Many years ago, some caveman or another came up with the brilliant idea that “hey, fish don’t fight as well as dinosaurs, let’s eat them instead”. Thus fishing was born. However, fishing is about as exciting as an extreme aging competition in your local home, so to pass the time, the aforementioned cavemen invented fish stories.
Fast forward a couple of decades. Some cowboy or another comes up with the idea of robbing fish instead of trains, and invents poker. However, to the professional player (which everybody is, really. I dare you to find someone who’ll define himself as an “average” or “poor” player) poker is about as thrilling as quadriplegic racing, bad beat stories were invented.
Bad beat stories serve two purposes. A really good bad beat story serves to show both what a great player you are, and what a complete retard everybody else is. Moreover, because all poker players are hardcore gamblers who’d shoot you in the back for a pretty penny, the community as a whole is fairly distant, and the stories help draw people together, because nobody ever tires of hearing about aces getting cracked.
This article will help you master the fine art of writing bad beat stories, as there is nothing sadder than cracked aces going untold about.
The stakes have to be high.
Nobody is interested in what happens in penny ante games, and rightfully so. How much anguish can one derive from losing 37 cents? And if you don’t care, why should your audience?
No, the right way of going about things is to tell about astronomical stakes, preferably so high none of your readers has ever played in them.
“I was playing in the $50-$100 pot limit in the Belagio…” – Good.
“I was playing in the $5000 ante tables in Texas with a bunch of oil tycoons” – Better.
“I was playing for fun…” – Terrible.
The odds against you have to be irrationally slim.
Losing as a 70% favourite happens all the time (it can be proven mathematically; however, this is a subject for another article altogether). Nobody’s impressed by that. What you want to do is make sure your story features odds so amazing, anyone who hears it will immediately petition the Supreme Court to reverse that stroke of bad luck, as it offends both man and God in its hideous unfairness.
“I went all-in with kings, got called with jacks and lost to a rivered jack” – Good.
“I went all-in with Ace-King suited on the flop with a made nut flush, and got called by a bottom pair who proceeded to hit runner runner quads” – Better.
“I made a small bet with a top pair and lost to someone with a better kicker” – No.
The people you’re playing against have to be despicable.
Every story needs a good guy and a bad guy. Seeing as the position of “good guy” is currently being occupied by you, the other guy will have to settle for the less desirable role of “the bad guy”. What this means is you have to make the audience really despise the other guy, usually accomplished by making sure his move was so grossly inept and mathematically incorrect, the only reason he won was through sheer evil, and nothing more.
“I went all-in under the gun with pocket aces in the first hand in the game, got called with 57 suited and lost to two pair” – Not bad.
“I went all-in on the flop with aces, the board was AKQ rainbow, got called by 57 suited who also called my huge raise preflop, and lost to runner runner flush” – A lot better.
“I kept going all-in because those idiots kept folding to me, and then when I got kings I got called by Ace-Jack and lost because he flopped an ace. PP sucks” – Not as good.
Use as many poker terms as possible.
We earlier explained a part of the point of a bad beat story was to illustrate what a great player you are, in contrast to everybody else on earth except for Phil Helmuth. This is further strengthened if you make sure to use the obscure poker terms and names for anything and everything. Remember, if nobody has any clue what the hell you’re on about, there’s less chance anyone will doubt your story.
“I went in with bullets and lost to big slick on a rivered broadway” – Pretty good.
“I chiseled with hooks only to be double-trapped by wild billy and eat a spaz, of all things, on the jump. Those fish, I tell you” – Pretty damned good.
“I had two cards with the same funny picture on them, so I put some of the chips from my pile in the middle, then the other guy did the same” – Could use some work.
Those are the basic concepts. To help you understand them and put them to good use, I’ve included one of my own bad beat stories. Enjoy.
I was playing heads up in the final table at WSoP, which also happened to decide for US presidency that year. Because the dealer is a Sh’akr’a of mine, I knew my Ace-King suited would hit a royal flush, and I could tell from there my opponent’s got golden boys. So we went all-in, when suddenly one of the spectators took a break from molesting children, and said “sure, I’ll play. Will this trust fund for cancer research money do?”. The perplexed dealer dealt the turn and river cards, which gave me the absolute pure nuts. As I started grabbing the pot, the spectator, who in the meantime chain-smoked two packets of cigarettes and annihilated a tribe of Native Americans, revealed two Magic: the Gathering cards, yelled “I attack you for 20!”, hit me on the head with a hammer and ran away. When I came to, I was laying face-down in a ditch in Mexico with a large scar on my side, and scribbled on my forehead were the words “welcome to the AIDS club”. Damned fish.