The Bad Beat Is Every Bettor’s Nightmare

Every sports gambler knows the pain of the bad beat—baseball leads the pack

The bettors line up at the ticket window as time ticks down on the game clock, all of them ready to cash in on their bet. The bet looks to be a sure winner. But then it happens. Suddenly, due to what seems like an unworldly occurrence, you have lost your bet.

Bettors on the wrong end of the outcome scream, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

Welcome to the world of the bad beat. Unfortunately, every sports gambler knows the pain of the bad beat.

What is a bad beat? Well, there’s no definitive definition, but it’s essentially snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory, and it happens on a “daily basis,” CG Technology Sportsbooks’ Will Bernanke said.

On Sept. 5, baseball may have seen its worst bad beat of the year — that is, if you were an Atlanta Braves bettor. That afternoon, the Braves were beating the Red Sox 7-1 in the 8th inning. That’s easy money for a Braves bettor. Then the planets aligned for the Red Sox and they scored six runs in the 8th inning, then tacked on another two runs in the 9th to win the game.

How rare is this? On that date, 487 teams had taken six-plus runs into the 8 inning in the 2018 season, and 487 of them won.


Bernanke details what it’s like for bettors on the wrong end of a bad beat.

“Right before it happens, not all bettors, but many bettors are planning their next bet and, rightfully so, they’re counting their money,” he said. “So they’re almost caught off guard, and then next  thing you know, as it starts falling, it’s almost like a disbelief, the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. They see it happen and it’s a collective sigh. There’s silence and the disbelief and then the screaming.”

All sports can claim their  fair share of bad beats, but baseball seems to have the most, Bernanke said, mainly based on the sheer volume of games.

“There’s certainly more opportunities for bad beats, and therefore, just pure simple math would add up more situations like that occurring,” he said. “In baseball, there’s no time limit, so there’s always time for a bad beat.”