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From Jackpots To Bad Beats: The Best (And Worst) Poker Game Moments In History

Poker games are defined by big wins & big losses

What do you remember more, you jackpots or your bad beats? If you’re like us, you remember them ALL very clearly: both the moments that got you the wins, and the ones that cost you the pot. We’ve picked four of our favourite moments in poker – two of the best and two of the worst. They might not all teach you how to keep or build your chips, but they’re certainly memorable.

World Series Of Poker: Insane bad beat where pocket aces lose

Some poker games are destined to live longer in the memory than the player themselves, and the 2011 World Series Of Poker (WTOP) produced one such game. In one of the most famous bad beats in history, 2011’s WTOP Shaun Deeb goes bust against pocket Max Heinzelmann, despite starting with pocket aces.

Deeb was sublime in his deception of Heinzelmann, getting him to go all in on a six-bet. What hand did Heinzelmann have? Ace/six (offsuit). Deeb was a 93% favourite before the flop, which came 10 (Hearts), 6 (Hearts), King (Clubs) – neither player had hearts. The river was a Queen of hearts, before Heinzelmann made trip sixes on the river.

For Heinzelmann this was the best moment in poker history, for Deeb it was most certainly the worst. 

PokerStars Player’s No-Limit Hold’em Championship: Ramón Colillas wins $5.1M

Poker is an extraordinarily popular game, with more than an estimated 100 million players around the world. While many people enjoy playing poker, lots of the biggest tournaments are too expensive for everyone except the pros and the super wealthy. PokerStars Player’s No-Limit Hold’em Championship, held in January 2019, was created to allow regular players to enter a major tournament, and boy did it deliver!

1,039 people entered, of which 320 were Platinum Pass qualifiers – normal people who won their place by playing online Poker Stars tournaments with a rock bottom entry. The final two players at the tournament were French pro, Julien Martini, and Spanish Platinum Pass qualifier, Ramón Colillas – a former fitness trainer.=

In one of the most watched and enjoyable finals in recent memory, Martini began with 40.3 million chips and Colillas with 18.25 million. The key moment comes when Martini begins with 9/6 (hearts) and Colillas has Queen/5 (clubs and spades). Martini flops a flush (the odds of this happening are 118-1) and Colillas hits a Queen. A further Queen comes on the turn before a 5 on the river, at which point Colillas checks, Martini goes all in and the Spaniard becomes the massive chip leader. Colillas went on to win a truly brilliant game of poker, taking home $5.1M.


European Poker Tour: Disgusting angle shoot at the grand final in Madrid

Gamesmanship is something that exists in many games and sports – it’s not necessarily cheating but it’s certainly unethical and definitely frowned on. In football, there’s time wasting, in cricket, there’s ball tampering, and in poker, there’s angle shooting. Angle shooting is a practice that could have led to you being ‘actually shot’ in the early days of poker. At the European Poker Tour (EPT) grand final in Madrid guns could have been fired at the table.

Ivan Freitez opens the betting with 6/5 of hearts, which is called by Eugene Yanayt, who has King (diamonds) Queen (spades). The board ends Five (clubs), 3 (diamonds), King (spades), 5 (diamonds), 6 (spades), giving Freitez a full house and Yanayt a pair of Kings. Freitez initially says raise, before saying he meant to just call – knowing he would be forced to make the raise.

Freitez is made to make the minimum raise, with EPT tournament director Thomas Kremser informing Yanayt that Freitez had pulled the same angle shooting earlier in the tournament. Yanayt eventually makes the call, leaving him with no chips and you with no respect for Freitez.

European Poker Tour: Victoria Coren-Mitchell makes history with a second win

Celebrities are meant to be the fish in a poker tournament – they’re supposed to saddle up to the table, take their seats, and then give you some laughs and all of their money. English writer and presenter Victoria Coren-Mitchell is no celebrity poker player; Victoria Coren-Mitchell is a poker pro and she’s so good that in April 2014 she became the only player to win the European Poker Tour (EPT) twice.

Having won her first EPT in September 2006 (becoming the first woman to win an EPT title) Coren-Mitchell began the final hand of the 2014 final with Queen Jack (Spades and Clubs). Coren-Mitchell’s opponent was Italian gent Giacomo Fandaro. What did Fandaro begin with? Only pocket aces (Clubs and Spades).

Facing an opening raise, Fandaro flatted his aces only for the flop to give Coren-Mitchell two pair (Queens and Jacks). The turn gave Fandaro a gutshot straight and went all in, which Coren-Mitchell called. The final card was a brick, causing Fandaro to bust out and seeing Coren-Mitchell make history – while winning a pot of €476,100.

Poker can be a game of sheer joy or crushing misery, and it may be due to how you played your hand or just rank bad luck. Whether you’re playing poker, blackjack, or baccarat, make sure you know the rules, otherwise you could walk your way into a bad beat or get yourself shot by accidentally angle shooting!

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