10/04/2008

So You Wanna Be a Prop?

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Props or proposition players as they are better known have been used by live casinos for years. They are not to be classed the same as “shills” because these people play on their own money but their goal apart from winning money for themselves is to start and maintain poker games for as long as possible. The reason why I am tagging this article onto my recent articles on heads up play is because they have some connection.

Over the past few years, this practice has spread to online poker sites. Usually when a site has prop players then this tends to be an indication that the site is small and simply needs to take measures to promote action. The bigger sites don’t need them simply because they never have a shortage of players.

In return for playing poker in this way, the player tends to get paid most if not all of their rake back. The main reason of course for a prop is to encourage players to take a seat and this means being prepared to sit at an empty table and play some heads up and short handed for a while until the game fills up. Someone may be prepared to play you heads up for a while but there may be several players hovering on the site who would like to play but really don’t fancy playing heads up.

So Player A sits down and suddenly one of the watching players doesn’t really mind three handed play and another thinks that a four handed game will rapidly fill up and especially on a six max game and suddenly we have a herd like effect and the game is full and you have done your job.

But to be a successful prop then you must be at least a decent short handed and heads up player otherwise you can find yourself losing more in the actual play than you would with the extra rakeback. I have encountered many propping sites over the years and some are good and some are not so good but one of the best in my opinion is Rake Back Nation who have always been above board and fair.

But prop players must play under certain rules and we will take a look at those now. Props tend to have to start games so sitting down at a four handed game for instance is not likely to earn you any money. You also have to play for a set number of hours a week which can vary from site to site. Also you can be asked to play at certain limits and types of games as well which tends to be the games that are sparsely populated although once again this can vary from site to site.

But there are downsides to being a prop as well and this can especially the case if you happen to be a skilled heads up player. This is that you will be operating on a very small site most of the time and the amount of downtime in between games could be substantial depending on the time of day. This is why some sites also insist that you play at certain times as well to try and alleviate this.

But on small sites that pay a very high rake back for props then you can easily run into other prop players and prop players tend to be very good short handed players and a site that is over populated by working props can be tough to beat. If you ever go onto a small site and see the same player constantly sat at an empty table then chances are that they are working as a prop.

But as with anything else, if you are a good heads up and short handed player and get to know who the other tough players are and avoid them then you will make money being a prop player. But if you play at a small site and you take a seat in a six max game that has one seat available, the chances are that this game was started by the arrival of a prop player so in essence they help the poker community by starting games that otherwise would not have started at all.

Another downside of being a prop is that you almost certainly give up things like sign up bonuses and reload bonuses as these are incentives that are given to regular players and a prop is no longer a regular player. So it is a double edged sword with regards propping but it is definitely something that I think many people should consider and especially if online poker gets any tougher because one of the things that you may need to have a serious look at in the future is your cost of playing poker. At this moment in time, there are enough weak players to make the effect of this negated but in the future??

As usual I will be available through the forum to answer any questions.

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