I've basically been playing exclusively (99%) on Stars for the past 4 years.
A few of the 'positives':
- Traffic - no one comes anywhere close.
- VIP program - Pretty much the best VIP program out there when you consider the % you get if you are able to maintain Supernova+ combined with one of the lowest rakes* in the industry (this might be the result of a problem rather than a positive feature). Generally speaking if you can put in 60+ hours a month mass tabling, you're going to get 40%+ effective rakeback. And there's a few other ways to maximize your FPPs further through satellites as well if you're into that sort of thing.
- Software - So far it's the only software I've been able to look at that doesn't make me want to smash my monitor. Constant player-specific positive improvements as well, although again this might might be leading to a problem. I didn't mind FTP since it was pretty easy to multi-table but it still seemed kind of clunky. Every other sites' software that I've tried is complete shit.
- Full disclosure: I am part of the problem, sort of.
- A ton of the cash game traffic is due to mass tabling grinders.
- imo part of the reason the rake is so low is because there's so many nitty mass tabling grinders not seeing flops.
- Kudos to Stars for being extremely effective and efficient at upgrading their software according to the wishes and requests of the mass tabling community. They've used a ton of my and others ideas in the official software thread recently and it's easier than ever to play tons of tables.
- All of the above inevitably leads to the site being a magnet for mass tabling grinders like myself.'
- The vast majority of these players are either Russian/Chinese 40bb 11/9's with 20% 3bet making a good living for where they live off of FPPs, or 12/10 fullstacked regs who you aren't really going to win a ton of money off of, relatively speaking. There's a few of the laggier 19/15 regs out there like myself that I really enjoy playing with from a learning perspective but there's really not that many.
Simple fish:shark ratio experiment:
- 100 player pool 12 tables, 90% fish, 10% sharks
- 90 fish seats, 120 shark seats = 1 : 1.33
- 100 player pool 24 tables, 90% fish, 10% sharks
- 90 fish seats, 240 shark seats = 1 : 2.66
- 100 player pool 24 tables after successful marketing campaign where you bring in 33% more fish
- 120 fish seats, 240 shark seats = 1 : 2.00
People always said FTP was softer and I'm a firm believer that it wasn't because they were actively doing anything to attract fish. It was simply that they had a 12 table limit with 16 table limit available by request. As you can see, the number of tables you allow regs to play has a way bigger affect on the fishiness of the games than how many fish you actually have. And doubly so, the higher percentage of regs to fish you have in the pool in the first place -- this becomes grossly magnified at a 75/25 split. That's why everyone says the Euro sites are super soft despite the lot of them combined not having 25% of the advertising dollars that Stars has.
Essentially, Stars' games are getting tough. Really tough. And from the looks of the small and midstakes lobby, full ring is dying too. Yeah yeah, people have been saying that for years. But it's become increasingly and obviously so when you have midstakes players dropping to smallstakes and smallstakes dropping to microstakes and it makes me a little bit sick having to deal with and think about proper 3bet polarized vs wide value ranges and appropriate 4bet range responses at 25NL and 50NL. We need a poker boom infusion. Soon.
My best alternative is Party Poker, but based on my current rake/month assuming I could come anywhere close with their software and traffic, I'd only be making 20% rakeback there. So as of now I remain a slave to the Stars VIP machine. I really really want to become one of those 6 tabling phenoms that doesn't care about rakeback and learns quick and moves up and logically it makes a ton of sense but there's just something in me that can not stand sitting there waiting for people taking 3 seconds to decide call or fold preflop and I inevitably go back to mass tabling.
So it's a choice between whether poker should be a passion or a means to an end...
[to be continued]