Player Points Compared
Some online poker rooms credit players with VIP points for being active participants in games at their sites. These points are often redeemable for poker books, entries into freeroll tournaments, popular electronics, and much more. This article will examine the value of the points, as well as the importance of seeking economically sound ways to spend the points for the two most popular online poker rooms, Party Poker and PokerStars.
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Party Poker awards their players' frequent play by giving them "PartyPoints". These points are redeemable in their Player's Club Store for items such as sunglasses, laptop computers, and golf clubs. Party Poker has the best point store of any online poker room due to the sheer volume and diversity of items available for purchase.
"PartyPoints" are awarded for every 20 raked hands played in a cash game. The specific amount of points awarded is dependent on what stakes are being played. For example, 20 hands of $1/$2 limit will net a player 4 PartyPoints while 20 hands of $100/$200 limit earns a player 28 PartyPoints. Tournament players are also awarded points based on the amount of entry fee paid. Sit'n'go tournaments result in earning roughly twice as many points as a scheduled multi-table tournament of equivalent buy-in.
PokerStars is home to the popular VIP Club where players may exchange their Frequent Player Points (FPPs) for prizes. The FPP Store on PokerStars lacks the amount of cool merchandise that Party Poker offers to its players. However, what PokerStars lacks in merchandise they make up for with WSOP packages and freeroll tournaments available for purchase with FPPs.
The means by which PokerStars awards players FPPs is a little more complicated than Party Poker's system. Rather than a system which awards points solely based on number of hands played, PokerStars requires that each pot reach a certain rake level before any FPPs are awarded. In order to win 1 FPP for playing in any NL or PL game, or any FL game with stakes of $2/$4 (or higher), the rake must reach at least $1.00. Five FPPs are awarded for each $1 in tournament fees paid. For example, a $50+$5 tournament earns a player 25 FPPs ($5x5).
It is important to note that low-stakes no-limit games are a bad place to earn FPPs at PokerStars. Rarely do pots generate $1.00 (or more) in rake in a small stakes no limit game. In fact, generally speaking, no-limit games are a bad place to earn FPPs on PokerStars simply due to the fact that no-limit games see a flop far less often than most fixed-limit games. Online poker rooms do not take a rake from any pot that does not see a flop.
Both Party Poker and PokerStars have some similar items available for purchase through each of their stores. Examining the number of points needed to purchase these items are where we can get an idea for how valuable each point is. For example, there are three books, all authored by David Skalansky, available for purchase on each site's points store. All three books cost the same; either 2,000 FPPs or 6,000 PartyPoints. This implies that each FPP is 3 times more valuable than a PartyPoint.
This 3:1 ratio in value holds true throughout most of the various ways one can spend their points on each site. PokerStars has set up their FPPs in a way that makes them each worth $0.016 (read: one point six cents). This is evident through the amount of FPPs needed to buy-in directly to their $215, $530, or $1050 million dollar guaranteed tournaments. Likewise, each PartyPoint works out to be worth roughly $0.0055 (read fifty-five hundredths of a cent). This figure is established by doing some math regarding Party Poker's daily Player's Club freerolls. A recent "Party For Free $100,000 Freeroll" tournament, which features a 20,000 PartyPoint buy-in, had 883 entrants. Each player in this tournament was getting a value of about $0.0056 per PartyPoint they had to spend to enter this freeroll. The value of each point in most of the other PartyPoint freerolls works out to be relatively close to this figure.
Sometimes certain items in each site's points store provide a better value for points than most of the other items. For example, the best way to currently spend one's FPPs at PokerStars is to use them to buy into WSOP qualifiers. Four times per week a 1,000 FPP buy-in WSOP qualifier is spread on PokerStars that features a winner-take-all prize pool for a $12,000 Main Event package. These tournaments have been averaging around 300 entrants, making the value of each seat in the tournament $40. This yields four cents per FPP, which is more than double their intended value compared to other items that can be purchased at the FPP store. This is just one example that emphasizes the importance of shopping around in order to find good value when choosing how to spend points earned at an online poker room.
Still, another variable needs to be considered in this analysis is the rate at which a player could expect to obtain points on each site. In a $3/$6 limit hold'em game on Party Poker, 12 PartyPoints are awarded for every 20 hands one is dealt. We have already learned that in order to earn 1 FPP in a $3/$6 limit hold'em game on PokerStars, at least $1.00 in rake needs to be generated on the hand. Anytime a $3/$6 pot reaches $20, $1.00 is raked from the pot. It could be estimated that roughly 60% (or 12 in every 20 hands) of the pots in a $3/$6 game on PokerStars will eclipse the $20 mark needed to force a rake of $1.00. So in this case, PartyPoints are earned at the same rate as FPPs on PokerStars, though PartyPoints have only a third of the value.
However, there are additional means by which PartyPoints can be earned. In an effort to bring new players to the site, and to keep these players depositing money, Party Poker awards a slew of PartyPoints for reasons not based on playing volume. Each friend referred through Party Poker's Tell-A-Friend program nets the referee 1,000 PartyPoints. Players at PartyPoker also earn PartyPoints by making deposits. Crediting $100-$249 to one's account earns them 100 PartyPoints. This goes all the way up to 1,000 PartyPoints earned for depositing $500 or more.
It should be noted that PokerStars is significantly better than Party Poker with regard to awarding points for tournaments. PokerStars gives users 5 FPPs for every $1 paid in tournament entry fees. For example, a $10+$1 multi-table tournament on PokerStars awards each participant with 5 FPPs. A $10+$1 multi-table tournament on Party Poker only awards 1 PartyPoint to each player. This 5:1 disparity holds pretty accurate when comparing the points awarded for multi-table tournaments between the two sites. However, Party Poker does close the gap with their structure for awarding PartyPoints to sit'n'go players. A $10+$1 sit'n'go on Party Poker nets users 3 PartyPoints. In general, users earn triple the amount of PartyPoints from sit'n'go tournaments than they do for scheduled tournaments of the same buy-in.