When Patrick Farrell of Farmingdale, N.Y., saw the river card complete his straight flush to the 8 of spades, he had every right to be elated. A nice $620 pot was at stake in the $1-$2 No Limit Hold’em game at the Tropicana in Atlantic City.
What he got was so much more.
It turned out that while Farrell was sitting with 4-5 of spades and watched as 6-7-8 filled the board, Eric Zendle of Cockeysville, Md., was sitting even prettier with 9-10 down. His straight flush to the 10 not only took the pot, it unlocked the Trop Poker Club’s bad beat jackpot and made winners of the whole table.
The jackpot stood at $229,729.36, waiting for someone with a big hand -- aces full of kings or better -- to get beat by a hand of at least four of a kind. As the player who “suffered” the bad beat, Farrell took $91.891.74, while winner Zendle pocketed $45,945.87. Each of the other eight players at the table received $13,127.39.
Bonanzas for everyone!
When I read the news, memories came rushing back of my first time in a casino poker room, back in the early 1990s. It was at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, back in the days when the two Trops were under common ownership and the Atlantic City property was branded TropWorld.
My main games even back then were blackjack and video poker, but I’d played a fair amount of poker in college, and played often with other newspaper folk in Colorado Springs, Colo., and in Chicago.
We hadn’t played much Hold’em in those games, so for my first trip to a casino card room I settled for some $2-$4 seven-card stud. I’d also never heard of a bad beat jackpot before, but there was a meter in the room showing a pot of more than $20,000.
The kind of thing that happened between Farrell and Zendle, with one straight flush losing to a higher straight flush in same suit, is A LOT less likely in seven-card stud then in Hold’em. The Farrell and Zendle hands were built with each using the 6-7-8 of spades on board. There are no shared cards in seven-card stud.
On the other hand, the bad beat on the Vegas Trop’s seven-card stud game started with any full house. Even if your hand was 2s full of 3s, losing to a higher full house would trigger the big payout.
I didn’t really know the ins and outs of card room play, and I had no doubt that was obvious to the dealer. At a point when I was running low on chips, he warned me that I didn’t want to run too low. If I ran out of chips and had a good hand, I could win part of the pot, but I couldn’t share in the bad beat.
My moment came when I was dealt a pair of queens face down, and another queen face up. My three of a kind was well hidden, and even when I was dealt the fourth queen on the next card, I don’t think any of the other players had me pegged for anything better than trips.
I, on the other hand, was watching other hands and dreaming the dream. Two players kept betting me up for the maximum three raises on each hand. One player had an obvious straight, with no straight flush possibilities. I was a little surprised he kept betting me up, but I wasn’t at all unhappy that he did.
The other bettor showed four diamonds --- the 6, 8, 9 and ace. That’s the hand that had my stomach doing flip-flops. He probably had a flush, and I’d win the pot. But what if he had 5-7, or 7-10 of diamonds down? It’d mean the biggest check I’d ever seen at that point of my life.
As it turned out, he did have two more diamonds, but they were a 2 and a king. He gave a little laugh and shook his head at losing with an ace-high flush, and I told him I was looking for a straight flush over there. The dealer said, “So was I.”
It was a fun, exciting moment for me, a real adrenaline rush and all I got out of it in that limit game was a pot of something over $100. I can just imagine the rush for everyone at the Farrell-Zendle table in one serious case of when to lose is to win.
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