Friday, 17 December 2010

Year 1 as a Pro - Bonuses

If you are playing for a living its important to maximise your earnings and take advantage of as many bonuses, offers and promos as possible.

Rakeback is common to most sites and essential to get so that you can get back a percentage of all the rake you pay to the poker room. It can be problematic on some sites depending how you first signed up, but although my full tilt account is old I must have just downloaded it via their website so was able to get rakeback. If you are unable to get it at your preferred site you should seriously consider changing where you play.

For a while at the the beginning of the year I was taking advantage of bonus offers at both Absolute Poker and Full Tilt, but as the year has gone on I've stuck primarily with Full Tilt. It is worth being aware of the offers on other sites if you play enough to meet the requirements for their promotions. At times your chosen games at your main site may not be running or just not be very good so you might want to consider what else is available and take advantage.

The requirements for some promotions can be quite complicated and often require you to opt-in rather than being given to you automatically. The poker rooms need to have these to compete with each other, but they obviously would prefer if they didn't have to pay out to everyone. Full Tilt's "Take 2" and "Iron Man" promotions are good examples of this in that you have to elect to participate. Hence, its important that you take the time to read emails, promotion pages and research what is available.

Full Tilt has a number of schemes that it is worth taking advantage of if you play cash games:

  • Rakeback - 27% of rake paid back weekly
  • Iron Man - worth up to $600 of bonuses every 6 months, plus more from "iron man medals"
  • Black Card - double full tilt points, exclusive store with cash bonuses and a little more
  • Take2 - extra full tilt points during promo period
  • Happy hours - extra full tilt points for playing specific games at specific times of day
  • Rush week - bonus for playing rush (rigged so I wouldn't recommend it!)
  • Miscellaneous one-off or seasonal bonuses
I think its important to keep in mind that these are all just bonuses and not get too attached to any of them. The poker rooms will makes changes and suffering from losing one just isn't worth it. There has been a lot of hate directed at Full Tilt after their recent change from dealt to weighted contributed rakeback and the Black Card scheme which many had over-hyped for themselves by expecting it would compete with Pokerstars. If many regulars leave for Pokerstars as they are saying they will, then Full Tilt games should become a little softer, so it isn't all bad!

One danger of getting bonuses and trying to achieve or clear them is to rush through the extra volume required. A few times I've managed to lose more than a bonus is worth by playing more than I should or games that I shouldn't.

Full Tilt have just started a promo where you can get up to $100 bonus if you spend 140k ftp in their store. Yesterday I bought a $500 Black Card bonus for 125k pts and plan to buy another cash bonus to make it up to the required 140k ftp spend. With the volume required to clear these, plus the $100 bonus when it comes, plus working off the Iron Man $600 bonus in January I need to put in quite a lot of volume over the next 8 weeks. I was definitley affected by this yesterday and played some things I shouldn't and effectively threw away some of the bonus that I was trying to get.

I play some torunaments now and again and treat these in a similar way to bonuses - if I can win some extra then great but no problem if I don't. Spending iron man medals or full tilt points on tournaments can achieve a much higher rate of return on them in you are competent. I also find playing tournaments can be a great motivator to put in some good volume at cash while the tournament is running or just to take a mental break from cash games. Swapping some % of yourself or buying a % of others in torunaments can help smooth out the variance too and make a return more likely (especially if it is with Gary! - he won me $900 the other day while I was asleep.. definitely a nice bonus :)).