After all the events affecting online poker in 2011, players are once again shopping around for places to play; with the closure of Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet/Absolute in the tank and other online networks shutting out players or trimming perks, those looking for new sites to play on will want to take rake back or “rakeback” offers into strong consideration.
When poker boomed and the “big brands” emerged, many new players took advantage of the quick deposit bonuses or other offers, signing up where friends were playing with little consideration to opportunity for rake back. After becoming comfortable with where they were playing, looking at the huge dollars that could be returned to them faded into the background.
With today’s game and players evolving, many will admit it’s not at easy to make big cheques as it used to be and anything that can increase the bottom line should be at the top of every players list. Rake back has become one of the larger factors that determine the difference between winning and losing players.
For those that are interested but have never taken a serious look, there are several things that affect the amount of rake each player will play and how much rake back they are enrolled to should they set up a program:
Preferred Game Format; Full ring, Short handed, Sit & Goes or Multi-Table Tournaments
Every player has their niche, but what tables you play will affect the amount of rake you generate; obviously cash games are king, the bigger the better or at least until “caps” are met, but many players still do quite well with rake back playing high volumes of MTTs or SNGs. In fact, depending on how much you play, even after significant losses at the felts, players have proven time and time again that they can still make a very decent wage just on what is returned from their rake-back program; browse the forums and databases and you are sure to find players that lose 5-6 figures annually, yet still come out ahead a middle class salary.
There is a balance of course, and SNGs or cash games seem to be the preferred approach when it comes to playing “ABC” poker to gain combined ROI through winnings and rake-back. Multi-Table tournaments take much longer but the larger scores can compensate, so it really depends on your strengths. Hyper/Turbos take it up another notch, and allow players to put the volume in almost as quickly as being semi-active in a cash game. The important thing to remember is that you are getting back a percentage of what you put in, so the more you can afford to play, the more players at the table doing the same, the better your rake return will be.
Negative Profits for the Site
It is important to think of Rake-Back as a “commission” on the money the house earns; playing in any casinos or sports betting on the same site could see you lose any potential rake returns. Let’s say a player is waiting for tournament to start or a seat to open and decides to play a few slots or other offerings; should they “hit”, that award will be deducted from any commissions they may have earned. A jackpot win will see the virtual bank-out swell, but it will need to be “worked off” before future cheques through poker rake are earned. If you know you will be tempted, choose a site with-out other games to grind on.
Varying stakes/buy-ins will have rake rates and caps, but proportionally can be far from equal; look carefully at these percentages before settling on a particular game if rake-back profits are your goal, many times the rake paid will be higher at the lower limits, yet their impact on “qualifying” for rewards will be much lower. To put it a different way, you’ll be paying a larger fee or rake in proportion to the pot most times at the smaller stakes, yet earning a considerably smaller “share” in return.
Weighted Contributed, Averaged Contributed Method or Dealt Cards
Not all programs are created equal and it’s important know if your commission will be calculated using a weighted or averaged method. In the weighted method you get back based on what you contribute to the rake in each individual hand, while in the averaged it’s just an equal share of the total rake of a hand you participate in.
This applies primarily to cash games and finding programs that use the averaged method can be fewer and further between and in the end the average method may not better for you anyway; it might take a little homework to decide, but look at the percentages being used and your own playing style. If your a table captain that likes to mix it up and put into many pots, weighted might be best for you. One other thing to consider is if they are adjusting this rate based on skill. The house likes to win and if it is obvious that your play is superior to others at your table, “playing smaller” than usual for example, a “handicap” of sorts might be applied. This adjustment is said to be no more than around 25%, but favors the lesser skilled.
If “tight is right” in your opinion and you wait patiently for crazy LAGS to stack off that keep the table active for you, the averaged method might offer you a better return over the long run.
Dealt Cards is the simplest method; to give an example, if 5 players are dealt into a hand and the rake hits $1, each player will be credited with generating 20 cents of rake.
VIP Level and Sponsorship Deals
Loyalty programs reward those that really put in the time; as you climb the VIP or Frequent Player ladder, so will the rate of return. Quite simply, the more you rake you generate through play, the higher the percentage pay. This can very greatly; PokerStars for example varies from 15% to 83% depending on your VIP level. There is only one way to move up the scale however and that is through volume; finding the highest stakes your are comfortable with and playing regularly is the fastest route, or playing staking that represent a very small percentage of your total bankroll and playing as many tables as possible.
While dollar for dollar it might cost less VIP, loyalty or frequent points or be more tempting to trade them in for tournament tickets or poker related products and swag,if earning a pay cheque is your goal, look for cash bonus offers in the site stores that can be cashed out and put into the bank; rather than offers than force you to keep things “in play.” These points are money and if the rakeback program doesn’t award you any “real money” options, look for something else.
Eventually becoming a “patched” or “sponsored” pro is something many online players dream of or strive to achieve and it’s worth applying when sites are recruiting; we have talked to Canadians that have made it this way and there has never been a better time for our players to get hooked up with a poker agency than in the current online market. How much rake you generate or can bring in through your network and marketability will be one of things that is considered when making their choices. It also seems that there are large misconceptions out there that sponsored or signed players get their way payed for; only the most recognized and charismatic names will ever be cut that deal.
For most the pay cheque comes in the form of either an hourly rate for playing on the site, a better than normal rake back rate of up to 100%, or a combination of both. While their is some truth in free buy-ins for live events sponsored by the site, the same offer and perks are given to those at the top of the VIP programs, “signed” or not.
While programs like the one on PokerStars simply require more generated rake to get better rates and “playing off” any deposit bonuses, if you have already signed up for an account it isn’t even, or sometimes even possible to get rakeback going for you at a latter date. Quite simply, you might have unknowingly taken a “lesser offer” by signing up through another promotion. Rakeback is usually the best deal they can put on the table and they are counting on getting you for cheaper through marketing hype or the “fast buck”.
In today’s game players have been around longer and are more educated, but that doesn’t mean many new players just discovering the game will miss out or already have. While e-mails to support and VIP reps can sometimes get the job done, it’s a tricky situation. If they don’t stick to the position that you took the initial offer, there is the chance that you signed up under an affiliate who chose your rake back as a form of commission, and many times they get a much better deal to extend to you than is offered to the individual. If the site were to now give it to you, they are breaking a previous agreement and that just isn’t good business and unfortunately, we’re back to square one.
Your best bet, if you really like the network or software is to switch “skins”; to use a simple example most would recognize, players on UB and Absolute or B.C.’s PlayNow.com and Quebec’s Espacejeux.com are playing on different sites, but on the same network. You were seated with players from the other site, you just see different graphics. This is done to increase available players and be able to offer games or seats quicker; with the exception of a few “big guns”, most sites use this arrangement.
A few searches on google and chances are you will find a few other other sites you can sign up for that are on the same network, so the only things that will change for you are the look, the name…and your eligibility for rake back. Moving to one of these other rooms and signing up for a rake back program of this time around can mean a huge a jump in your earnings, with zero changes to the way you play.
We’ll bring you an interviews from a successful Canadian “rake back pro” earning five figures a month and all the benefits soon; in the meantime why not checkout some of rake back resources.