Friday, July 27, 2007

Calling All Suckers

Absolute Poker's new, terrible 'Bad Beat Jackpot'Almost titled this post “Absolute Applesauce.”

I hadn’t been playing too often over over Absolute Poker lately. So when I logged on this week and took a seat at a low limit ($1/$2) Hold ’em table, the “Bad Beat Jackpot” bar at the top of the screen was new to me. The scrolling numbers had nearly reached $90,000 at the time, I believe. I played a few hands, then clicked around to find out more about what the Bad Beat Jackpot actually was.

According to the site, if you lose holding a hand of Hold ’em after making quad eights or better, you “win” the Bad Beat Jackpot. To be more precise, the entire table wins. 65% of the current jackpot gets distributed among the players who were dealt into the hand. Half of that goes to the lucky sap whose quad eights or better got cracked, 25% goes to the winner of the hand, and the other 25% gets divided among the other players. What happens to the other 35% of the jackpot? 25% goes back into the jackpot (so it never gets completely exhausted). And the last 10% goes “to the house,” as Absolute puts it.

Still reading, I go back to the table and play a few more hands. That’s when I notice that second pile of chips to the right of the chip rack at the top of the screen. I went back to read a little further. Hmm . . . in addition to the usual 5% rake, I see there’s an extra “jackpot rake” happening at these Bad Beat Jackpot tables. Whenever the regular rake reaches a quarter -- that is, whenever the pot reaches at least five bucks -- an extra fifty cents is taken out of the pot for the Bad Beat Jackpot.

How bad is that? Playing at low limits like the $1/$2 tables, the added jackpot rake essentially means the rake is more than doubled on just about every single hand. And while Absolute trumpets that it has apparently happened a couple of times -- that someone with quad eights or better has lost a hand and the jackpot has been duly awarded -- this can’t be the sort of thing any rational person could expect to see. Thinking back, I can’t say I have ever seen such a thing a single time in, I dunno, a quarter million hands of Hold ’em or so. I do recall once witnessing a quads over quads situation in a micro fixed limit game, but the loser had quad threes, if I’m remembering correctly.

What a truly horrific promotion. Especially for poor suckers like me who don’t have any sort of rakeback in place at Absolute. And Absolute keeps 10% of the jackpot as well! In other words, the site has figured a way to take an extra nickel from every pot played at these tables.

I quickly trucked my fanny over to a non-jackpot table, though I noticed there were fewer of those running. Jackpot tables are highlighted in red in the listings -- and there seem to be a lot more red tables running at the low fixed limits ($0.50/$1, $1/$2, $2/$4) than non-red ones. That’s players’ choice, of course. One can always open a new table -- of the Jackpot variety or otherwise -- if one desires.

After an orbit or two at the non-jackpot table, I formed another hasty impression: there were a few more decent players at this table than at the jackpot one. A lot more preflop raising and suitably aggressive play here than at the jackpot tables, where had been several instances of 6-7 players limping to see flops. Would be interesting to discover if that’s a trend -- if less-skilled players gravitate toward the jackpot tables. Makes sense on the surface, actually, that players with a bit of a clue about how to play -- and about the significance of the rake -- would actively avoid those profit-punishing jackpot tables.

A trade-off, then? Pay more to “the house” to play at the easier tables? If I bother to look into this any further, I’ll let you know. Such an investigation might be too pricey for me, though. It’s not like I have a special expense account for such sleuthing.



Blogger John G. Hartness said...

Just like at B&M casinos, "Jackpots" in poker are just another way to increase the rake. They never give back 100% of what they take in, otherwise why would they offer these promotions?

It does, however, sound like Absolute's deal is even worse than Party's used to be.

7/27/2007 10:49 AM  
Blogger Simon said...

Promptly cashed out of Absolute shorlty after this promotion started.

I would agree that your suspicion of poorer play at the bad beat tables is correct, however, I didn't stick around long enough to work out whether it was worth it.

If you do decide to give it a go I'd be interested in hearing your results.

7/27/2007 1:04 PM  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

According to bonus whores, the jackpot needs to be standing at or above $315k for it to be +EV to play $1/$2 fixed limit on the jackpot tables.

7/30/2007 11:15 AM  

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