I made the decision yesterday to try to achieve SuperNova Elite status on PokerStars in 2009. It was a difficult decision because I have a 100% rakeback deal with Ultimate Bet and will forgo a significant amount of money, at least initially, by playing primarily at PokerStars. I'm currently at Supernova status on PokerStars which carries over to 2009 and equates to about 35% in rakeback. Once I hit SuperNova elite, assuming I do, I'd be earning 65% or more in rakeback.
A summary of the benefits can be found here: SNE benefits
And some of the merchandise that can be purchased with VPP's (points earned from playing hands) is here: SNE Merchandise
So, why try to attain something that less than 100 people out of 1.5 million have attained in the past 2 years?
The biggest reason is I'm very confident I can do it. As an experiment last week I decided to try to play what I thought would be a typical day for me in 2009, a 3 hour session in the morning and a 3 hour session in the afternoon. I played 5-6 tables of 10-20 and 15-30 and after 5 hours had played 2,395 hands and earned 3006 VPPS. (1 million VPPS are necessary to reach SNE status). I was really surprised that it "only" took 5 hours to reach the approximate number of VPP's I'd need to average on a daily basis through 2009. Since I plan on playing at least 6 hours per day, I don't think averaging ~3000 VPPs per day will be exceedingly difficult. Of course there will be days that I won't play at all or can't play but there should be a surplus from the days I do play that more than compensates for the off days.
The second reason is that the skill level difference between the sites at the limits I'm playing is very significant. Now that Ultimate Bet has merged with Absolute and formed Cereus, the games are very difficult. In fact, as difficult as I've seen them. There are several hosts playing middle to high limits that have been around for years and are formidable to say the least. From my experience playing on PokerStars this past year, the games are significantly easier and this should be a big contributing factor to my bottom line at the end of the year. It's hard to quantify how the skill level disparity at PokerStars impacts my win rate but a rough estimate based on past results would be about 1/2 of 1 big bet per 100 hands. At $10-20 this would be equivalent to $10 per 100 hands which is equivalent to about 35% in what I pay in rake. This incidentally is what I'd forgo by switching to PokerStars assuming I make SNE.
The third reason is that hosting on Ultimate Bet has become very monotonous for me. I play my ~10,000 hands a week, collect my check, and repeat the process next week. It has been this way for years now. The money is great of course but I'm bored. At least by pursuing SNE, I have a clear goal in mind and a challenge. Assuming I achieve SNE and assuming my calculations are correct, I will actually end up making more money at the end of the year. This will be largely due to the fact that I will be "forced" to play so many more hands ~17K compared to the ~10K I'm averaging now.
The fourth reason is that my time will be spent much more efficiently on PokerStars. On Ultimate Bet I'm often sitting on tables waiting for games sometimes for over an hour. This is in part due to the rules I must abide by as a host and in part due to the site being slow at times. On PokerStars I can get in as many games as I can handle in a matter of minutes or even seconds due to their high traffic.
The last reason is that it will be nice to get free entries to tournaments around the world, especially the Monte Carlo and Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. Yes, I could buy-in to them now with the money I earn in rakeback but it's just not the same for me. It's so much easier to accept the entry as a reward for doing something than it is to actually take ten or fifteen thousand dollars out of my pocket and pay for the entry. It is essentially the same thing since I am technically paying for these entries (it's included as part of my rakeback calculations) but it sure wouldn't feel that way. I also enjoy playing tournaments and have had a lot of success in them so there could potentially be a big payday at some point in the future (with a little luck, ok a lot of luck).
I will be attempting to keep my host position through all this which requires me to play at least 1000 hands per week at 30-60 or higher. My intention is to play these hands at night or on weekends when there are more games going at these limits and when the games are also easier.
It's going to be quite a challenge. When less than 100 people out of 1.5 million have done it in the past two years combined, that's saying something. I think I'm up for it.
I've already started preparing for what's ahead. More on that in my next blog.