Players flock to Pittsburgh as poker jackpot tops $1 million

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It sounds like the plot of a movie, but it’s happening before our eyes in Pittsburgh. The nation’s top amateur poker players, and indeed plenty of mediocre ones hoping for a slice of luck, are descending on the city’s Rivers Casino for one of the biggest jackpots in poker history. 

The bad beat jackpot is one that grows by a dollar with every hand that is played. It pays out under specific circumstances when a great hand is beaten by an even better one, and the current jackpot has been accumulating since it last paid out in April 2021. There is now more than $1 million in the pot and there’s a feeling in the air that the cards will be dealt that trigger it some time soon.  

Poker’s growing popularity 

Until recently, poker was seen as a game best left to the professionals. It’s understandable, given the way it is so often reflected on the big screen, that novices might be nervous about getting their fingers burned. But all that has changed over the past couple of years. Today, a complete beginner can log on to a legal online casino in Pennsylvania and try a game like video poker. It’s the prefect introduction to the game, as there are no other players to worry about, and it provides the ideal foundation.  

From there, players can advance to variations like 3-card poker and Casino Holdem – these are games played against the dealer, not against other players, but there are important areas of strategy that can be learned and perfected. At that point, amateurs feel far more confident about sitting down at a table with other players for a game of Texas Holdem. That’s the game of choice at the Rivers Casino and if the cards are favorable, that $1 million is there for the taking.  

How to win the bad beat 

The bad beat jackpot was a concept reintroduced to the Rivers card room by the casino’s Poker Manager Leslie Brittain in March 2021, after the casino removed it in 2017. On that occasion, it accumulated for about a month before triggering and so last April, each of the players at the table took a share of about $150,000. It has not triggered since, and has now swollen above $1 million and is rapidly approaching the highest bad beat payout in US history, which was $1,068,590. 

All it takes to trigger the jackpot is for someone at the table to have a great losing hand. In the movies, that happens all the time, from Le Chiffre’s full house losing to Bond’s straight flush in Casino Royale to Lonnegan’s four nines being beaten by Shaw’s four Jacks in The Sting.     

Yet neither of these scenarios would qualify for the Bad Beat. To trigger the jackpot, a player must have four tens or better, and another player must have an even better hand. It’s one of those freak events that even outdoes Hollywood, but one thing is certain – it is going to happen sooner or later