July 2009
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Least accessible poker bonus ever?

I just had this offer in an email from Party Poker.

Wow, a $975 bonus.  It’s a random amount, but it’s huge.  How can I resist?

5,850 Party Points sounds like a fair chunk, but to be honest it’s so long since I played there I couldn’t even remember how you earn them.

Playing tournaments, you earn 2 Party Points for every $1 paid in fees.  You pay $2,925 and get back $975, so it’s equivalent to getting precisely one-third of your fees back.

Not a bad deal.  But do you remember the last time you paid three grand in tournament fees in a month?  Me neither.

Admittedly, I rarely play much higher than the $20s, so I’d be looking at around 70 sit-and-gos a day for 21 days to unlock this bonus.  That’s a full time job – assuming you can play a dozen at a time, and I can’t.

It’s more achievable for high stakes SNG players.  The $100s have a $9 fee and Party have capped it $10 per tournament for higher buy-ins, right up to the $5,000 tournaments.  It would take 325 $100 tournaments or 293 at any higher level to get there.

That’s roughly 15 per day, which is still high for a casual player, but it’s more realistic.  However I can’t help thinking that if you can play that many of high stakes tournaments, you’re serious enough about poker to already have a rakeback at least as good as this elsewhere and that you wouldn’t want to jeopardise your VIP status by taking a few weeks out for this bonus, when you’d get almost no perks from Party after the bonus is over.

So… if it’s going to happen, it’ll have to be cash games.  A few years ago when Party Poker bonuses were just great, I used to clear them playing $1/$2 limit, which meant relatively soft games with fairly low variance, and the numbers meant that Party was actually giving away more in bonuses than you paid in rake.  It was awesome.

Now, things have tightened up.  At this level, it takes 57 raked hands to earn 10 Party Points, so for this promotion, you’d need to play 33,345 raked hands!

From my past experience, it takes about 5 hours four-tabling $1/$2 to play 1,000 raked hands, for which you’d pay about $55 in rake.  It’s possible, but it’s a lot of work.  In fact, it’s a full time job again, about 7 hours of solid play – that’s one-third of the 21 days you have to complete the play requirement.

For what it’s worth, the rake you’d pay is about $1800 so the $975 bonus is equivalent to a little over 50% rakeback.  Not bad at all.

The number of hands that are raked increases slightly as you move up limits, but that’s not as significant as the amount of rake you pay.  That’s why at $3/$6 you only need 14 raked hands to earn 10 Party Points.  That brings down the total number of raked hands required to 8,190 – or about 40 hours of play four-tabling.

It’s a pretty attractive bonus, but it’s also pretty inaccessible to the majority of players and I guess that’s the point.  They’re trying to deter the small-timers and serial bonus whores and get players who are prepared to commit a big chunk of time to Party Poker, then hope they stick around afterwards.

I’d love to be able to find a way to do exactly what they don’t want, but as I only have a week left before I head off to Vegas, I just can’t see it happening…