4 Most Heart-Wrenching Losses in the World Series of Poker
December 18, 2023
December 18, 2023
The World Series of Poker has seen tens of thousands of hands played since its inaugural 1970 event at the Horseshoe Casino.
It has been particularly active in the last couple of decades, increasing prize pools and the number of tournaments, most streamed and televised.
This allowed fans to see more legendary clashes, stone-cold bluffs, Cinderella stories, and everything else that makes poker the most exciting card game in the world.
Another thing that can make a poker tournament memorable is the bad beats, which sometimes are as unforgettable as winning hands. Having a great hand and losing can be heart-wrenching for the player who lost but entertaining to almost everyone else.
There’s something captivating about watching a player confidently raise and think they have the upper hand, only to see the sheer surprise and despair on their face after the showdown.
Let’s check some of the worst bad beats recorded at WSOP events.
# Vanessa Selbst’s Early Loss With Pocket Aces (2017)
It was only day one of the 2017 WSOP Main Event when Vanessa Selbst drew pocket aces, not realizing they would lead to her early exit.
A triple WSOP bracelet winner at the time, Selbst bets under the gun and receives calls from Bauman with her pocket sevens and Schwartz’s J-8. The river was A-7-5, with all clubs, bringing Schwartz a club away from a flush and completing trips for both Selbst and Bauman.
Selbst confidently four-bets on the river, having the strongest set as a 62% favorite. Schwartz gives up on his flush draw and folds, but Bauman calls. This seems like a dire situation for Bauman, who now only has a 4% chance of winning the hand.
But, wouldn’t you know it, the turn is a seven of spades, giving Bauman quads and leaving Vanessa with a single out despite having aces full. Bauman bets 1.7k and Selbst raises to 10k, resulting in a quick call by the French player. The four on the river changes nothing, Selbst stakes 16k, and Bauman raises to 36k. After long consideration and saying,
I don’t know if I’m good enough to fold this
Selbst goes all in.
Bauman quick-calls and shows the quads, to the surprise of all players at the table. Selbst leaves, saying,
I wanted to fold
But can you blame her for not doing so?
# Matt Affleck Loses Late With AA (2010)
Pocket aces make for some of the most memorable bad beats, considering they are theoretically the best two cards you can draw.
When Matt Affleck was dealt pocket rockets at the 2010 WSOP Main Event as one of just 15 players remaining and second in chips, he must have felt pretty good.
His opponent in this round, overall chip leader Jonathan Duhamel gets a pair of jacks and is first to act by doubling the pot to 575k. After a couple of re-raises, Matt calls, bringing the pot to nearly eight and a half million.
The flop is 10-9-7 rainbow, leaving Affleck worrying less about a flush but giving Duhamel a gut shot at a straight. Duhamel checks and Affleck bets 5 million. Duhamel calls, so we now have 18.4 million in chips in the middle.
The turn is a queen of diamonds, effectively helping no one and leaving Affleck as a 79% favorite. Duhamel checks again. Affleck takes a few seconds and decides to go all in, putting pressure on his opponent. Duhamel stays quiet for a few minutes but ultimately decides to call.
The cards are on their backs, Affleck stands up, and the river is…an 8, giving Duhamel a straight.
Affleck was so close to becoming the overwhelming chip leader and a favorite to win the whole thing. Still, there’s no shame in finishing 15th in an event like this, and he got to take home just over $500k for his efforts.
# Daniel Negreanu Faints After the River (2015)
Daniel Negreanu who is a GGPoker ambassador is well-known for his quick-witted humor at the table and often being on Lady Luck’s good side. However, he surely won’t have any funny jokes to tell about the 2015 WSOP Main Event.
Only 11 players left, and everyone was tense with the final table in sight. Joe McKeehen two-bets on the button with a diamond-suited J-3 and receives a call from Negreanu’s A-4 at the big blind.
The flop is 10-K-A with two diamonds, giving McKeehen a flush-straight combo draw but pairs Negreanu’s ace and leaves him as a 56% favorite. Negreanu checks, McKeehen bets, the Canadian doesn’t hesitate to go all-in with 5.82 million, and the American calls.
McKeehen has 11 outs and has Negreanu covered in chips, so this is not exactly a terrible situation for him. The turn is a 3, giving Joe five additional outs but dropping his chances of winning the hand to 36%.
Finally, the river is a queen, completing McKeehen’s straight. Negreanu literally falls to the floor, covering his face with his hands. This was the second time Negreanu finished 11th at the WSOP Main Event, again missing the final table by inches but still pocketing over half a million dollars.
# Brandon Caputo Drops Out of the Final Table With Aces (2021)
It’s always tough when you lose a good hand, but going through a bad beat at a big event’s final table can be heart-wrenching.
One of the unluckiest bad beats was seen at the final table of the 2021 WSOP event #13, with the lead roles taken by Brandon Caputo and Harvey Matthews. Here’s how it went:
Caputo is an overwhelming short stack in the small blind with five players remaining, so drawing pocket aces is an excellent shot for him to bring it back. Caputo limps in, and Matthews checks in the big blind, having diamond-suited 7-2.
The flop is a 10-2-3 with a single diamond, which improves Matthews’ hand but still leaves Caputo as a 78% favorite. Caputo continues to fish with 160k and gets a call from his opponent. The turn is an eight of diamonds, inching Matthews closer to a flush.
Caputo bets 300k, but Matthews is not going anywhere with his pair, a flush draw, and a leading stack. He goes all in, and Caputo has no choice but to call with his pocket aces, still being a 70% favorite.
As fate would have it, Caputo didn’t avoid one of Matthew’s 13 outs, as the river was a queen of diamonds. So, instead of doubling up, Caputo dropped out in fifth place.