in effect from this moment forward.  The offer is this.

I will listen to your bad beat story from start to finish for the sum of one thousand dollars.  Cash.  For an extra $500, I’ll frown and shake my head.  For another $500, I’ll make “tsk tsk” sounds, wherever appropriate.

No credit.  Payable upfront.

No discounts.

Heretofore, this is my policy on listening to bad beat stories:  If you don’t pay, I walk away.

Footnote:  Sports betting exempt from the discussion.


  1. My favorite answer to somebody who wants to tell me a bad beat story is “Did you have a Royal Flush and get beat? No? Then I already heard it…”

    That said, last night I put this guy on an overpair, and I had two pair on the turn and had him right where I wanted him so I smoothcalled…

  2. I only object to one part of this. The truth is that lots of winners complain, too. (Believe me — I know this to be 100% true.) They somehow convince themselves that they should have won *more*. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written the phrase “You’re a winning poker player. Please try to act like one.”

  3. Ha, nice article, but what I think what you neglect here is that not all bad beats are created equal. Just last night I was 2nd in chips with 11 left in a big tournament, closing in on my first final table. Some idiot chipleader decides to go all in with. 9-10 suited and runner runners a flush against my Cowboys, guess he thought he could run the table over. If you had seen the hand you might not have written this article today, pretty sick.

  4. I’m here at the WSOP 15 hours a day with no days off for six straight weeks.

    I think this is Nolan’s version of a bad beat story.


      All my bad beat stories start with three letters….”IRS.”

      — ND

      • Thats what happens to liars and cheats. Stop ripping of the IRS and the rest of us tax payers, shut your pie-hole and remember, your tips rely on bad beats!

  5. I am one of the few people who love hearing/reading about bad beats. Many times I’ve heard “bad beat stories are sooo boring”, but most good stories in literature/non fiction are yarns about bad beats – Job was given a wicked beat by God, Bukowski has yet another bad week at the track and has 8 short stories rejected, etc. What interests me is not so much the bad beat but how they are affected by it – will future decisions be corrupted by the past bad beat, or will they put it behind them and remain focused and positive? Without Mike’s bad beat in Rounders there is not much of a story to build upon – his life was changed by a single hand of poker, a bad beat, and what makes the story go is what he is able to do with it.

  6. So let’s see, you’re a winning player unhappy that you’re surrounded by people who demonstrate the characteristics of a losing player.

    Didn’t somebody just write a blog post about that?

  7. This is not a bad beat story, even though it starts like one. Two players were heads up and put all their money into the pot. On the river, aces full was beat by quad nines. At the end of the hand, everyone at the table was looking at the player with aces, expecting some grumbling. He looked up, slightly puzzled, and said “next hand.” Within the next 30 minutes, he had won back all of the money he lost, plus more.

  8. 1k and I’ll listen to your stupid penis jokes.

    They’re about on the same level.

  9. Story about the player that was knocked out in 14th place…discouraged, he took his winnings to the roulette wheel and chucked it all on #14. He lost when #13 came up. Downtrodden, he went to his hotel room for sleep, only to be awoken by a phone call from the Poker Room. A mistake was made and he actually finished 13th!

  10. I have ALS, I dont have time for my “skill” to come out ahead. so when a pair of 4s calls my ACES down to the river 4 to get paid off Yes I get upset !

    • But.. as Nolan tried to explain… No one cares!

  11. There’s a reason they do that Mav. But because of previous comments of yours I won’t bother to explain. You wouldn’t understand …


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