Monday, February 21, 2011

How to Become a “Supernova Elite” at PokerStars

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Want a free Porsche Cayman S? Want free entry to WCOOP events? Want to use your PokerStars VPPs to purchase almost anything you want? Then you’ll need to become a “Supernova Elite”, the highest status attainable in the PokerStars online poker VIP program. The requirements for becoming a Supernova Elite seem astronomical to the average player, but several online poker professionals have achieved and held the exclusive Supernova Elite title since the new VIP program was instituted at PokerStars. This article is going to lay out the VPP requirements for becoming a Supernova Elite at PokerStars.com, and will also explain exactly how much online poker you would have to play to reach Supernova Elite status.

The Requirements for Supernova Elite Status

To become a Supernova Elite at PokerStars, you have to earn 1,000,000 VPPs (VIP Player Points) in a single calendar year. Due to the extreme point requirements, virtually the only way to become a Supernova Elite is to plan out a strategy that starts your play on January 1st and continues all the way to December 31st. I wouldn’t advise you to begin your Supernova Elite quest any later than March, as the task becomes much much harder.

How to Earn VPPs

Now that you know you need 1,000,000 VPPs in a single calendar year to become a Supernova Elite, let’s discuss how you actually earn VPPs. There are two  ways to earn PokerStars VPPs: by playing real money ring games and by playing real money MTTs/SNGs. We’ll discuss each way now:

Earning VPPs at Ring Games

The first way to earn VPPs is by playing real money ring games, and there are two methods for calculating the points you earn – the first method is for tables with eight or more seats (regardless of how many players are actually seated), and the second method is for tables with seven or less seats (regardless of how many players are actually seated).

Ring Games with Eight or More Seats

Every time a dollar is raked from a pot at a table with eight or more seats, six VPPs are awarded. These VPPs are then equally split between the players who were dealt in, regardless if the players folded preflop or went all the way to showdown. So, if you were sitting at a nine-handed Hold’em table, and the pot was raked $2, a total of 12 points would be awarded. Since there were nine players dealt into the hand, each player receives 1.33 VPPs for the hand.

Ring Games with Seven or Less Seats

Every time a dollar is raked from the pot at a table with seven or less seats, 5.5 VPPs are awarded. These VPPs are then equally split between the players who were dealt in, regardless if the players folded preflop or went all the way to showdown. So, if you were sitting at a six-handed Hold’em table, and the pot was raked $2, a total of 11 points would be awarded. Since there were five players dealt into the hand, each player receives 1.83 VPPs for the hand.
Earning VPPs in MTTs/SNGs

The other way to earn VPPs is to play real money MTTs or real money SNGs. Every time you pay $1 in fees in a MTT or SNG, you earn 5.5 VPPs. So, if you enter a $50+$5 sit and go, you would earn 27.5 VPPs.

How Much Do You Have to Play to Reach Supernova Elite?

Since PokerStars gives us all of the numbers, figuring out how much you have to play to make SuperNova Elite is fairly easy. Now I’m going to run some calculations for ring game players, SNG players, and MTT players:

Nine-Handed Ring Game Players

Nine-handed ring game players at the following levels would have to play roughly the listed number of hours in a single year to make Supernova Elite (assuming an average rate of 75 hands/hour/table):

    * $1/$2 NL players would have to play 1,360 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling, you would have to average playing 23 tables at a time for 60 hours per week (for an entire year). Obviously, $1/$2 players are not making Supernova Elite regularly, but as a commenter pointed out below, it is possible.

    * $2/$4 NL players would have to play 900 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling, you would have to average playing 15 tables at a time for 60 hours per week (for an entire year). Again, these players are not making Supernova Elite regularly, but as a commenter pointed out below, it is possible.

    * $5/$10 NL players would have to play 320 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling you would have to average playing 8 tables at a time for 40 hours per week (for an entire year). Although this seems more manageable, actually producing that output for an entire year would be challenging.

