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The rise of online poker created opportunities never before seen in professional poker. One of those opportunities is rakeback. During the early days of the Poker Boom, some websites started offering rakeback to their players as a way to keep them returning and as a way to reward high volume players.

If you’re new to online poker, you may not have encountered the term rakeback before now or you didn’t understand its meaning. Today, we are going to go over both the concepts of rake and rakeback. Furthermore, we will give you a few tips on how to avoid bad rakeback deals.

Rake Explained

moneyWhen you hear the term rake used in poker games, this is referring to the portion of each part that is collected by the card room or casino. In cash games, rake is typically collected for each pot played and is a percentage of the total pot. For example, in a cash game that rakes 2.5% of the total pot, the casino would collect .50 from a $20 pot.

For tournament players, rake is the same as the tournament fees collected when you signup for an event. Tournament entries are typically broken down by the buy-in and the fees. For example, a $12 tournament may be listed as $10 + 2. The $2 fee is the rake for the tournament.

Rake is collected for nearly every cash game pot or tournament entry collected. As such, a player must not only be able to earn enough money to beat their opponents but also to survive the rake collected by the casino or card room.

What is Rakeback?

Rakeback is a  promotional tool used by online card rooms as a way to keep long-term and high volume players returning to their site. As the term implies, this means that players receive a portion of their rake refunded back into their account. This is typically done on a monthly basis.

For explaying cardsample, let’s assume that an online poker site offer 25% rakeback for loyal players. If a player generates $1,000 in rake for a month, they would receive $250 back into their poker account.

Depending on the online poker room, poker players may have to negotiate for their deals, as some do not publicly offer rakeback. Other sites offer rakeback as part of player rewards. These deals may require that players accrue a certain number of player points or attain a certain reward level before rakeback kicks in. A traditional rakeback deal does not require player’s points or status levels but some sites may reserve these deals for high volume players that generate enough rake to warrant such an agreement.

The introduction of rakeback into online poker has resulted in “rakeback grinders.” These are poker players whose profits are completely dependant on rakeback. They generate huge amount of rake while essentially breaking even or losing money at the tables. Their rakeback is then used as their profit.

For example, let’s assume a rakeback grinder plays break-even poker for a year yet generates $100,000 in rake. With a 30% rakeback deal, they will finish the year ahead $30,000.

Not All Rakeback Offers Are the Same

We just mentioned that a traditional rakeback deal will reward you a percentage on all rake generate. However, not all rakeback deals are the same. You need to be aware of the terms of each deal before proceeding.

Earlier we mentioned rakeback deals that are part of player rewards. These deals typically require you accrue a set number of points in a month or reach a certain player level. While this is better than no rakeback at all, it is not an optimal deal.

With this type of deal, you will not be rewarded for the rake generated in achieving the level set by the site. Also, you must continually maintain this status in order to keep your rakeback deal.

Another option that you should be careful of is “cash back” deals. While many of these appear to be rakeback just cleverly reworded, there’s usually a catch. For example, the cash back may be dependant on earning a set number of points, which are then used in exchange for the cash back.

Another deceptive cash back offer is one that rewards your cash back in the form of bonus dollars. These bonus dollars typically require that the player either play through the bonus a set number of times or earn a set number of points before it will be released for withdrawal.

Finally, we must also caution you against accepting rakeback deals from online poker affiliate sites. While some sites that set these deals follow through and pay their players, some of these deals are arranged without the knowledge of the site you’re playing.

In addition, the percentage of rakeback may be lower than what you could negotiate on your own. Should the site discover the affiliate is offering rakeback, they could shut down the affiliate account and sometimes even the accounts that signup through said affiliate.

Do Your Research and Shop Around

warning signBefore you signup for a rakeback deal, do your homework and maybe even shop around. There are dozens of online poker forums that discuss rakeback deals and you can find out fairly quickly, which ones pay the most and which are the best to play for.

If you are playing at multiple sites, contact each site individually and inquire on their rakeback deals. Let them know your intentions regarding your online poker play to give them a rough idea of the type of rake you could generate. Online poker sites want players that generate tons of rake and will typically work with high volume players to retain their business.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.