Salty Bet: What is this thing?

The latest craze in the gaming community is Salty Bet, a website that streams AI vs AI battles of the freeware fighting game M.U.G.E.N and allows viewers to place bets on which fighter will come out victorious. I always used to chuckle at the thought of gambling being an addictive activity, but Salty Bet has caught me within its clutches.

For those unfamiliar with it, M.U.G.E.N is a freeware fighting game that allows its users to create characters and stages, while allowing them to customize pretty much anything they’d like. Because of that, the number of characters/stages available in the game is practically infinite, and each character’s statistics are completely unpredictable. This makes the game perfect for streaming 24/7, while having a roster that viewers (in theory) won’t tire of.

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Upon reading the details of Salty Bet, I was pretty skeptical. How could gambling be exciting if no real, spendable money is exchanging hands? And, well, even though I can verify it is exciting, I can’t really explain why. I suppose it has to do with the community aspect of Salty Bet. On the chat bar (The panel on the right-hand side pictured above), you’ll see your fellow viewers cracking jokes at the lunacy of the fight, blurting-out obscenities in the shock of their fighter losing, and really just having fun time. Another thing that adds to the addictive nature of the game (?) is the randomness of it all. One character may look stronger than another, but for all you know the small character was programmed with an instant-kill attack, or some characters might not have any strong attacks at all. You also may see the same character multiple times, but it’s almost assuredly not “the same” character.  Whether they look identical, or slightly different, there’s a good chance a repeated character has at least slightly different stats from its lookalike. This almost completely prevents a “sure win” betting scenario. Also, I can almost guarantee you’ll see three different versions of Goku within two hours of watching.

The average match goes like this. You’ll be given a chance to see each character that will be fighting for ten seconds. Then, without seeing what/who your peers are betting on, you’ll set your wager on whichever character you feel has the best chance at winning. Then you watch the fight, and either reign victorious, or lose miserably.

“But what happens when I run out of fake money?” you ask? Well it’s quite simple, you wont run out of money. Your account will always have a minimum of ten fake dollars. Going down to this measly amount of fake-dough is called being in the “Salty Mines.” It can take a while, but with that small amount of money viewers can claw their way out of the Salty Mines and get to a more reasonable account balance.

It’s hard to tell how long its popularity will last, but Salty Bet has me pretty well hooked. Interactions with its community are pretty pleasant, and the thrill of watching a fight you’ve put some money into — even if said money holds no real value — is an exhilarating experience. I have a feeling this is the closest thing we’ll have to cyborg gladiator tournaments in our lifetime, so if you were hoping you’d be able to watch/bet on cyborg gladiator tournaments, you’d probably enjoy taking part in some Salty Bets.