    * $10/$20 NL players would have to play 240 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling, you would have to average playing 6 tables at a time for 40 hours per week (for an entire year). This is getting a little more reasonable, but very few players are actually able to average 40 hours of playing time per week, especially while playing 6 tables at a time. Also, there is no guarantee that six tables of $10/$20 NL will even be running at any given hour.

At this point any increase in stakes doesn’t really change the numbers, because at the $10/$20 level almost every pot is reaching the maximum rake preflop, on the flop, on the turn, and on the river, so moving up in stakes doesn’t really increase rake, and thus doesn’t really increase a player’s rate of VPP earnings. Also, there are rarely enough tables running at the $25/$50+ level to actually multi-table consistently.

So basically, as long as you are playing nine-handed $10/$20 NL or higher, you have to play roughly 936,000 hands of poker per year (240 total hours per week x 52 weeks x 75 hands per hour) to make Supernova Elite. For a player who, on average, plays six tables at a time, that is 2,080 hours of poker per year. That is a lot of poker, especially considering that there are only 8,760 total hours in a year…

Seven-Handed (or less) Ring Game Players

Seven-handed (or less) ring game players at the following levels would have to play roughly the listed number of hours in a single year to make Supernova Elite (assuming an average rate of 75 hands/hour/table):

    * $1/$2 NL players would have to play 960 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling, you would have to average playing 16 tables at a time for 60 hours per week (for an entire year). Obviously, $1/$2 players are not making Supernova Elite regularly, but as a commenter pointed out below, it is possible.

    * $2/$4 NL players would have to play 660 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling, you would have to average playing 11 tables at a time for 60 hours per week (for an entire year). These players are not making Supernova Elite regularly, but as a commenter pointed out below, it is possible

    * $5/$10 NL players would have to play 240 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling you would have to average playing 6 tables at a time for 40 hours per week (for an entire year). Although this seems more manageable, actually producing that output for an entire year would be challenging, especially considering that short-handed tables are tougher to multi-table.

    * $10/$20 NL players would have to play 180 hours of poker per week, if playing a single table. If you were multi-tabling, you would have to average playing 5 tables at a time for 36 hours per week (for an entire year). This is getting a little more reasonable, but few players are actually able to average 36 hours of playing time per week, especially while playing 5 short-handed tables at a time.

At this point any increase in stakes doesn’t really change the numbers, because at the $10/$20 level almost every pot is reaching the maximum rake preflop, on the flop, on the turn, and on the river, so moving up in stakes doesn’t really increase rake, and thus doesn’t really increase a player’s rate of VPP earnings. Also, there are rarely enough tables running at the $25/$50+ level to actually multi-table consistently.

So basically, as long as you are playing seven-handed (or less) $10/$20 NL or higher, you have to play roughly 702,000 hands of poker per year (180 total hours per week x 52 weeks x 75 hands per hour) to make Supernova Elite. For a player who, on average, plays five tables at a time, that is 1,872 hours of poker per year. That is still a lot of poker – remember that there are only 8,760 total hours in a year…

Sit and Go Players

Players who exclusively play SNGs simply cannot make Supernova Elite, just because there aren’t enough high-stakes SNGs running day-to-day. To make Supernova Elite just from SNG play, you would have to four-table $300 sit and gos for 40 hours per week. However, the games just aren’t there, as only one or two of these high-stakes sit and gos fill up every hour. Same goes for short-handed sit and gos as well as heads-up sit and gos – it just cannot happen.

MTT Players

Again, players who exclusively play MTTs cannot make Supernova Elite, just because there aren’t enough tournaments available. You would have to play $57,400 worth of tournaments per week. Even if you played every big tournament that PokerStars offered, you just couldn’t get enough action to get there.

The Best Way to Become a Supernova Elite?

From the numbers in this article, it is clear that playing shorthanded, high-stakes cash games is the best way to become a Supernova Elite. If you would like to run some numbers of your own, here is the calculator I used: PokerStars VPP calculator.article!