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Bad Beat School  
by Vince Burgio 
 (Added 03/12/2004)

There are some players who cannot talk to you for more than a minute or two before they tell you a bad-beat story. They are nice people, but they almost have a compulsion to make you listen to a bunch of “he had this and I had that” and “the flop came this,” and, well, you know, on and on.

My complaint is that these people carry bad-beat storytelling past the point of normalcy.

Recently I was playing in a tournament when the unthinkable happened
— I got knocked out. There was nothing really unusual about my exit; my two kings were beaten by A-10. I certainly was unhappy, but not overly frustrated. However, I did become frustrated as I was leaving the tournament area. I was approached by a player who started telling me how he had just lost a big hand. I tried to be polite, assuming that he had also been knocked out. But then I looked down at where he had been sitting and saw a small mountain of chips. That’s when I thought something must be done about “these” people.

After I got home and gave it some thought, I came up with something
that might be a good idea — a set of rules governing bad-beat
storytelling. We would punish any player who got caught breaking these bad-beat storytelling rules.

The first rule would be that no bad beat stories could be told by anyone still in a tournament. It is very annoying when someone who’s still in a tournament tells a bad-beat story to someone who is already out. I know it would be tough to lose 90 percent of your chips by having aces beaten by A-6 offsuit and not be able to tell people about the bad beat at the break, but it would be one of those “Sorry, it’s against the rules” situations.

We all know that it is natural to exhibit some frustration after just being knocked out of a tournament. So, bad-beat stories would be allowed for a certain amount of time after being eliminated. Let’s say that players would have a 10-minute window in which to tell a story, and the length of the story would have to be less than one minute. I think that would be sufficient time. We would call this the “10-one” rule.

As is the case with all rules, there would be some exceptions. First, we would allow one-sentence bad-beat stories to be told for a period of about one hour. That means you could say something like, “I just got aces cracked by an 8-4 offsuit.” But, there could be no elaboration or details of any kind.

One exemption beyond the 10-minute window would occur when the severity of the beat warranted a longer period of time to vent. We would allow anyone having quads or better beaten a two-hour time period to relate the gory details of their beat. This seems fair and equitable, bearing in mind that this will happen only occasionally.

Another allowance would be made for the person going out on the
bubble. We all know how that can make us feel, so we’d give that
unlucky soul a couple of hours to unload on fellow players with no

The “English only” rule would not be applicable. By that I mean, even bad- beat stories told in foreign languages would be punishable. However, it might be difficult to find informants among the different ethnic groups who would be willing to turn in their countrymen. On the other hand, I checked with some of my friends who speak different languages, and they all said that bad-beat stories told in foreign languages are just as bad as when told in English.

OK, now that we have some ground rules set up for when and where players can tell their bad-beat stories, here’s my idea for punishment:

The penalty, were you to get caught breaking any of the bad-beat
storytelling rules, would be similar to the one imposed when you get
caught breaking a traffic law. But, instead of having to go to traffic
school, you would have to go to “Bad-Beat School.” School would be held on two consecutive Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The instructor would be none other than the colorful and loquacious Dirty Wally. He would discuss the bad-beat rules over and over again, and explain why you shouldn’t break them. Then, of course, there would be the obligatory film that makes you feel like you are slowly being tortured to death. If it is possible, this school would be even more boring than traffic school. If you’ ve ever been to traffic school, you know what I mean — those eight hours seem like an eternity.

The second Saturday would be even worse than the first, with the class taking a field trip. All of the players in Bad-Beat School would be given a box lunch and bused to the home for retired hold’em players. There, the retired hold’em players would be encouraged to share all of the bad beats in their lives with the players in the class. At the end of the day, mercifully, the school would be over. Those who made it through the school would be asked to sin no more and then would be given a diploma and a nice T-shirt with the imprint: “I survived Bad-Beat School.”

I know this penalty sounds harsh, but think of the rewards. I am
guessing that if my plan were to be carried out, three-fourths of all
“illegal” bad-beat stories would go untold. Sure, there would always be some who would break the rules, and many players would hesitate to report violators, but most, I think, would abide by and obey the rules. It would almost be like Heaven on Earth.

For what it’s worth …
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