The call from Ocala Poker & Jai-Alai was music to my poker ears.
The room was tossing its bad-beat jackpot. They said it was tying up too much of their players’ money. They wanted to do more promotions. Get the money back into the community more quickly. I couldn’t agree more, I told them.
A few days later, I arrived in Ocala for an Ante Up Poker Cruise event. My eyes couldn’t miss it. A big sign greeting all players said, “Bad-Beat Jackpot is Back By Popular Demand.”
Ugh. So much for a victory.
I can’t blame Ocala. You have to listen to your players. If they say, “Give us a bad-beat jackpot!” then, well, you have to give them a bad-beat jackpot.
But I do wish players would take a step back and consider the cost of a bad-beat jackpot.
A poker room executive once told me, “Players love bad-beat jackpots.” I corrected him. “No, gamblers love bad-beat jackpots. Poker players hate them.”
Why? It’s simple. Poker is a game of skill. So why would you want the poker room to take a dollar (or more) from your skillfully won pot to give to some luckbox who happens to get his quads cracked by a royal? It’s simple. You shouldn’t.
I used to be against that dollar disappearing from my pot for any reason. But I’ll admit that since rooms are handicapped so much by our state’s crazy poker laws (for now), that putting on good promotions is essential to break out of the pack. And everything short of a bad beat is much easier to hit. Rack attack? Sure, that’s fun. High hand? OK, still kinda tough, but I’ll take it. But the astronomical odds of not only getting a big boat, but also hoping someone has a bigger boat or better? Sorry, I’m just not buying it.
I got a giggle from a poker room manager when I told him, “Heck, instead of dragging a buck from my pot for a bad-beat jackpot, I’d rather you just give me a Powerball ticket.”
I was only half-kidding. Sure, the odds of hitting the Powerball are insane, but so is the money. Hitting the Powerball is life-changing. Hitting a bad beat? Unless you’re on food stamps, it’s just not.
And here’s the one that really kills me: You grind away day after day in your local room. But that conventioneer from Kansas shows up one night, hits that jackpot, and ferrets that six-figure payout back to DorothyLand.
You want him taking our money out of Florida? I don’t.
But are bad-beat jackpots good for the rooms? Sorry, not buying that either. Sure, when the jackpot hits big numbers, people are beating down the door to get into your room. But as soon as it hits they’ll trample right back out the door you just re-hung. In fables, it’s akin to killing the golden goose.
I’ll give the Bad-Beat Brigade one small victory. A bad-beat jackpot packs the room with gamblers. And a smart player should always want to play against a gambler.
But for my dollar, that’s just not enough.