By James Spillane, Rakeback.com Staff Writer
It's often said that Party Poker's games are amongst some the softest of the major poker rooms. At the time of writing, Party is roughly tied for the second largest network alongside iPoker (both of which are dwarfed by PokerStars) and historically has always been featured in the top five.
The site itself states on it's homepage that 'an independent poll of poker players shows it's easier to win money at PartyPoker.com than at any other online poker room'. A 2010 PTR database analysis concluded that the percentage of table seats occupied by proven winners was the lowest of any network. Many posts on the 2+2 Poker Forums seem to agree with these sentiments.
Our resident Rakeback.com Party Poker grinders analyzed the NL lobby at peak times (approximately 12:00 - 18:00 ET, i.e. European evening-time), using the free & legal program TableScan Turbo. The top half of this image shows the result:
Between 50NL and 600NL, 200 tables were running, of which 10 featured at least 2 fish. For this scan we used the definition of 'fish' as any known player playing 45VPIP or greater. Our database of hands recognized 80% of NL players as 'known' over a sample of at least 50 hands.
As also shown above, a scan of the LHE lobby, between stakes .25/.50 - 3/6, reported 227 players across 43 tables, 17 of which had 2 or more fish playing. Each of these players were >45VPIP and <16PFR, for 6max tables, and >27VPIP and <12PFR, for full-ring, all clear loose-passive tendencies.
With Full Tilt closed at the time of writing, currently only on PokerStars and Party Poker can you find considerable Limit Hold'em traffic (the iPoker and Merge tables tend to be very sparse). Of the two, Party undoubtedly has the softest games, with recreational players being seen across all stakes and games, plus only a handful of strong regs, low or non-existent waitlists, and even a small amount of worthwhile heads-up traffic.
A good place for up-to-date info from Party regulars, including the author, is the Official Party Poker Thread on the 2+2 forums. Posters have reported that the PLO games are 'a lot busier' since Party's switch to a weighted-contributed rake structure in August 2011.
With the 'mass-tabling professional short-stackers' leaving (as their style is dependent on a dealt rake system), and 'more fish' around, players that table select can do well in those games.
Sit & Go tournaments on Party Poker famously had prohibitively high rake at all low buy-in levels for years. This has been addressed recently, but SNG fees are still very high. Combine that with low-traffic, blatant collusion scandals going undetected by support, and a decent number of regs around, SNG players sadly have a hard time on Party.
It's also difficult to mass-table SNGs with Party's software despite the availability of free AHK scripts like PartySNGHelper and third party programs such as PartyEZCash. The lobby is muddled, the software lags, and it's not straightforward to control how and where tables open, auto waitlist by default, etc. By contrast, 30+ tabling on Stars can feel like a breeze.
Ironically Party caps SNG fees at $11, so technically high-stakes games could have a very low vig. However, this is bittersweet as games at a high enough buy-in level to benefit from this almost never run.
Multi-table tournaments are by all accounts pretty soft on Party Poker, with weak fields even in $109 buy-in events and $215 Sunday majors. Final table deal making is available.
Party Poker has commented that they're keen to focus on tournament-based promotions to improve the games further, including running their own PokerFest online series and several rake-free MTT months. Even cash-game oriented monthly promotions regularly include easy-to-earn entries into several freerolls as prizes, with guarantees of up to $100k. Lots of recreational players jump into all kinds of tournaments as a result.
Live satellites to the WPT, EPT, GSOP, and a host of other worldwide tournament stops are running virtually all the time.
The fun, colorful default layout of the Party Poker tables, flashy monthly promotions and global marketing machine of Party Poker certainly bring in a large concentration of fish to the games.
Slow, buggy software, a lower multi-tabling limit (max. 18 tables as opposed to PokerStars' 24), and the lesser rewards for the highest volume grinders (50% rakeback before promotions for Palladium Elite VIPs compared to ~60% rakeback for Supernova Elite players on PokerStars) are also some one the reasons in keeping strong regs away.
Sadly, Party has a much worse rake structure than PokerStars. Inevitably high-rake rooms have a better fish to reg ratio, but the rake can negate some of the value. It will also turn slightly-winning regs into break-even or worse players, which may explain the results of the aforementioned PTR site analysis.
High rake can also lead to rampant 'bumhunting', with regs sitting out or tables breaking the instant that a fish busts, and TAG players not wanting to compete against each other in a high-rake environment. As with any site nowadays, the below kind of sit-out fest can sadly be a common site:
We recommend taking full advantage of the tips and software mentioned here on Rakeback.com to ensure you're making the most of the juicy games and not losing too much of your edge to rake.
Sign up for a Party Poker account today using the bonus code RAKEBACKCOM to receive a 100% sign-up bonus of up to $500 and a rakeback equivalent of up to 50%.
Update - at the end of March 2013 Party sadly removed the Palladium Elite tier, capping rewards at 30% before promotions, which also lowered in value.
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