The Merge Gaming Network has discontinued operating bad beat jackpot (BBJ) tables after the jackpot was hit for $599,000.
The end of the BBJ promotion was announced in August and the jackpot grew until late October when SEREN1TYN0W’s quad 8’s were beaten by the four 10’s of mister275.
The decision to no longer run the bad beat jackpot tables was done to “ensure a healthier poker room ecology,” said a Carbon Poker representative in August. Carbon Poker is the largest skin on Merge. The network hopes to offer players “better ring game selection and increased players at the stakes the BBJ tables use to be.” PartyPoker also pulled BBJ tables from its site in March, similarly desirous of achieving “a healthier poker room, offering better cash games and more players to play against.”
The rules of bad beat jackpot tables are slightly different among online poker sites and live casinos but typically require a player to lose a hand at the showdown stage with quads or better with both hole cards of both players in use. The jackpot accumulates by taking extra rake from each pot, 50 cents at Merge, and contributing that amount to the jackpot. Other rules at Merge specify that four players must be dealt cards in the hand.
When the jackpot is hit, 70% is distributed to the players who were dealt cards in the hand, 20% is used to seed the next jackpot, and 10% goes to the house or Merge as an administration fee. In the case of the final jackpot, the 20% typically used to seed the next jackpot was added to the players’ cut. Of the 70% distributed to the players (90% for the final BBJ), the loser with the Merge requirement of at least quad 7’s or better receives 50%, the winner of the hand gets 25%, and the rest of the players dealt cards split the remaining 25%.
The popularity of bad beat jackpots has waned recently after being all the rage among the recreational crowd just a couple years ago. Online pros and poker purists often cringe at BBJ promotions that add a lottery-type element of chance to a game of skill. On a speculative note, I believe that casual players are getting smarter and realize that sitting down at a BBJ table and getting $0.50 yanked from each winning pot in order to contribute to the jackpot is bad for profitably. For low-stake players, that additional amount raked from each winning pot can turn winning sessions into losing ones.
Although poker rooms are looking for ways to attract recreational players to maintain a healthy mix of all different skill levels, the BBJ promotion is no longer a way to do that because the BBJ is an extremely losing proposition for most and casual players have become aware of that.