In December, the site hosted a milestone hands promotion that may not have driven the highest quality traffic, but caused average cash game liquidity to nearly double over a ten-day span.
Early February brought a rare reload bonus, which sparked a short-lived, yet notable 20 percent uptick in ring game activity.
And now we have Cash Game Quests, a return to form in the sense that the promotion rewards players with randomized payouts. Yet it’s representative of the site’s new direction in that it encourages players to grind out a healthy number of cash game hands.
A little bit of old, a little bit of new
Cash Game Quests kicked off on February 20 and runs through March 5, during which time players that grind out 300 real-money cash game hands per day will be entitled to a randomized reward.
The hand requirement is notable in that it’s not so low as to appeal exclusively to casuals. This stands in some contrast to early PokerStars NJ events that targeted the “fun” crowd.
It’s also not so high to deter enthused hobbyists from participating, which isn’t always the case when the site hosts a reload promotion. Call it a balancing act.
Players can opt in to the promo via their personalized Challenges Window, where they can pick their preferred stakes. There are four challenges available, as detailed below:
- Micro Stakes Quest: $0.05 / $0.10 and up, cash rewards range from $1 – $25
- Low Stakes Quest: $0.25 / $0.50 and up, cash rewards of $1 – $200
- Mid Stakes Quest: $1 / $2 and higher, cash rewards start at $2.50 up to $500
- High Stakes Quest: $5 / $10 and higher, cash rewards run from $5 to $1,000
As illustrated, the rewards for completing a high-stakes challenge are significantly better, on balance, than they are for running through 300 hands at the micros.
That being said, the probabilities are heavily skewed toward the low end, meaning that in the majority of cases, players will walk away with a nominal sum — regardless of stake.
Top prize probabilities run between 0.1 – 1 percent, which is better than the odds of spinning a top multiplier at the Spin & Go tables, but still bordering on pipe dream territory.
This promotion can only be completed once daily, which means that whatever quest players choose is their challenge for the day. No backsies on this one.
They will, however, be able to select a different challenge the following day.
Zoom (fast-fold) games are eligible for this promotion, which is good news for players hoping to tear through the daily challenge. Heads-up and limit games are excluded.
All awards are doled out as cash, and credited to player accounts immediately following completion of the challenge.[i15-table tableid=20717][i15-table tableid=19346]
Measuring the promotional value
Close examination of the promotion reveals that it may not be the best of deals. The average daily reward for a micro-stakes grinders comes in at approximately $1.29, which is less than the rake cap for one hand at $0.05 / $0.10
The situation improves marginally at $5 / $10, where players can expect an average reward of $22.50. That’s more along the lines of seven capped hands.
Still, even at the highest stakes the average promotional value for a player that participates every day is just $315, which is notably lower than the $500 awarded to players who cleared their reload bonus.
PokerStars still dueling with WSOP/888
Typically what happens is that PokerStars will temporarily take a small-to-moderate lead over its rival whenever it hosts a cash game promotion, only to concede that lead when the promo meets its end.
That being said, WSOP/888 hasn’t held anything approaching a sizable lead on the cash game front since September. At present, the duo is tied at a rolling average of 132 cash game players, as per data collected from Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.
Expect PokerStars to regain the lead in the coming days, and for the lead to be bigger than it was when the site hosted similarly structured cash game promos (due to Cash Game Quests’ higher daily hand threshold).
However, the lead shouldn’t be as large as when PokerStars launches a reload promotion, as the promotional value of Cash Game Quests is just too paltry.
In either case, we’ve learned that cash game traffic has little bearing on revenue, as PokerStars consistently outperforms WSOP/888 in that area, despite the virtual deadlock at the cash game tables.