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Drinking the Kool-Aid

When I first dipped my toe into the shark-infested waters of online poker, Tiger Gaming was the first site to drink deep from the rake I generated at the tables. A few months later, PokerSourceOnline and Party Poker courted me with promises of a $100 instant bankroll. I left Tiger's $0.10/$0.20 limit games and started playing in Party's $0.50/$1 limit games.

Over the course of the next two years, I jumped from site to site. I was looking for the best bonuses and the best rakeback deals. I eventually settled on InterPoker as my site of choice. I loved the site, I loved the games, and I loved the bonus + rakeback boost to my bankroll every month.

When the UIGEA came into effect, I wasn't sure what would happen to online poker. At first, the games at InterPoker remained plentiful and profitable. But then Neteller pulled out of the Canadian market and InterPoker's traffic nose-dived. Afraid that online poker was dead, I put down my mouse and stepped away from the virtual felt for a few months.

Last July, I started playing poker again after a few innocent poker comments made by a friend. After looking at all the online poker rooms still in action, I settled on Titan Poker due to the solid rakeback deal that I had via RakeTheRake. And it wasn't until I made the move to $100 NL that I started to question my decision to play on the iPoker network.

Over the past few weeks, I've come to a startling revelation: sites with more traffic offer better games! As much as I wanted to stick with Titan Poker, I found that the game availability at the $100 NL level started to drop off at around 8 PM at night. And by 11 o'clock at night, game selection took a backseat to simply finding a table that wasn't constantly breaking up.

Imagine my joy when I returned to PokerStars a few weeks ago to clear my $125 WCOOP2007 bonus. I logged in one evening at 11 o'clock and found countless $0.50/$1 NLHE running! I had my pick of the litter. I could play only turbo tables if I wanted. I could play full-ring and 6-max no-limit hold'em. And I was never forced to get up due to my tables constantly breaking up! It was awesome! After two short weeks of somewhat-careful game selection, I was able to play at PokerStars $1/$2 NLHE tables.

When I finished off my bonus at PokerStars over the weekend, I was left wondering where to play next. PokerStars has great games but very little extra incentive to keep me at the tables. I've got my SilverStar VIP membership locked up for the month but I don't get much out of that deal. I don't play tournaments so I don't benefit from the freerolls and FPP tournaments available. However, my wife has since encouraged me to stay at Stars because I seemed to be enjoying the games there. I love poker when I'm winning and I've really loved my time at Stars!

I wonder if there's a site that has great traffic at all hours of the day and still affords RakeTheRake members a chance at a little rakeback. Wait a second! What about Full Tilt Poker? Sounds like a fit to me! And though I've had very little luck at Full Tilt in the past, I come better prepared this time around. No more sit-n-gos. No more 6-max limit games! No more four-tabling the $3/$6 games either! It's all about the no-limit hold'em cash games now. And who knows, maybe I'll check out this Ironman thing while I'm at it. I don't know all the details but I believe there's some sort of money to be made by achieving Ironman status at Full Tilt.

I'll be focusing the bulk of my play at Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. Both sites have great games, great traffic, and nice little perks in terms of rakeback (Full Tilt) and purchasable bonuses (PokerStars). Most importantly, I hope to continue to improve my NLHE game and move up to the $2/$4 tables at beyond.

An interesting hitch in my "plan" developed yesterday. Party Poker decided to give me withdrawal-restricted $175 to play with in their poker room. I ran that up to a nice little number and withdrew everything above and beyond the original $175 of bonus money. I'll probably continue to hit and run Party Poker until I lose the entire $175 or until the bonus expires in two weeks time.

At first, I thought that Party Poker wouldn't like my little hit and runs. But I realized that I'm actually making Party money every time I sit down at their tables. For example, let's take a look at the three hours that I played at Party Poker yesterday. After three hours of play, I'd earned a profit at the poker tables. More importantly, I'm nowhere near clearing the $175 bonus and I paid $30 in rake. Even if I managed to put in 3 hours a day at Party Poker every day for the next two weeks, I still wouldn't come close to clearing the bonus. But I'll continue to play. And I'll continue to win money off other players and feed it back to Party as rake. It all boils down to this:

  • Party Poker lent me $175
  • I'll play poker at Party every day until the bonus expires or I lose the bonus at the tables.
  • I'll be sure to withdraw my profits at the end of the day whenever possible
  • I'll most likely pay a ton of rake in that time.
  • And in the end, Party will reclaim their $175 when I fail to meet the clearing requirements.
This definitely sounds like a win-win situation for both Party Poker and myself!

To summarize this post:
  • I'm ready to drink the Kool-Aid. I'll finally admit that the popular, high-traffic online poker rooms are well-worth my time.
  • PokerStars is f*cking fantastic!
  • Full Tilt should be pretty awesome too!
  • Party Poker has staked me to play their $1/$2 NLHE games (via a $175 withdrawal-restricted bonus) for a two-week period.
  • Poker is good.
  • Sign up with RakeTheRake (referral id RTR03302) and sign up for rakeback at Full Tilt Poker!
I have a session review to post though I doubt it'll get posted today. I also have a couple hands worthy of my Hall of Shame: I still can't believe how poorly I can play at times. All that and more to come in the next few days!

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