November 2008
« Oct   Dec »



Going for going for gold

I’m such a sucker for a tiered loyalty program.

The number of turbo sit-and-gos I play on Poker Stars each month tends to mean that I can just about retain SilverStar, and if I’m running a little short of points as the end of the month approaches I’ll make an effort to play a bit more in order to keep that precious status.

I don’t know why I bother really.   I worked out the actual value of doing this is about $12 per month.

<show working>

The benefit of SilverStar (1500 base points per month) over BronzeStar (no qualification required) is that your FPPs (the points you can spend, not the VIP points that determine your status) accumulate 50% faster at the higher level.  Once you have that level you keep it right through to the end of the following month.

So the difference between earning your first 1500 points in month as a BronzeStar player vs SilverStar is 750 FPPs.  One FPP is worth about 1.6 cents, so those extra points are worth about $12.

</show working>

Like I said, I’m a sucker for it.  But you know that without people like me these schemes just wouldn’t exist.

I do wish I hadn’t bothered going out of my way to keep my status at the end of last month though.

PokerStars are currently running an promotion where you get a bonus if you increase your VIP level this month.

If you upgrade from bronze to silver, you get $50, so if I’d actually dropped back to BronzeStar last month this would be an easy $50 for not really any more play than I’d usually put in.  Much better than the $12 worth of player points from maintaining that level.

But now I need to bypass silver (1,500 points) and get to gold (4,000 points) for a $100 bonus.

It’s not even real money, it’s a bonus in your poker account that you then have to earn 7x the dollar amount in points to unlock.  But the thing is, I just can’t say no.

$100 for free, and all I have to do is play about two and a half times as much as normal, and then make sure I play again next month too?  Sure, sign me up.

Well, I started off thinking that’s how it was going to be, probably looking at 3-4 hours a day to stay on top of it, but Claire convinced me I should take the opportunity to move up levels (which will earn points twice as fast, so I don’t have to play for as long).

I was some way off the latest win goals I’d set myself before taking another shot at the next level, but in the absense of having the stats to back up a decision it does help to have someone to blame if it all goes wrong. 🙂 So I’m going to go for it.

I never wrote about what happened last time I tried this though.

Everyone loves a graph, and this one has even been annotated to add trend lines as I saw fit.  You can even click on it for a high def version.  You lucky, lucky people.

This is my entire PokerStars single-table SNG history for 2008 so far (apart from steps, which can’t be measured the same way).

I’ve marked four zones on the graph.  Starting from the left, the first section is all $16 tournaments, and I was winning.  Then I moved up to the $27s and crashed and burned.  Next, I dropped back down to the $16s but played 6 at a time instead of the 4 I was used to, where I carried on losing – albeit slightly slower.  Finally I dropped back down to 4-tabling and things seem to have settled back down to how they used to be.

I’d only given myself $500 to play with at the higher level, which lasted just over 200 tournaments.  That isn’t really enough to know for sure whether I was getting killed by the game or I was just running bad.  I’m still optimistic that it was the latter, but the downward trend seems pretty consistent after the initial spike.

The thing that really stands out when I look at those results is the number of times I cashed for the least possible money.

Overall I finished in the money almost as often as I did with the $16s (38% vs 40%) but on the $27s I had more 3rd place finishes than the total of my 1sts and 2nds put together!  With 1st paying two and a half times as much as 3rd, that’s going to make quite a difference to my overall return, and I’ll need to watch closely this time around to try to see if there’s a reason I’m a habitual bronze medalist.

What surprised me most though was the difference between my results on the $16s when 6-tabling versus 4-tabling.

I really didn’t think I’d be giving up too much by playing two more tables – hoping, eventually, to be able to move up to 8 or more tables at a time and increase my volume before increasing my stake.  I accepted I might not win as quickly if my concentration was being spread thinner, but I certainly didn’t expect to suddenly be losing money at the same rate I used to be winning it.

The reason I dropped right back to four $16s at a time was to see if I’d still got what it takes to beat that game.  It’s not a huge sample size (which is why I was hesitant to move up just yet) but things seemed to change almost instantly.  The graph appears to be going in the right direction and the last magenta line is virtually the same gradient as the first one.

So I don’t think I’m broken, but apparently four tables is as many as I can handle.

Anyway, the heat is on and the time is right for me to play my game.  Going for gold, four-tabling the $27s.  Watch this space.