What is a Bad Beat?

If this title made your stomach turn, we feel you. Some speculate the origins of a bad beat stem from poker. As it relates to sports, a bad beat is when you are almost mathematically certain of winning a bet – like covering a spread or hitting an over under and the unthinkable happens. Often times the play will have no bearing on the game's outcome. Certain announcers are notorious for remarking something like “ouch” or will even burst out laughing instead of exclaiming “what a play!”

Sports gamblers will recall a bad beat with vivid recollection and in detail that would rival Shakespeare. Being on the winning end of one of these experiences is equally elating. The old saying “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” is as accurate a description for a bad beat as exists. Over the years, the bad beat has become so prevalent in sports gambling, Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP), created a segment highlighting them on ESPN. Here are a few segments to set the table.

For some sports gamblers, a bad beat experience will be the last bet they ever make. Others will burrow deep in conspiracy theory rabbit holes. Most will shake it off, wear the scar proudly, and laugh about it… in twenty years.