Rakeback & VIP
Today we're going to talk about how you can get the most out of every hand you play. I'm not going to go into studying or reviewing concepts since we've already covered a lot of that before. Today, I’m going to focus on how to squeeze out every nickel and every dime poker sites are willing to give you.
We've talked about freerolls before, and we've talked about promotions, but now we're going to talk about rakeback and VIP programs. These are things that are not fully understood by people, especially a lot of new people. Newbies can easily get taken advantage of by poker sites since they don't know about this stuff.
Let's get started.
What is rakeback?
Proper rakeback is the cornerstone for building an online bankroll. It helps you withstand the dry spells of cards, alleviates the pressures of grinding, and gives you a solid reward for putting in volume. Simply, it's a percentage you earn for every hand or tournament played.
How do I get rakeback?
First understand that rakeback might not be called rakeback at some places. PokerStars, for instance, just has a sweet VIP program that essentially gives you the same rewards. To get rakeback, you have to sign up through a referrer. You select a poker room through a rakeback offers page, and then you’re tracked through the rakeback provider, providing you took the right steps, like clearing your cookies and using the proper sign up links. After that you just play poker as usual, and once a week or once a month, the rakeback provider will deposit what you've earned right into your online poker account - and this is why it's called rakeback: you're getting a piece of the rake you paid, back. The poker sites just don't give you rakeback; it has to be done through a third party.
More good news...
You don't have to look beyond this page to find out where you can get rakeback. I've sought out the most competitive rakeback programs in the industry, and I'm happy to give them to you for free.
So what about VIP programs?
VIP programs are becoming an industry standard, and they're also a good way to add some extra heft to your bankroll. Think of these programs as the more mainstream version of rakeback. Just like rakeback deals, all you have to do is play poker, and then the VIP aspect takes care of itself. For every hand you play (and for some sites, for every hand you're dealt in), you will be given points. These points can be used in a points store for cash, tournament buy-ins, swag and all sorts of other cool stuff (e.g. vacations, sports cars - it gets pretty insane at the highest levels). VIP programs are great because you can track your points every day, and even if you had a losing session, you can feel like you came out a winner.
Which sites have the best VIP programs?
In order of the best site to the least best, here are your top picks.
I would never say worst, because anything more than 0% is awesome. Not many industries are as generous with their customer loyalty programs as the poker industry.
- PokerStars (74%)
- iPoker (50%)
- 888poker (36%)
- America's Cardroom (27%)
- partypoker (22.2%)
- Titan (20%)
I'm sure some of the smaller sites have decent VIP programs too, but the sites I have just mentioned are also the most secure sites to keep your money - and we all know how important security is.
Now, I feel behooved to mention that the percentages I've listed here and the percentages you'll see if you Google VIP programs will always be the highest percentages offered by the site to the upper echelon of VIP players. Introductory rates when you first open your account will be around 5%. It's pretty easy to work your way up though.
Also, keep in mind that higher rates are easier to achieve on iPoker, partypoker and 888poker than on PokerStars, since PokerStars Super Nova Elite program takes an almost inhuman amount of play to achieve. This said, if you have a background in gaming or are just that much of a sicko, then Super Nova Elite may be right up your alley, offering over six figures cash, guaranteed. (Props to anyone who's done this!)
Benefits of Moving Up the VIP Program
As I've mentioned, as you move up, you get a higher percentage return on every dollar you play. This is through a higher multiplier on points earned.
In some points stores, higher level VIPs can actually get discounts on items. Combine the higher multiplier on every point earned, and you're getting a major discount in store.
Moving on up the VIP ladder also gives you access to better items. Who wouldn't want to grind it out for a year, and then click a button and get shipped a Porsche? The programs are that awesome. You can also get five figure cash bonuses, concierge service and much more. If you can dream it, it's probably at the top level of the VIP program.
So how do you get to the top?
The recipe for success is pretty simple: grind hard and stay loyal. Staying loyal is especially important. It's damn easy to reach the middle level of multiple VIP programs, but it's almost impossible to reach the top level on multiple sites. The highest levels are where all the perks are. But don't feel that you need to go for the gold right out of the gate. Going for these levels is for when you are seriously ready to commit. There's still goodness to be had in the mid levels. So experiment; try out a bunch of solid poker sites until you find one that really suits your style in terms of software, action, aesthetics, etc. Then - and only then - start really grinding it out.
I know many people just stick with the first site they play on, but that doesn't always mean it is the right fit for you. (I mean, how many of us are still with our high school girlfriends or boyfriends? Some might be, but the vast majority have moved on.) You're missing out if you’re not willing to try different things.
Another great thing about VIP programs is that microstake grinders can still get really high up and are rewarded handsomely for their hard work. If you’re willing to put in volume, the poker sites will consider you VIP.
Bottom line: if you're a loyal player, you won't be overlooked.
And there you have it. I’ve talked to people in the industry to get the facts straight and save you time so you can get grinding. And that’s what this is all about, right? Having fun and playing quality poker.