As a pro, consider poker promotions carefully



As a professional player, it’s important to maximize your value in every session. Generally, poker rooms these days will take a promotional rake on each pot, usually between
$1-$3 in the smaller games.

As you move up in stakes, this will no longer be a concern, but until then, it’s important to limit your exposure to this extra rake as much as possible.

PLAY WHEN THE GREATEST PORTION IS GIVEN OUT: Most casinos are under regulation to give out 100 percent of the money they take in from these promotional funds. Our goal needs to be minimizing exposure to that extra rake by playing in each room at the best possible time.

The jackpot fund is taken out of the pots regardless if a promotion is being offered. So if you play at the same casino every day, you’re contributing to that fund during all hours, not maximizing your return. Let other people build the funds while you’re taking advantage of them elsewhere.

Example: Casino A only gives out high hands on Saturdays, no other time. Casino B only has a bad-beat jackpot. Casino C gives out high hands on Sunday and Monday and has a bad-beat jackpot otherwise. You would want to go to Casino A on Saturday, Casino C on Sunday-Monday and Casino B any other day. If you only play at Casino A, you’re missing out on rake being paid by other players at other casinos that is being given away.

CHOOSE PROMOTIONS THAT ATTRACT NOVICES: As a pro, you need to decide which promotions are going to help your hourly rate the most.

A promotion that any player who plays 50 hours in a week wins an Ante Up Poker Cruise package will draw stronger overall players than a promotion that gives an Ante Up cruise away for high hands.
Recreational players don’t see a 50-hour week as an attainable goal, but seasoned players will.

Also consider the prize being given. A chance to win a World Series of Poker Main Event seat will attract novices and pros, while a chance to win $10K worth of coaching from Olivier Busquet likely will attract more seasoned players.

It won’t always be so obvious which promotion to chose, so in that case make sure to break the tie with the room you enjoy playing in the most, a clear head and enjoyable atmosphere beats the $2 per hour in EV you might give up.

— Brent Philbin is a poker pro who lives in South Florida. You can reach him at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine