What is Rakeback?
Rakeback is essentially a discount on the price online poker players pay to the house. Savvy online poker players search for rakeback to reduce their costs and increase their profits. Rakeback comes in the form of a rebate most often directly passed from an online poker site to its players. In the past affiliates would be given the funds to distribute to players, but some unscrupulous affiliates ran off with the money and after a few years that practice all but ceased. Signing up with affiliates however is often the only way to receive rakeback at many poker rooms, since affiliate marketers tend to target more savvy players.
An example of rakeback would be suppose that you start an account with your favorite site through an affiliate. The site has negotiated compensation with the affiliate for bringing in your business, usually about one quarter to one third of the rake that you generate. If you play a 10-handed table with $1 rake taken out, each player generates 10 cents in rake; therefore, the affiliate gets a rebate of 2.5 to 3.5 cents. (It's not much for one hand, but it really adds up quickly!) In turn the affiliate may have arranged a rakeback arrangement with you, the end user. In this example, if you're getting 25% rakeback, you'd get 2.5 cents.
How to Find a Good Rakeback Site
- Pick a large trustworthy site with a large player database.
- Go on referrals/ word of mouth from friends / other poker players.
- Browse poker forums for discussions of the best rakeback sites.
- Find one that offers many different rooms so you can pick and choose one to your liking.
- Look for sites which have good referral programs.
- Does the site offer extra promotions like Rake Races and Freerolls?
- Looks for sites that have won industry awards.
- Does the site offer daily stats so you can check your rakeback at any time.
- Maximum rakeback available at poker sites
Some poker sites cap the highest amount of rakeback one can earn from them. This is to stop smaller affiliates undercutting the market by offering more rakeback than their larger competitors. This sounds like a good idea for players in the short term, however the affiliates cost of business will eventually make these levels unattainable and many small affiliates proceed to go under as they become victims of their own success without paying their players. This became a major problem in the late 2000s and lead to the majority of online poker sites offering rakeback directly instead of relying on affiliates to distribute funds to players.
The following are a list of poker rooms and the maximum flat rakeback deals they allow affiliates to offer:
- Intertops - 36%
- Juicy Stakes - 36%
- America's Cardroom - 27%
- Black Chip Poker - 27%
- True Poker - 27%
- Grand Poker - 50%
- Red Star Poker - 30%
- Ya Poker - 27%
- Poker Mania - 20%
What is VIP Rakeback?
This differs from the traditional rakeback where an affiliate returns a portion of the rake paid to the player. VIP Rakeback involves a special promotion whereby a poker room rewards its high volume players directly. The most famous VIP program is that of PokerStars whereby players are awarded Frequest Player Points (FPP's) for their play and can cash them in for prizes ranging from branded gear to tournament entry tickets to iPod's to an Aston Martin. PartyPoker offers players direct cash for their FPP's as do many skins in the iPoker Networking, including TitanPoker and SunPoker.
References and Citations:
The larger rakeback sites, and hence most reputable, are: