Introducing an idea that may take away from what makes poker a great game, a company known as InsuredPlay.com is currently beta testing a concept that offers all-in equity insurance to online cash game poker players.
Currently supported by PokerStars, PartyPoker and the iPoker skin Titan Poker, the idea is to reduce variance for players by allowing them to purchase insurance when going all-in or calling an all-in bet as the favorite prior to the river card being turned over. If the insured player ends up losing the hand to a suck out, the insurance will pay out the size of the pot. In essence, the insurance allows players to hedge their bets against losing to the statistical underdog who catches lucky cards and takes down the pot.
To avail themselves of all-in insurance, players must first open an account and deposit money at InsuredPlay.com. The player is allowed to define the parameters of the all-in hands to be insured. For instance, the player selects the minimum pot size to be insured, the maximum premium to be paid, the minimum odds percentages as a favorite, the poker sites played on, and the type of games to be insured. Currently, both no-limit and pot-limit for Texas Hold’em and Omaha games can be selected. Also, all conditions must be established prior to playing. A player may not purchase insurance while a hand is progressing or still in play.
Once the parameters have been defined and a player has funded his account, all hands that meet the selected criteria are automatically insured. Account funds will be added or deducted from a player’s balance upon the conclusion of hands in which the all-in insurance factors qualify. The cost of the insurance is based upon the size of the pot, the percentage set as a favorite to win the hand at the time of going all-in or calling an all-in bet, and an additional insurance premium fee. During beta testing, the fee is set at 5%. The fee will likely increase to 10% following the testing phase.
As an example, if an insured player went all-in against one opponent on a $50 pot after the flop and was favored to win the hand by 80% with a 5% fee, the cost of the insurance would be $10.25. This is calculated by multiplying the 20% chance of losing by the pot size (.20 x $50) and adding the 5% fee ($0.25). If the insured player should lose the pot, his account would be credited $50. If he should win the pot, his account at InsuredPlay.com would be deducted $10.25. A split pot would cancel the insurance.
InsuredPlay.com touts their new cash game insurance concept as allowing players to play tilt-free by protecting players who suffer bad beats with insurance payouts and reducing variance and downswings that can cause players to make poor decisions. Perhaps the poorest decision is choosing to purchase the all-in insurance.
Poker is a undoubtedly a game of skill that includes the factor of luck. Actually, it is the luck element which allows poor players to sometimes win and to keep returning to play again and again. The game needs losing players coming back to try again after remembering the times that luck took over and they won. This concept of insuring play against losing hands to an underdog seemingly takes away an element of the game that makes poker the great game that it is.
If you’re wondering if purchasing all-in insurance is a sound decision, mathematically, the cost will negatively effect your profitability. However, it may benefit the more skilled players by reducing variance. There has been a trend as of late, at least online, to once again improve the game for the more casual and recreational players. Most everyone throughout the poker industry is in agreement that the lifeblood of the game is the players who will not take advantage of such concepts as poker-tracking software and all-in insurance.
Only time will tell if this latest idea will be successful. But it sure makes me fondly remember when poker was played as a game of mostly skill and a little bit of luck, where such things as insuring your play against getting beat would be unheard of. After all, aren’t suck-outs part of the game? Don’t you want another player to go all-in as an underdog while you hold the favored hand? If you have to insure yourself against getting beat, aren’t you defeating the purpose of the game’s intent?