Hot on the heels of its 6+ Hold’em update, PokerStars is testing the merits of an innovative insurance feature that could help risk-averse cash game players.
Dubbed All-In Cash Out and first spotted by media site Poker Industry PRO, the feature is currently being trialed on PokerStars’ play money tables.
Players Can Protect their Equity
A look at the update shows that players have the option to take their equity in the form of cash when they’re all in.
As a real-life example, fans of Poker After Dark will remember asking for insurance was one of Phil Hellmuth’s favorite moves (see video below).
For PokerStars players, the feature will be an optional extra for all cash game tables, including 6+ Hold’em. The house (i.e. PokerStars) will act as the insurer and charge a fee equal to 1 percent of the player’s equity.
Like all forms of all-in insurance, the protection doesn’t affect the odds or outcome of the hand. What’s more, players aren’t under any obligation to take it.
This means one player may choose to take their equity while the other doesn’t. The one that lets the action play out will either win or lose the pot as determined by the value of their hand.
PokerStars All-In Cash Out in Action
To demonstrate how the new feature works, here’s an example hand:
$1/$2 cash game table
- Player A = AA (91.10 percent equity)
- Player B = AJ (7.67 percent equity)
- Tie = 1.22 percent equity
- Player A moves all-in for $100 from seat 1
- Player B calls $100 from the big blind
- All other players fold
- Pot = $201 ($100 all-in + $98 call from big blind + $1 small blind)
- Before the flop is dealt, Player A feels as though bad luck will strike and takes the All-In Cash Out insurance.
- Player B decides to let it ride.
- Player A receives $183.11 (91.1 percent of $201) minus 1 percent $1.83 ($183.11 X 0.01) = $181.28.
- Player B still has the chance to win $202 but they miss the board.
- Player A wins the hand and collects $181.28. The proceeds of the pot go the house.
PokerStars Driving Down Variance
For casual players, the introduction of insurance is a way of reducing variance and saving money. Given PokerStars’ drive to encourage more low stakes action, this seems like an ideal update.
For regulars, All-In Cash Out will be an alternative to running it twice, an existing option that will be removed when the new feature is live.
Looking through the comments online, experienced players have mixed views. Some feel it will encourage more all-ins and, therefore, generate more action.
However, others feel 1 percent is a high fee. Moreover, there are concerns it could stop players going on tilt after losing an all-in, something that could reduce a skilled player’s edge.
While those arguments are yet to be tested on a large scale, it seems as though PokerStars is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible online.
No other online poker site currently offers insurance for all-in pots, so that will instantly give it an edge. Beyond that, limiting the impact of negative variance could be appealing for novices which, in turn, may lead to more action across the site’s network of cash games.