No, This Isn’t The Worst Bad Beat In Poker History

During the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this year, there was a really, really bad beat given by Cary Katz (an executive at a student loan company) to Connor Drinan. The stakes in this tournament were exceptional, since each entrant had to put up $1,000,000 of his or her own money.

It wasn’t to be. Katz won on a flush draw, bouncing a disbelieving Drinan right to the curb. Drinan ended in 18th place, and walked away with nothing but the worst bad-beat story in poker history.

The odds of Katz winning post-flop were pretty low. As the indicator showed on the video, Katz had to catch two hearts (runner-runner hearts). The odds of this occurring are 5%. This is caluclated based on a 52 card deck, minus the 4 cards in the two players hands (two each), minus the three on the board. There are ten hearts left in the deck (we count all unseen hearts as live, even if one or more were discarded by other players). So the odds of drawing a heart on the next card is 10/45, or 22%. To do it two times in a row, the odds become 5% (10/45 times 10/45).

When Katz gets a heart on the turn (the 4th card), his odds become 20%. There are only 9 hearts left in the deck (out of 44 cards), but he only needs to spike one. He pulls it off, eliminating Drinan.

Actually, this isn’t the worst bad beat in poker history (though it was really freaking terrible).

The legendary “Texas Dolly,” Doyle Brunson, author of the “Super System,” which is considered by many to be the “Poker Bible” describes a story of what is by far the worst poker beat of all time.

Player one flops quad (4) aces. Player two is drawing dead to two perfect cards. Player two catches runner-runner to make a Royal Flush.


(Image courtesy

A Royal Flush is the highest straight flush possible in poker: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten.

I don’t recall the board in Dolly’s example, but the point is that Player two needed to catch runner-runner to crack (beat by upset) the four Aces. He was able to catch something like the Jack of Spades and the Ten of Spades. The odds of catching one specific card would be 2% (1/45, based on the odds as calculated above). The odds of catching two perfect cards back-to-back? 1/2025, or 0.05%.

That is the worst bad beat in poker history.