Playing During IGM/Party Bonuses

In the recent weeks, one of the IGM/Party skins offered a reload bonus which required over a thousand raked hands to maximize. I noticed some complaining about the tightness of the games during these periods, and put some thought into figuring out how to deal with ultra-tight play at the $0.50/$1 level.

One solution was obvious: don’t play there. I experimented with play at the $1/2 level and found that even with tight players, hands below $5 (the minimum for a rake) were quite rare. Also, the tightness I saw first-hand hadn’t seemed to spill over to the $1/2 level. What I mean by that is that I never sat at a $1/2 table with four players with VP$IP of <18%, which happened a lot to me at the lowest limit. Table VP$IP (voluntarily put $ in pot) at 30% wasn’t difficult to find.

Ok the first solution is a bit of a cop-out. Some people just don’t have the online bank-roll to comfortably play at $1/2. I first examined how I was locating tables to play at. IGM/Party skins lack Pokerroom’s running % of players seeing the flop, so you have to join a table before you can judge how loose it is. The only number that is provided is the average pot size, so I sort that in descending order and join the waiting list for the top four table. The problem is, I think every other tight player is doing that to. Take a big money table, join the list of 8 people who want to play there, and you’re likely to get a much different table when you actually get to join. So I stopped doing that.

I had to drop back and punt. I joined the general waiting list for any table with at least eight players. That generally meant that there was no waiting list (or else there would have been nine players). I got tables quicker, but had very little read on the players when I sat down. That’s fine, as there were unlikely to be the rocks I was facing at the 10-person waiting list tables. And if they were, I didn’t have to wait an hour to join before discovering that.

My results: Improved looseness of the tables I joined. Only once did I join a table with less than 20% table VP$IP. My other games were good enough that I felt comfortable dropping it and sitting at another. I ended up at a better table. So then I tried both: I joined the “first available” waiting list at $1/2, and found slightly looser games than I was experiencing when waiting for the top money tables.

My conclusion: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when reloads make play very tight at the lowest levels. There are still good games out there. Just be willing to do some work to find them.

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