The End of Bad Beats

No Bad Beats PokerPoker is by nature a game of chance.  That’s what makes it so spectacular, really– it appeals to casual players as well as game theorist and mathematicians, who carefully calculate the odds of every hand.  Even statisticians understand, however, that sometimes in poker, as in life, there are anomalies.  Sometimes the improbable happens, which is precisely what makes it improbable and not impossible.  Even the smallest chance that an event could occur introduces an element of risk, and it’s this potential risk that makes the game worth playing.

In poker, there are what are known as “bad beats,” where a player with a strong hand who is favoured to win nonetheless loses, due to an opponent getting a card they needed, usually on the turn or the river.  Many online poker sites have ways to keep this from happening to players, and allow players with strong hands to take part of the pot when they lose, and one, No Bad Beats Poker, is specifically geared towards compensating players who suffer (you guessed it!) bad beats.

While online poker sites and their affiliates have to keep their players happy, what kind of world is it if the losers are compensated, simply because they didn’t think that they would lose?  Yes, a bad beat can put players on tilt, as Phil Hellmuth has demonstrated by his repeated outbursts over losing a hand that he thought he had in the bag, but isn’t the potential for loss part of the challenge of the game?  If you hold a full house and go all-in against an opponent, who draws a straight flush on pure luck, you’ll probably be upset, but changing the game so that players simply can’t lose changes the strategy of the game by eliminating the biggest risks associated with it.

Part of the problem is that there’s no agreed upon definition of what qualifies as a “bad beat,” as what it means varies from person to person.  No Bad Beats has come up with a way to deal with this by creating an algorithm that determines the “equity” of a player’s hand.  If certain criteria are met (someone at the table goes all-in, your equity percentage at the time of the all-in is sufficient, you don’t fold at any point, and you lose), then your entire wager will be returned to you.  Wait, your entire wager?  Doesn’t that kind of screw over the player who was willing to make the risk and go all-in, since they don’t get all of their take?

Every available No Bad Beats Poker review (there aren’t many, as the site debuted in early 2011) suggests that the site is the perfect balance for competitive players and those who are easily frustrated.  It seems, however, that if one wants to be a truly competitive player, one must sometimes deal with a little frustration.  There’s a bigger lesson at play here:  sometimes in life, things don’t go your way, and you can’t just hit the rewind button to get out of a sticky situation.  With No Bad Beats, however, you can.

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