What is Rakeback? And Why is it so Costly?

online poker

Nothing in life is free and that includes playing online poker. When playing online poker, most players only think about how much money they have to deposit when considering the costs.

Most players forget the #1 cost of playing poker – the rake.

Today we are going to look at rake in online poker and rakeback deals. You will learn how rake is collected and how you can get some of that rake back through rakeback. You will also find out what is rakeback and how to spot the best rakeback deals online.

Understanding Rake

rakebackIf you play real money online poker, you will pay rake. The rake is the percentage of each pot or tournament entry collected by an online poker site. How much rake you pay is dependant on a couple of factors. First, are you playing cash games or tournaments?

Cash game players are generally going to pay more rake per session than tournament players because rake is collected each and every time a hand is played. For example, let’s take a look at PokerStars’ rake for .01/.02.

PokerStars only charges rake on a hand if it goes to the flop (or past the initial deal in other forms of poker). At that point, they charge 3.5% rake on the pot up to a cap of .30 cents per hand.

While that may not sound like a lot, let’s look at this over time. Let’s say that you’re at a table that sees 60 hands per hour. Let’s assume that half of those hands go to the flop or later and that the average pot for those hands is $2.50.

At 3.5% rake, that’s .09 per hand. Over 30 hands that is $2.70 per hour raked in this game. If you buy-in for 100 bigs in this game, that’s more than your initial buy-in going to rake every hour.

For poker tournaments, rake is the tournament fees that you pay when signing up for a tournament. Let’s say that you are paying a $10 tournament on PokerStars. That is usually broken down as $9 + $1, with $1 going to the company in rake. This is collected from every player. If 1,000 players enter the tournament, that’s $1,000 in rake to the company.

In theory, if no money were added to a game, in time the rake would eventually collect every dollar on the table. Some live poker rooms have rake that is so high that it is very difficult for players to make any money in the game. Fortunately, online poker rooms charge a greatly reduced rake.

However, rake can still take a significant chunk of your bankroll over time. That is why serious poker players look for any type of rakeback deal they can get from the best online poker sites.

What is Rakeback?

percentageSimply stated, rakeback is a percentage of rake that online poker sites return to online poker players. Some sites do this one a weekly basis while others do so monthly.

The way it works is relatively simple. Let’s say that you play online poker in UK and your site agrees to pay you 30% rakeback every month. This means that 30% of the money that the site collects is credited to your online poker account each month.

For example, let’s say you generate $500 each month in rake. With 30% rakeback, you would receive $150 of that rake back into your online poker account. This isn’t “bonus” money but funds available for either play or cash out.

Examining Rakeback Deals

There are different types of rakeback deals and it is important that you understand the difference. The original form of rakeback deals are those that are negotiated with online poker rooms. Not every site offers rakeback and sometimes you have to negotiate with customer support for such a deal. Typically, you need to be a relatively high volume player for these sites to give you a rakeback deal.

Some sites offer rakeback as part of player rewards or VIP programs. These rakeback programs typically require that you earn a set number of points each month and the amount of rakeback is dependent on which VIP level you obtain. Some of these deals have rakeback as low as 10% and aren’t always worth the high volume of play they require.

Other sites will offer what’s known as “cash back.” While this is generally viewed as rakeback, this is really just an exchange of player points for a cash reward. If the number of points required for a reward is not unreasonable, this is a better option than no rakeback whatsoever.

A few sites will offer rakeback to new players at signup. When you sign up for online poker with this site, you are offered a chance to “opt in” for rakeback. Make sure you read the conditions of these deals as sometimes they are merely cash back programs with your points automatically being converted to “rakeback.”

We will caution that you avoid rakeback rewards offered by online poker affiliate sites. These deals are often lower than those you can negotiate directly with the site. Also, many of these deals are against the TOS of your online poker room. You could actually be banned from a site for accepting a rakeback deal from an affiliate.

Also, keep in mind that affiliate sites are paid a percentage of rakeback on the rake you generate. This means you are basically getting a small cut of the money they are making, assuming they actually pay you.

Do Your Homework

caution signIf you regularly play online poker, you should look into rakeback. It is a great way to recoup some of the cost of playing online poker. For some players, rakeback turns an otherwise losing month into a winner.

We urge you to do your homework on rakeback deals. Get in touch with some of the best online poker sites and inquire on their rakeback deals. If they do not have any information on their websites, contact customer support to see what deals you can negotiate. If you get an answer such as, “what is rakeback,” ask to speak to a supervisor or manager.

Check around at some of the popular online poker forums such as 2+2 Forums and see what others are saying about rakeback at certain sites. Those with experience in this area are more than happy to brag about their deals and you can pick up some pointers on where the best deals are.

Of course, you can always check out the reviews on PokerUpdate for the best rakeback deals. Whether you play online poker in UK, Australia, Canada or elsewhere, we will have information about rakeback and which sites offer it.

Finally, don’t automatically accept the first deal you get. Consider multiple offers and even try and use them to negotiate the best deal when possible. Getting a solid rakeback deal can help you keep more of your online poker bankroll and keep you in the game longer.