Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Going for the Gold

As I’d mentioned a couple of times over the last few weeks, I found myself playing on PokerStars enough during August that I discovered I might be able to reach “Gold Star” status, something I hadn’t tried for before. Ended up staying on pace and yesterday -- the last day of August -- made it to 3,000 VIP Player Points (VPPs) and got the Gold Star.

Kind of felt like I’d achieved something, I guess. Though to be honest seeing the little “Congratulations! You have achieved the GoldStar” pop-up was a tad anticlimactic. Still, having that goal in mind during the month did add a little extra interest to the playing. And I do think my game benefited somewhat from playing a little more (and on a regular schedule).

With only a few brief excursions elsewhere, I played almost entirely six-handed pot-limit Omaha during August. I stuck to the tables with $0.10/$0.25 blinds at which the min-max buy-ins were 20-50 BB (that is, $5.00 to $12.50). I’ve played higher before (up to PLO50), but decided if I was going to put in more volume I wanted to do what I could to manage the swings to fit more comfortably within my Stars bankroll.

I still have the old PokerTracker 2 for Omaha (never did update to PT3) into which I keep entering all of my hands played. During the month I was additionally keeping track of FPPs and VPPs earned on a separate spreadsheet, mainly just to give myself an idea how many hands it would end up taking to reach Gold Star.

Ended up discovering early on that it took me about 4.7 hands or so at my favored game to earn a single VPP, which meant in the end I had to get up to a little over 14,000 hands to get the 3,000 VPPs needed for the Gold Star. I haven’t looked back at previous months, but that’s definitely more than I usually will play in a given month. At least it is more than I’ve been playing lately, anyway.

That gave me an idea of how many hands I would need on average to play each day -- around 450 -- to get to Gold Star by month’s end. By multi-tabling I was able to do that without too much fuss, although I tend to feel more at ease (and do better) when playing shorter sessions (i.e., no more than 200 hands).

Probably would’ve abandoned the idea early on had I started out the month badly, but after a so-so first week I ran well and had a decent win rate -- 9.2 big blinds per 100 hands played -- going through the first three weeks of August. Endured a few sour days right about then, but recovered over the last week to end at around 6.5 big blinds/100 hands for the month. I also managed to score a couple of those VIP Stellar Rewards bonuses along the way, too (including a $50 one), so profit-wise it ended up one of the better months I’ve had in a while.

Perusing the PokerTracker info, my “Position Stats” unsurprisingly reveal hands played from the blinds to have been my least profitable during the month. Looks like I’m probably completing from the small blind more than I should (could I really have such a high “VP$IP” -- i.e., Voluntarily Put Money In Pot -- there?). I also managed to lose money from UTG+1, the only non-blind position from which I didn’t profit. Overall, my “VP$IP” was a little above 32%.

I need further tutoring to gain from these stats, to honest, as I don’t really know what to look for. (Just one of many reasons why I’m still a recreational player, most comfortable at these low limits.) Truth be told, when I look at the stats I get distracted by various trivia. You know, like finding out how many times was I dealt A-A-x-x -- almost 2.8% of the time, it turns out. And even though aces occasionally can be very frustrating hands to play in PLO, overall they are winners. Indeed, I won 58% of those hands, earning a nifty 2.7 big blinds per hand. (Whee.)

Gold Star gets me a few things. For one, I will earn double FPPs for September (i.e., 2 FPPs for every 1 VPP). I’ll also have access to the “GoldStar VIP Store,” which theoretically means I can now purchase a few things with my FPPs that I couldn’t before, including some of the electronics (a Blu-Ray disc player, a Nintendo Wii, a Netbook, etc.). I say “theoretically” because unfortunately I am starting the month with only about 6,000 FPPs, not enough to buy any of those items yet. I could also now buy my way into a few of the bigger tourneys, had I the FPPs to do so, but again I’m a little short for that.

The Daily/Weekly VIP tourneys are open to everyone, anyway, so getting Gold Star matters little with those. However, I do get a free entry into a $100,000 tourney at the end of the month (as Silver Star, I would’ve had to win a FPP satellite first to play that one). There’s also a $1,000,000 quarterly VIP tourney which Gold Stars get to play, but unfortunately for me that doesn’t come up again until November, so I’d have to make Gold Star during October to play.

Gold StarI suppose in practical terms all I’ll really do with my fancy new Gold Star is try to earn some extra FPPs this month, planning (probably) to cash them in at some point down the road.

And when it comes to playing, probably try to focus a little more on quality than quantity.

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