In online sports betting, a bad beat is a popular term used to describe a brutal and unlucky loss.
While the term has become mainstream in sports and is now used in a variety of different ways by different people, a bad beat traditionally refers to a late-breaking play – often improbable – that affects the point spread or total in the final seconds.
Example of a Bad Beat in Betting
As a shining example of a bad beat, consider the 2023 Week 8 NFL game between the Cardinals and Ravens.
Thousands of football odds bettors holding Ravens -9.5 tickets were delighted to see Baltimore leading Arizona 24-7 with just nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Josh Dobbs finally found Trey McBride for a 17-yard touchdown to cut the game to 24-15, which was the first score for the Cardinals since their opening drive. The Ravens answered back with a Gus Edwards touchdown in the final minutes. It was 31-15, with Baltimore in control with a 16-point lead.
The Cardinals scored a garbage-time touchdown with 74 seconds left, bringing the score to 31-21. The 2-point conversion failed, and -9.5 bettors remained safe.
But Arizona proceeded to recover an onside kick and booted a 47-yard field goal with only 26 seconds left in the game. Final score: 31-24.
The Ravens led at halftime, dominated the game, and were covering for most of the fourth quarter. But because of two different scores inside of the final 90 seconds, the Cardinals were somehow able to cover.
It was, as they say, a very bad beat for Ravens bettors.