Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Poker Happy Hour Hunting?

After completing an article about PokerStars ‘VIP Month’ for one of my smaller sites, I have started wondering whether there are enough ‘happy hours’ around to make deliberately targeting these a good strategy?

A lot of sites have these hours, where you can earn double or 1.5x points, usually at the cash game tables. My question is whether the extra benefits from these points make it worthwhile changing up your schedule to play more during the designated times??

First A Quick Overview – Which Poker Sites Have Happy Hours?

Full Tilt: Happy hours have been a feature here for a long time. These are frequent, and are now complimented by a ‘game of the week’ where you can earn double points throughout the week by playing a particular (usually quirky) poker variation.

PokerStars: Just 3 hours designated for their new August Promo, you can earn 1.5x points during these slots in both tournaments and cash games. The rewards for hitting ‘SilverStars’ or above are pretty good, with entries to cash tournaments and WCOOP ticket give-aways on offer. Details of the current VIP Club month on their homepage.

Titan Poker: Encouragement to play at the weekends at the biggest iPoker2 site this month – with their ‘Power Hours’ giving you 1.5x points.

Carbon: You’ll need to opt-in to this promo at the US friendly Carbon, where 1.5x points are available 5 hours a day, between 10am and 3PM server time. Daily cashback and generous rewards mean that these points have value.

There are probably some more out there, that’s enough to give you a flavor though.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Playing During Happy Hours?

Now, the sites are encouraging you to play during happy hour – so the question has to be ‘what is in it for them?’

This looks like a way of encouraging action during lulls in their usual traffic, daytimes in particular. Nothing wrong with doing that, especially if they can get people to play additional sessions.

My view is that we need to compare the extra money earned with the type of opponents we are likely to face at the tables before deciding whether it is worth switching around our schedule to target these games.

Rewards: VIP rewards do add up, though these are rarely the key reason for playing. Even if you were to grind enough tables to earn yourself $5 per hour from loyalty programs (thats on the high side for most of us!) – the extra for these promos would only be $2.50c. There could be other benefits, you could move up a level compared to your old routine, and get tournament entries or earn points faster in future. You might also be trying to target something from the loyalty points store and earn points faster to get there.

The Costs: The kind of person who actively grinds happy hours is more likely to be experienced. The average daytime crowd will generally include more grinders, lets face it the recreational players usually have to go to work during the day! If you were to change your schedule around the question would be whether the extra rewards balanced the fact that you would be playing better players?

Note that I did not say ‘winning players’, there are plenty of grinders who are break-even at best and others who are losing money over time… The truth is that without a good number of novices and fun players there is less easy profit to go around. I even wrote an article looking at the math (based on Sit N Goes, though the same theory holds for all formats).

A Caveat – Evening Happy Hours

That’s the day-time dealt with, my recommendation is that you only target those tables if you are playing during the daytime anyway… Evenings are a different beast altogether. Instead of tables full of small stakes grinders building up their bonus money, you have a wide range of the good, the bad and the ugly!

FullTilt are normally the place to head, with their happy hours giving double or even treble points throughout the day and ‘game of the week’ tables on top. You’ll get weekly cash rewards and can also use the points for tournament tokens or ring game tickets. Full Tilt are undergoing a huge transformation since PokerStars took over – you can check them out here.

During August 2013 I would recommend playing at least enough to get 500 points at PokerStars, this will get you to SilverStar and unlock a nice bunch of tournament tokens for the first week in September.

GL at the happy hour tables!


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