First we had the concept of Bubble Insurance, allowing you to purchase protection from “bubbling” in online MTTs.
Now InsuredPlay brings the same variance-reducing concept to online cash games by offering all-in equity protection. Earlier this month, we sat down with CEO Emre Kenci to get a demo of the tool set to launch a public beta test early in April.
Basically, InsuredPlay (external link →) allows players to pre-purchase insurance for cash game hands when a player gets all-in as a favorite before the river. If you get it in as a 70% favorite in a $100 pot, you insure the hand for $30 (plus an insurance premium). If you lose the hand, the insurance pays out the pot size. In effect, you are hedging the bet, backing your under-dog opponent to reduce variance and become indifferent to the outcome of the hand.
But how does it all work and is it worth it? For that, read on.
The InsuredPlay system consists of two parts: the online website and the desktop application. From the website, a player can sign up and manage their account, view previous insured/paid-out hands, and deposit and withdraw funds into the InsuredPlay cashier.
You can configure the parameters that define which all-in hands will be insured. No decisions are made in-session: only hands that fit your preselected criteria will be considered as insured. You can set:
- The minimum odds of all-in hands that you wish to insure – The lowest (and default) is 51%; so all hands where hero is a favorite. This can be increased to hands that have a larger equity to only select real “coolers.”
- A minimum pot size you wish to insure, so only large pots will be considered.
- The maximum premium you wish to pay – If this is set, then pots over this threshold will only be partially insured.
- Which sites to insure hands – Currently only PokerStars, PartyPoker and Titan Poker—an iPoker skin—are supported.
- The games to insure – No-limit and Pot Limit are supported for both Hold’em and Omaha games.
Once configured, and with funds in your account, you simply need to download the small desktop application and get playing. The app monitors all action on the supported sites in real time, uploading hands to the server. Assuming you have enough money in your InsuredPlay account, any hands that match your defined criteria will be automatically insured. Funds will be deducted or added to your account balance automatically, and can be viewed as you play.
The insurance cost is based on the pot size, your hand-vs-hand equity when you are all-in, plus an insurance premium.
This premium is based on a sliding scale relative to the number of insured hands you have played in the last 30 days. Your first 10 hands or less will be insured for 10%, but after that it drops steeply, and is as little as 1% once 200 hands are insured. As an incentive, players that sign up as beta testers will start out at a 5% rate for their premium.
Lets take a real example. Let’s say we get all in against a single opponent in a $100 pot on the flop as an 80% favorite to win the hand, and we currently have an insurance premium of 5%. Assuming we have the InsuredPlay software running and this hand matches our filters, then the hand will be insured.
The cost to insure the hand is the % chance to lose multiplied by the size of the pot – so in this case, 0.2 * 100, or $20. Your insurance premium is then an extra 5% on top of that – 50c. In total you pay $20.50. If you lose the hand, then $100 will be credited to your account. In the event of a split pot, the insurance is canceled and nothing is paid.
This all happens seamlessly on the InsuredPlay servers, leaving the user to continue playing and be happily ambivalent to the results of the all-ins.
Website and Social Media
From insuredplay.com, users can see all hands that have been insured, and search and filter through previous logged hands. There’s also a built in hand replayer, odds calculator and a historical “luck” graph to show what your results would have been without the insurance in place.
The site is also tightly tied in to social media, and the owners are hoping that the system will grow organically through Twitter and Facebook shares. Customers are incentivized to share hands, as all friends you send hands will receive an invite to InsuredPlay. If your friends decide to join, InsuredPlay will pay referral fees of 10% for a period of six months.
Is it worth it?
From a purely mathematical standpoint, the cost of the insurance has a negative impact on your win rate. However, for a fee, the service can reduce the effects of variance. This can mean less stress for some players and it can reduce your risk of ruin and thus change the bankroll requirements for moving up stakes.
The cost for players at the lowest tiers seems too high. But the beta tester promotion allows players to begin at the middle tier and as a player logs more insured hands and progresses towards the top tier, the cost becomes more reasonable. The 200 insured hands required to reach the highest level should not take long for serious players.
Lets take a quick look at how it works for a player at the top tier: if you get it in full stacked as an 80% equity favorite, for example, your total insurance premium is 20% * 1% * 200BB: 0.4BB.
Whether this kind of cost is worthwhile to the player—either enabling him to move up with more confidence, help with tilt and play longer sessions—will be up to the individual.