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If you happen to be a recreational online poker player who stopped logging on and playing at the real money tables, it may be time to resurrect that old poker room account and return.

The online poker industry is changing in a big way, with the tables tilting heavily in favor of “recs” over “regs.” Poker site operators are bending over backwards to attract casual players, doing their very best to make the game more appealing to non-pros.

This past week, both 888poker and TonyBet Poker announced upcoming loyalty program changes designed to dole out more rewards to casual players at the expense of high volume grinders and winning players. That follows similar changes at PokerStars that went into effect at the beginning of 2016.

The idea is to make the bankrolls of recreational players last longer, thereby enhancing their online poker playing experience. If casual players enjoy their time spent playing online poker, they will be more likely to make future deposits. And those deposits are what keeps poker rooms afloat and thriving.

888poker Club

The revamping at 888poker will begin on March 28 when the VIP program will henceforth be known as the 888poker Club. The changes are heavy on gamification and light on rakeback, with player rewards focused on completing various challenges.


“The main objective of the new plan is to reallocate the loyalty budget from the heavy grinders to the masses,” an 888poker rep stated on 2 + 2. “We want to reward players for other activities, including long term loyalty to 888poker, rather than only for grinding.”

Full details of the new plan have yet to be revealed by 888poker, with more to be known as we get closer to the effective date later this month. However, unlike problems that arose at PokerStars when VIP benefits based on a 2-year player point earning program were slashed after just one year, 888poker intends to honor its players who are “entitled to yearly cashback in the existing rewards plan.”

TonyBet Poker

The changes at TonyBet Poker revolve around a restructured rakeback system that allocates more rakeback to losing players and less to players who win. Player wins and losses will be analyzed on a daily basis, with rakeback deposited in player accounts every Monday in accordance with those results.

The biggest losers will get up to 80% rakeback, while daily winners of over €100 can expect just 25%. The new rakeback system goes into effect on March 7 and does not include Open Face Chinese Poker, which is a featured game at TonyBet Poker.

Will the Recs Return?

Casual online poker players have had plenty of reasons to log out and never return to poker sites. Some of the issues that have likely turned recs against real money online poker include cheating scandals, bum-hunting, the use of HUDs, Black Friday, getting berated for poor play, and poker sites shutting down without honoring existing account balances. Some even dislike having to wait long periods of time for multi-tabling players to act.

Many poker rooms have made strides in eliminating a number of those issues, at least the ones within their control. However, providing recreational players with greater cash rewards and a fun playing experience goes a long way toward offsetting some of those perceived negative aspects of playing online poker.


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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.