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The Salty Bet fighting-game casino might be the craziest thing on the internet

By Matt Gerardi • August 9, 2013

In the past year, I’ve been watching as many fighting game tournaments as I could. Every large tournament has several advertisers, mostly familiar names, but there was always one that seemed a little odd: Salty Bet. I knew what Salty Bet was—a website where users can wager fake money on matches during tournaments—but I had no idea what it was used for when there isn’t a tournament happening. Then I listened to the latest episode of the Giant Bomb podcast and discovered the crazy reality.

If you head to Salty Bet right now, you’ll find users betting on matches in “Salty’s Dream Cast Casino,” a never-ending stream of randomly generated, computer-controlled fights. The combatants in each fight are culled from the thousands of user-created characters of M.U.G.E.N., a free fighting game framework. M.U.G.E.N. only comes with one character, Kung Fu Man, so the emphasis is on player creation. But the tools available to users aren’t exactly user-friendly, and the upshot is that many custom characters are sloppily built, ludicrously overpowered demigods who, ironically, lay waste to the better-designed, well-balanced characters in the mix. A lot of what you’ll see are characters ripped straight from other fighting games, like Street Fighter and Marvel Vs. Capcom, or from anime and comic books.

Each match starts with the characters being introduced, followed by a short betting period. The odds and payouts are then determined by how many people bet on each character, and the fight begins. The top earners are tracked in a leaderboard displayed on the site. The fun of Salty Bet isn’t necessarily watching the matches, as many of them will be completely one-sided. The draw is in the meta-game—looking at a character and thinking about all the factors that might make it either a god or a wimp. It has nothing to do with the relative strength of the character itself—Spider-Man and Peter Griffin might as well be equals. It’s all about considering the thought that went into making the character and whether you think the person behind it was trying to make an actual balanced fighting game character or just the strongest monster you’ve ever seen. And sometimes it’s just fun to watch Captain Caveman beat the tar out of Frog from Chrono Trigger.

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  • rvb1023

    MUGEN is incredibly interesting but not really good at all, though I always wanted to just try it out. Did not know Salty Bets was fake money. I might have to get in on that, make fighting game tournaments even more hype.

  • DrFlimFlam

    This week’s Giant Bomb has me intrigued about this. I will have to check it out post-haste for the weird of the weird.

    It would be neat to see an AI fighting system with some rules in place to ensure the combatants were more balanced and fit into a general size requirement (it sounds like tiny ugly sprites can beat well-designed characters because they’re hard to hit), but it still sounds like a fun way to waste an evening.

  • vinnybushes

    well, crap. There goes my afternoon and/or my free time and/or my life.

    • vinnybushes

       Tip from my ten minutes of experience: Always bet on megaman characters.

      • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

        I won a lot of pretend money on that Air Man match.

        • vinnybushes

          I made the mistake of betting against shadow man, but I would have made an amazing amount of money on the match had he lost.

        • vinnybushes

           and I just bankrupted by motherfucking fred flintstone. *sigh* easy come easy go.

        • NakedSnake

          @vinnybushes:disqus I bet it all on Sonic when he went up against Mike Tyson (aka Mr Dream). It was in the punchout ring and definitely had a dreamlike quality to it. Tyson toyed with Sonic for two rounds, winning on damage at the end of the round. And then in round 3: one-hit KO. Bankrupt. 
          Sometimes I think this boxing thing is rigged. 

    • Matt Gerardi

      Teti and I have been betting all afternoon. This is bad for all of us. 

  • GaryX

    Ugh, BOMBCAST SPOILER ALERT you guys!

    • DrFlimFlam

       They do go on at length about it, don’t they?

  • Bisyss

    SaltyBet also occasionally archives fights that take place so people can watch them later, which means there is now video footage of Thanos being given the run-around by none other than Ronald McDonald.

  • mslano

    Salty Bet has been great fun all season for following all the major FGC events.  I don’t know about betting on MUGEN fights, though.  It’s like betting on pool fights between two unknown players taken to the nth degree of randomness.

  • Oxperiment

    I just spent an incredible amount of time throwing fake dollars after bad characters. I saw Garfield beat down a miniature Spawn. A seizure inducing glitchfest character called uppercut. And the roar of the crowd, which could have just been bots. I may have been the only human in there.

  • Boonehams

    There are a few rules for Dream Cast Casino that can lead to safer betting:
    1) As a general rule, never underestimate cartoon characters, especially
    anime characters (and especially anime schoolgirl characters).
    2) Bet on DragonBallZ characters. 9 times out of ten, they win.  Even if
    they are losing in the beginning, guaranteed, they have an instant-kill
    beam move that they bust out at the end.
    3) The more the character looks like they were made in MSPaint, the safer
    it is to bet on them.  These characters were designed and coded by
    psychopaths to be the most powerful creatures in virtual reality.

    Happy gambling, everyone!