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PokerStars, Plans, and Presto

After looking over the terms of the 2X WCOOP bonus at PokerStars, I decided to make my $600 deposit and start working off the bonus.

At 20 base FPPs per $1 of bonus, the bonus clearance rate works out to $6 - $7 an hour given my volume and stakes. I was clearing roughly the same amount in rakeback at Full Tilt. By the time I finish this bonus, I should also be quite close to obtaining a $250 gift certificate that will allow me to pick up a portable media player for next to nothing!

I played at PokerStars for about an hour and a half last night. I started my session using Poker Tracker 3 but quickly switched back to my trusty Poker Tracker 2. I'm really not digging the HUD for Poker Tracker 3. I can't figure out how to position the stats according to my personal preferences. Am I missing something here? Luckily, I didn't lose any money while juggling three tables and playing around with PT3.

I played close to 400 hands at the tables and cleared 160 base FPPs. Most importantly, the games were very good! There were quite a few weak players sitting in at my tables. I made a few bucks and have a number of hands that I'll be able to put up for discussion.

As for my current FPP totals and Stars VIP status, I've got about 8000 FPPs stored away and I'm a mere 550 FPPs from hitting Silver Star VIP status. If I can put in another 3-4 good sessions, I'll be a Silver Star VIP and start earning FPPs at a 50% increased rate. While these bonus FPPs don't count towards clearing my bonus, the extra FPPs will go a long way to earning the gift certificate. If my calculations are correct, I'll have about 14000 FPPs by the time I clear the $240 bonus leaving only 3500 more FPPs to earn.

But bonuses and gift certificates are secondary to playing good poker. Based on the number of FPPs that I cleared last night, it should take me another 43.5 hours (or 130.5 total table hours) to clear all 4800 FPPs required to clear $240 bonus dollars. Even if I clear a modest 80 hands per table hour, I'm looking at playing a total of roughly 10,500 hands. That's a whole lot of poker experience for a guy who's barely played 40,000 hands of poker! And from a BB point of view, clearing the bonus equates to an extra 2 BB/100 added to my winrate over the course of the bonus period!

If I average 8 BB/100 while clearing the bonus and throw in the extra 2 BB/100 from the bonus, I can give my bankroll a solid boost of 1050 BB. That's a good amount if I can pull it off. In fact, I'd be pretty close to trying my hand at the $200 NLHE games once again.

To sum things up:

  • PokerStars' 2X WCOOP bonus $240 bonus requires 4800 base FPPs to clear.
  • It will take me an additional 130.5 table hours to clear the remaining 4640 base FPPs to clear the bonus.
  • 130.5 table hours equates to roughly 10.5K hands of poker.
  • A winrate of 8 BB/100 coupled with the overlay of the bonus should see my bankroll increase by 1050 BB. Of course, short-term variance can be a real bitch sometimes.
  • After clearing the bonus, I'll be a mere 3500 FPPs away from picking up a $250 gift certificate for Future Shop.
  • A $250 gift certificate will allow me to pick up a portable media player.
  • A portable media player will allow me to watch poker training videos during my commute to and from work.
  • Poker training videos and a bigger bankroll will allow me to try the $200 NLHE tables again.
Those eight bullet points cover my plan of attack for the next couple months of poker. I just hope that the games at PokerStars and Lady Luck treat me right.

I started out clearing my bonus last night on a high note. After months of flopping air with my pocket pairs and not getting paid off by various Villains, I finally had a bit of luck. I don't have time to go over all my hands but I'll leave you with the following hand that exemplifies last night's games.

Poker Stars
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
5 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $71.15
Hero (CO): $100
Button: $203.05
SB: $53.95
BB: $151.45

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is CO with 5♣ 5♠
Villain calls, Hero calls, 2 folds, 2 folds, BB checks.

(No real read on Villain. He was a little tight but I was focusing a little too much on getting Poker Tracker 3 working just right.)

Flop: Q♣ 5♦ 3♦ ($3.5, 3 players)
BB checks, Villain checks, Hero bets $3, BB folds, Villain calls.

(Multiway pot and a draw on the board meant that I was willing to bet my set. Honestly, I very rarely slowplay - probably a weak point in my game. When Villain calls, I put him on a hand like AQ, KQ, a smaller pocket pair, or suited connectors; his pre-flop limp told me nothing nor did his call on the flop.)

Turn: K♥ ($9.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $7, Villain calls.

(Even though the Villain hadn't shown any strength, I had to bet the turn. Although I wanted to charge draws, the main purpose of my bet was to increase the pot size. A bigger pot on the river allows me to make a larger value bet without seeming out of line.)

River: 8♠ ($23.5, 2 players)
Villain bets $15, Hero raises all-in $89, Villain calls all-in $45.15.
Uncalled bets: $28.85 returned to Hero.

(I didn't think that there was any way for the Villain to have either KK or QQ for set over set on the river. A smallish river bet following a show of weakness on all streets screamed one pair or a pocket pair like JJ or TT. Raising the Villain's bet was pointless given the size of the pot so the all-in push was the right move in my opinion. I wasn't going to let the Villain walk away with any of his stack remaining. I figured that I'd get a call from the Villain given what little read I had on him. I was getting the "I'm not going to let you bluff me off the pot with your mid-pocket pair vibe" from him.

I made the right choice because the Villain insta-called the push.)

Final pot: $143.8
Hero showed 5c 5s
Villain mucks As Ad

The Villain made the mistake of betting a moderate hand on the river. His overpair was better suited as a bluff catcher in this spot given the betting. If I'd missed my draw or if I'd been overplaying a weaker hand, why not let me bluff at the river instead of leading out? By leading out with an overpair on the river after being shown strength on the flop and the turn, the Villain loses value from those hands that he's beating while putting his stack at risk to an all-in re-raise from a legitimately strong hand.

Don't get me wrong: I won a big pot because I hit my set against a guy who slowplayed rockets and waited until the river to spring his "trap". What I like about my play in the hand - and this is obvious to most people reading right now - is that I bet the flop and turn in order to build the pot. If I'd tried to slowplay, there's a good chance that the Villain could have gotten away without losing quite so much money. There aren't many players who'd stack off in a small pot on the river with only an overpair.

I'll be at PokerStars again tonight. In fact, I'll likely play at PokerStars on most nights for the next two or three months. But don't worry Full Tilt: I'll be back!

Don't forget that you can sign-up to play at PokerStars and earn extra FPPs as rakeback! Just click here to sign up for a rakeback account with RakeTheRake.

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