I recently had lunch with Rob Fulop, my friend from my videogame designing days. He recommended Tulan, a really good hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant in the middle of the Tenderloin, a section of San Francisco where slum meets business district. As usual, we had a wide ranging conversation, which included an update on a really good idea Rob had long ago, which he has refined somewhat over the years, but not yet implemented.
The original idea was for backgammon tournaments, but now would make more sense at poker tournaments. At a tournament, hundreds or even thousands of players get together, pay an entry fee, maybe around $50 for a minor tournament and sometimes thousands of dollars for a tournament like The World Series Of Poker, which is now a bunch of tournaments over several weeks. The way large tournaments are set up, maybe about one person in ten will see a profit, while the vast majority of players will have lost their entry fee, and nearly all of them will feel they lost only because the fates conspired against them.
Here's Rob's idea, which he calls The Bad Beat Bettys. Hire hostesses, not hookers or strippers but hostesses. Attractive, well-groomed young women in sharp and flattering business appropriate attire, each sporting a bright, friendly button that reads Hi! I'm Betty. For a nominal fee, and that fee might change depending how much the entry fee for the tournament is, you pay a Bad Beat Betty and she will listen sympathetically to your tale of woe for five minutes. If you need more time, you pay her for a second five minutes. It might go something like this.
Hi! I'm Betty. What's your name?
Hi, Betty. I'm Matty Boy. This is my first time. Do I pay you now?
Yeah, that's how it works.
(Hands over money.) Okay, so it's the first hand of the tournament and I wake up in next to last position with pocket kings.
Good way to start the day!
I certainly thought so. The guy under the gun puts in a raise about four times the big blind, one guy calls and the rest fold. I triple the original raise. The button folds, the guys in the blinds run away, and action is on the original bettor.
You've made a very strong play. He should fold.
That's what I think, but instead he goes all in. The other guy who called now folds and it comes to me.
You think he's got the aces?
It's a distinct possibility, but I can't fold pocket kings now, can I? I go all in. I say that if it's a cold deck, so be it. It's not a cold deck. He has pocket nines.
What a donkey! He re-re-raises all in on the first hand with nines? He deserves to be horsewhipped!
Well, I'm not sure horsewhipping is in order, but I am a 4 to 1 favorite to win. Here comes the flop. Q, J, 3.
Three blanks. He's putting on his coat now, isn't he?
No, he doesn't have enough sense to do that.
Next card is a 8.
Oh, no. He doesn't get a nine on the river, does he?
No. The river is a 10. He makes an inside straight on the river with his pair of nines, and me with my cowboys, I'm here talking to you. The deck wasn't cold before the flop, but it was a cold, cold river.
(Places her hand sympathetically on my shoulder.) Matty Boy, I've been working here for a few days now, and I have to say that is the saddest story I've heard yet.
Thank you, Betty. I knew you'd understand when I related this true story, because this week, It's All About Me™.