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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 09/17/2008

This column could just as easily be called "Lucky Wins." That's because one man's devastating loss is another man's fortunate victory. "Bad Beats" sounds a little catchier though. Additionally, gamblers have a tendency to remember bad breaks more easily than good ones AND the heartbreakers make for better story-telling. With hundreds of wagering opportunities every weekend, there's certainly no shortage of choices.

This week, I'll look at a pair of games which saw the spread decided in the final seconds. Depending on which side of the fence you were sitting on, they could have been considered thrilling victories or gut-wrenching losses. For any new players, let's start by again providing the definition of a 'bad beat.'

Definition: In the world of sports-betting, the term bad beat refers to a heart-breaking gambling loss, most often occurring when a late score or fluke play changes the betting outcome of the side or total. In poker, bad beat is a term for a hand which lost, even though the cards appeared to be strong. It typically occurs where one player bets the clearly stronger hand and the opposing player makes a poor call that eventually "hits" and wins. In both poker and sports, the term is subjective. Therefore, you'll sometimes find that players/bettors will disagree about whether a particular hand or game was a bad beat.

Saturday, September 13

Iowa State at Iowa

This game was played in wet and windy conditions. Depending on when and where one played, the Hawkeyes were laying between -12.5 to -13.5 points. With one minute left, the Hawkeyes were up by 14 points and had the ball. One could argue that Iowa was "lucky" to be up by two touchdowns, as the Cyclones were held scoreless on two trips inside the 5-yard line and missed three field goals. (As mentioned, bad beats are subjective...) Additionally, the game was tied 3-3 entering the fourth quarter. Regardless, with the game winding down, it appeared that the Hawkeyes were destined to cover. What happened? Rather than risk having a punt blocked, the Hawkeyes took an intentional safety with 28 seconds left. Those were the final points scored, giving Iowa a 12-point victory. While trading two points for field position was probably the proper call in that situation, it surely wasn't a popular one with all those laying the number with the home team. The Hawkeyes took home the Cy-Hawk trophy but the Cyclones took home the cash. Depending on one's view point it was either a bad beat or "justice served."

Sunday, September 14

Green Bay at Detroit

I had another good Saturday. However, I endured a difficult Sunday, with this being my worst game. For starters, I lost my big play on the 'under' 47. However, with the final score finishing well above the number, that could hardly be considered a 'bad beat.' No, it was my second half play on the Lions (moneyline) which was the real stomach-turner. At halftime, the score was 21-3 in favor of the Packers. While Green Bay had looked impressive in the first half, I felt that the Lions had a solid shot at winning the second half. Sure enough, the Lions did come storming back. In fact, at one point Detroit held a 22-3 advantage for the second half. Unfortunately, that's when things began to really unravel. The Packers answered with a field goal which was followed by a touchdown. No worries - the Lions were still up 21-13 for the half with only slightly more than three minutes remaining The Lions had the ball and the Packers' only concern would be running out the clock. You'll never guess what happened next. Yes, the Packers ran back TWO interceptions BOTH for touchdowns in a span of 62 seconds. While many bad beats are debatable, I doubt many will argue that the Lions' second half bet was truly a tough loss.

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