September 2007
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Party Pants

I’ve had a bonus offer from Party Poker sitting in my inbox for nearly a week now.  It actually expires at midnight tonight, so I’ve really left it until the last minute.  The problem is that I just can’t find a way to convince myself it’s worth depositing for.

This is a pretty depressing time.  Any Party bonus in the past has always been a must-play situation.  I’d hate myself if I found I missed one.  Until just now, it’s always been a number of raked hands that’s required to clear the bonus.  You contribute rake on roughly two-thirds of the hands you play at low stakes fixed limit hold’em (even at $0.50/$1) and on about half the hands at any no-limit from $0.25/$0.50 upwards.  It’s always been really easy to clear their bonuses at low stakes, even with a raked hand requirement equal to 10x the bonus dollar amount.  Play no more than 2000 hands for a $100 bonus?  I’d get eight-tabling and bash it out in two very manageable evening sessions, and only go a little square-eyed in the process.

Those days are gone.  Instead of counting raked hands, you now have to earn a set number of PartyPoints to release a bonus.  In the case of the bonus I’m about to let expire, it would be 6 points per $1 in bonus.  I’ve also just had another bonus offer that’s even less generous at 8x points per $1.  Frankly, I’m not sure why they think I’d take the second if I ignored the first, but it’s nice to be missed nonetheless.

So, earn 600 points for a $100 bonus?  What does that mean exactly?  It’s complicated.  Playing the old standard $0.50/$1 or $1/$2 limit you earn 3.5 points for every 20 raked hands so that’s nearly 3500 raked hands needed to clear this bonus.  There’s only seven days to meet the requirement before you lose the bonus completely so that would take me every evening.  Because obviously I’d never dream of playing poker during work time.

No limit is no better, with 20 hands earning you 3 points at $0.25/$0.50 and 5 points at $0.5/$1.  Double the blinds again and it’s still only 8 points per 20, and I never really got the hang of playing more than 4 tables of no-limit anyway, let alone trying to 8-tabling a $100 buy-in game for any length of time.  I just can’t see how a casual player has any chance of doing this at small stakes any more in the seven days allowed.

$2/$4 limit is clearly the level where they start to make some serious rake, as the reward value shoots up to 11 Party Points for every 20 raked hands.  That’s triple the rate of $1/$2!  I’m fairly happy playing $2/$4 and for a juicy bonus I’d be prepared to open up as many tables as I could fit within my field of vision.  It would leave me with a much more achievable release condition for the bonus – 1100 hands.  11x raked hands is almost back to how it used to be.

Just one minor drawback: nobody actually plays $2/$4 on Party!  I’ve been keeping watch all week.  Tonight there are actually two full tables, but the second has only just started up.  There was just one table struggling to get going at 6pm UK time, so I think I’d struggle to get in enough hands even if I played as many as both tables all night, every night.  Nope.  I just don’t think I can do this with poker.

So how about the casino?  I’ve started to get back into playing blackjack for casino bonuses again (more on this will surely follow) so I could play it through that way.  But it says you earn one Party Point for every $200 bet, which would make the total wagering requirement a cool $120,000.  Compare that to the $500 bonus I just got from Sky Vegas for $10,000 in action.  It’s not even close to being worthwhile.

Even if you could find a way to do this (you’d either have to use a bot, or play $100 a hand, surely?) and even if their blackjack game is excellent (and fair, of course), just a 0.1% house edge would win back a theoretical $120 for the house by the time you’d cleared the bonus.  No value there whatsoever, and I haven’t even bothered to check out their blackjack rules – I know it’s going to have a higher edge that 0.1%.

Their sportsbook then – a last resort?  The best rate you’re going to get on a straight wager is one point per $5 in bets.  On popular sports it’s $10 or $15 for the point.  If I deposit $500 for the $100 bonus, let’s say I can earn 100 points through risking it all on a game.  If I win and double up, I could risk it all for 200 points, and then I’d only nede to put $1500 on the last game to get to 600 points.  It’s possible, but it’s not for me.  If you’re not putting your entire bankroll on every game, sports just won’t happen fast enough to get through the bonus in 7 days.

I guess I can understand why they’ve had to tighten up, because they were literally giving away their chips with these promos.  Whenever I’ve calculated just how much, it’s been very good news for the player: for a $100 bonus, they were paying out $45 more than the rake I had generated at $1/$2 limit, and $65 more than their revenue from $0.25/$0.50 no-limit.

The only other option I can come up with is to deposit a smaller amount – it’s a percentage-based bonus – and play enough hands at $2/$4 in a week to earn maybe $20.  You know what… I just can’t be bothered.