Donkin's Blog

The promo downswing

Most poker players know of the withdraw doom switch, in which a downswing occurs immediately after withdrawing from the site.

For me, it’s the promo doom switch.

I tend to have my best months when I’m not playing for any kind of bonus. In the months the poker site is offering tons of rakeback via different promotions (read 55% rakeback), I tend to not do as well.

My base cashback is 20%. I receive that because of my elite status regardless.

Any time I’m working on a bonus such as the $1000 WSOP reload bonus, my rakeback is 40% due to the release rate of 20%.

Clearing bonuses

Releasing bonuses for play on

Often, there is a very good reason to clear a bonus quickly.

#1 Because the bonus expires in 60 days. WSOP has quick expiring bonuses.

#2 Some promotions will only be granted if the player is not already working on a bonus. They don’t want to double you up. I try to be bonus free by the end of the month.

In some months, like June, I was earning an additional 15% rakeback on top due to the WSOP tricks of the trade promo from earlier in the year. This gave me a ton of incentive to play long hours.

The following month of July, I had no promotion, and no bonus and I earned 3x as much as June.


Poker is a skill game

It’s very simple. The better you play, the more you will make. While promos add to your bottom line, they don’t add as much as playing well.

The two skills that suffer the most when playing extra due to promos:

#1 Table Selection

#2 Mental fortitude

Table Selection

When I’m not clearing a bonus, I tend to only play when games are good and only tables where there are some fish.

Quite often, I simply choose to do something else when the tables are bad. This simple skill increases your hourly earn rate a great deal.

Sometimes, there are a few fish playing in different games on the site. When I’m not earning for a promo, I may only play in those games and just relax and wait for a spot to take money from the fish, but when playing for a promo, I’ll play other bad games at the same time.

Mental Fortitude

This skill is often overlooked by poker grinders, but is possibly more important than table selection.

The longer I play, the more mistakes I will make due to exhaustion, tilt, and distraction.

When I’m not playing for a promo, I quit when I notice myself playing on autopilot or becoming frustrated. Typically, when playing for a promo, I have the attitude that I can’t quit and have to push through.

There is no doom switch

The reality is that certain events will cause an online poker player to vary his game in a negative fashion such as improper game selection or playing while tired.

Withdraws and promos are two prime examples that the player may attribute his reduced winrate to some kind of superstition instead of seeing it for what it really is.

Keep in mind too that it’s just a reduced winrate. Variance may blind us to the truth. There have been months when I was playing for promos that I did very well despite the bad play.

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