It is tempting to chase bonus programs and rakeback programs all over the net looking for ways to supplement winnings. I know it is tempting because I have chased them; deposit bonuses, rakeback programs and even propping programs. However, if you are playing ring games it is critical to understand the type of play the site you are playing.
From my experience, understanding the type of play and flow of play take 100s of hours to analyze before you gain a comfort level. That is the big problem with chasing bonuses. When I was playing very small stakes, it made sense because the bonuses were big relative to my bankroll and the players were generally very weak at low levels.
However, at higher levels the players are generally good and this means you better know how they play before you risk your stack.
Type and flow of play includes several variables that all differ greatly from one site to the next. Some of these variables are described below:
Loose/Tight Play: I generally play 6 max NL, but I still see a wide range between sites in the % of flops an average player is seeing at each site. This has large ramifications for the strength of hands that are typically going to win. If 3-4 of 6 players are seeing the flop often, then you better have a good hands (generally trips or a str8) before you want to risk all your chips on a hand. Conversely, if flops are usually heads up with 2 players, then you can be more aggressive in bluffing and/or playing top or even 2nd pair.
Preflop Aggression: How much limping is happening at the site. If every hand is raised and narrowing the field, play tighter and you can play top pair and two pair more aggressively. However, if there is a lot of limping then it is likely a "trappy" site where people are playing lots of connectors, one gappers and flush cards. Use caution playing without the nuts at these sites. Generally it is best to wait for big nut hands to win your chips at such a site.
Payoff Ratio: If you are playing at a site and you notice that you are not ever getting paid off on your really good hands, such as trips.
The site is likely full of very good players and you should probably move along. This is more likely at some of the newer smaller sites as many of the players they have are either prop players or players that have exhausted bonuses at all the other sites (aka, very good players).
Long story short - I have decided I am most comfortable at one site for ring games and I like to spend most of my time there and I am more selective about the bonus programs that I will chase.
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