All Cards Exposed on Bovada
Thursday, March 22nd 2012 5:28 pm
Bovada (formerly Bodog) has made a habit of going against the grain of other online poker sites. They limit cash/SNG tables to 4 max and recently made every table on the site anonymous. And now they've made everyone's hole cards available. If you play a hand on the site, after a 24 hour wait you'll now be able to see everyone's hole cards from that hand.
It got me thinking about whether this was good or bad for the game. Clearly this could only work on an anonymous site. How long would a high stakes cash player play here if his every hand was viewable to his opponent afterwards? But with anonymous tables, all we know is Player 4 bluffed us out with Queen high. So let's look at the pros and cons.
1. It's cool to see what your opponent had when you fold. I've certainly made plenty of bad calls over the years because I "had to know". With the new Bovada, simply make what you think is a good fold, mark the hand, check it later. Win win.
2. It should serve to legitimize the games a bit. Once Bovada went the anonymous route, a lot of people wondered if Bovada had anonymous bots taking your money at every table. That's a concern on any online site. And more so on an anonymous site. But with exposed cards, it should make that sort of cheating more difficult. Sure they could doctor things still but it adds another layer to deal with.
3. Similar to # 2, it should make it easier to catch colluders, which is a huge concern in anonymous games.
4. Theoretically you could research hands to see what average players do in your games. Again we don't know if that's a good regular making this play or the worst player at the table. Just Player 4 or whatever. The real hangup here is that the hand histories are a bear to go through. They are text-based and nothing like the last hand replayer used by Poker Stars. So this point has limited value.
1. Bad players can improve by looking at hand histories. But I suspect almost none will. First off, most recreational players won't care to look at past hands (or even know it's available). And even if they were curious, the horrible hand history format would make it too tedious. Finally, because it's all anonymous, it's hard to learn what a good play is. Just looking at the play of someone who won a SNG may be misleading if he happens to be a horrible player.
2. This is the big one. I have no idea if it's possible, but whenever you put this data out there, the botmakers and cheats will flock. I imagine it would be a very difficult deal to comb through the hand histories as they are now. And as far as I know, you can only see hole cards from hands you've played which removes the datamining aspect. But if the hand histories are usable to botmakers, all it would take is someone grinding a month of 1/2 tables to get an awesome idea of what the typical 1/2 players are doing.
I don't have the technical expertise to know if the # 2 Con is realistic, but if it is, then clearly it trumps everything else and this is a bad thing to implement. Otherwise, I actually kind of like it given the anonymous state of the site.
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