Climbing the VIP ladder the right way
I've been playing a ton online lately. That was my plan heading into the summer -- to play only a little at the WSOP and try to put in a lot of volume online in June and July -- and it worked well. Even in Holland where I sometimes have a lot of distractions, I was able to play a lot and am pleased with how it went.
At the WSOP I only played a few events and things didn't go especially well, and when it was over I was eager to get back to my original plan to get back home and play more online. I've decided to go for Supernova Elite this year, in fact, and so that's another reason why I've decided to focus on playing more.
It only took a couple of days back grinding online that I realized how many VPPs I was accumulating and after projecting a schedule for the rest of the year I saw how Supernova Elite really was a reasonable goal for me. Besides being a fun challenge, even if I don't make it I'll end up putting in so much volume that I'll gain a lot from playing that much and improving my game.
The VIP system at PokerStars is great and for full-time players there is no reason not to take advantage of it when they can. Being aware of the various rewards and managing your play to try to achieve them can add considerably to your ROI, and thus it's foolish, really, to leave that money on the table.
Of course when you're consciously trying to play more hands and achieve these goals, you don't want to let going for more volume negatively affect how you play. Sometimes I'll definitely notice myself playing a few too many tables, but usually I'll quickly recognize the mistake and cut back.
There's another potential hazard when focusing on accumulating VPPs that involves being tempted perhaps to play at higher stakes than you are comfortable with just to earn points more quickly. You might feel fine playing at $1/$2, for instance, but when you see how you can earn more VPPs at $2/$4 you might want to move up when it wouldn't be a good move for you in terms of your game and where it stands relative to the opponents at those different levels.
Another thing I would suggest to anyone who considering playing more in order to achieve a certain VIP status is to be realistic when setting your goal. Don't give yourself a goal that requires you to play for days on end without interruption in order to achieve it. There's always the risk of burning out, too, if you exert yourself too much in that way. You have to give yourself time to get away from the computer and exercise and eat well.
It all comes down to finding your comfort zone, and I mean that in several different ways -- finding the stakes you're comfortable playing, the amount of hours per day you're comfortable playing, and also how comfortable you are fitting poker into your daily routine. I'd suggest if you were going for a certain VPP-related goal to make it supplemental to your regular play, something that kind of grows out of what you already are doing, and doesn't wholly define it.
I'm not sure I'll make it to Supernova Elite this year. I still have a long way to go, and it will definitely take most of the year for me to get there -- probably right up to the end of December. But I'm enjoying trying and I feel like I need challenges like this for me to be able to put in a lot of volume.
Lex Veldhuis is a member of Team PokerStars Pro