When a large bad-beat jackpot hits in an Atlantic City poker room, the people playing at the lucky table are usually the only beneficiaries.

Until Tuesday, that is.

Harrah’s Entertainment debuted its citywide bad-beat jackpot Tuesday morning, with a starting amount of $524,045, casino officials said. When this jackpot hits, anyone playing Texas Hold’em at the four Harrah’s Entertainment properties in town — Harrah’s Resort, Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City or the Showboat Casino-Hotel — gets a share of the booty.

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For those who don’t frequent card rooms, a “bad beat” is when a poker player holds a strong hand but loses the pot to a player with an even stronger hand. Many poker players love to talk about their bad beats.

Most Atlantic City poker rooms have a progressive bad-beat jackpot, with a small amount taken from each hand played to contribute to the big prize. In most casinos, the player with the bad beat gets the bulk of the money, the winning player gets a portion and the other players at the table also get a share. Each casino sets its own rules as to what hands qualify for the jackpot.

But the four Harrah’s casinos now have a new way to divvy up the prize money.

Starting Tuesday, 30 percent of the jackpot will go to the bad-beat player, the one with the losing hand, officials said. The winner of the hand will get 20 percent, and the remaining 50 percent will be divided among everyone playing Texas Hold’em at all four properties. The minimum prize will be $100.

The bar for hitting the jackpot will get lower every week until a winner claims it, Harrah’s officials said. At the start, the losing hand must be four queens or higher to qualify. Each Wednesday the jackpot has gone unclaimed, the criteria will be lowered by one rank, to four jacks, then 10s, and so forth to four deuces.

Harrah’s Entertainment decided to go with a companywide bad-beat jackpot so the prize grows more quickly, said Jennifer Weissman, regional manager of marketing for Harrah’s Atlantic City operations.

Before Tuesday, only Bally’s split the bad-beat jackpot among all the players in the room. Weissman said the players were happy to get a piece of the prize, and Harrah’s decided to make it a policy for all four properties to add to the excitement.

The Bally’s jackpot hit before the companywide prize pool went into effect Tuesday, Weissman said.

A bad-beat jackpot of $553,958 hit at Caesars in January, when Steven Gedney, of Dover, Del., had a hand of four threes that lost to the four aces held by Chris Dobrzanski of Bridgewater. It was the Atlantic City record at the time, and Gedney won $276,979 for his bad luck, while Dobrzanski’s good fortune earned him $138,489 plus the pot of about $400.

Contact Elaine Rose:

609-272-7215

 

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