PokerStars rakeback –
is there such a thing?
PokerStars is currently THE largest online poker operation out there, with the biggest and best offers as far as many things go: tournaments, promotions, game selection, sign-up bonus…you name it! It doesn’t come as a surprise then that so many people are interested in the PokerStars rakeback. Is there such a thing at all though? Yes and no.
Those hunting for such a deal will find “PokerStars rakeback” pages on many of the rakeback-oriented portals, which try to sell the deal as if it was one of their regular rakeback deals. Some of these sites even come up with percentages for their PokerStars rakeback deals. The bottom line is though, there is no PokerStars rakeback per se. The deal these sites wrap in a nice shiny package and sell as one of “their” rakeback deals is the VIP Club deal that PokerStars offers to all its players, without the need to sign up through a third party. While the deal does amount to a rakeback-like setup, it cannot officially be called that and it is not a deal made for third party rakeback portals to attract players with. It is simply a setup that all of PokerStars players benefit from, regardless of the channels through which they register. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s see what this VIP Club deal really is about.
At PokerStars, players are rewarded with VPPs for the real money hands that they play. In cash games, they get VPPs based on the amount of rake they generate. In tournaments, they’re rewarded for the tournament fees they pay.
In cash games, for every hand which generates at least 40 cents of rake, a VPP used to be awarded to all participants. As of 2010, the cash game VPP policy has changed a little at PokerStars, Nowadays players who play at tables with a minimum of 8 seats (the actual number of players at the table is irrelevant) 6 VPPs will be awarded to the table, for every $1 in resulting rake. The 6 VPPs are then distributed equally among the players at the table. So basically, if you play heads-up at an 8-seat table, and you generate $1 rake on a hand, you get 3 VPPs for it.
For tables with 7 or fewer seats, the table gets 5.5 VPPs for every $1 in resulting rake. In tournaments, players get a flat 5.5 VPPs for every $1 they pay in tournament fees.
It would all be extremely simple if it weren’t for the VIP levels players can attain. The VIP ladder that PokerStars features and which has all new players starting at BronzeStar level, introduces the concept of FPPs (frequent player points) right on top of the VIP Point system. As I said, every new player starts at BronzeStar. He can then move up the ranks by generating VPPs. If a player manages to accumulate 750 VPPs in a month, he becomes a SilverStar. He can advance further up the ladder (through the GoldStar, PlatinumStar and SuperNova levels, all the way to SuperNova Elite) the same way: by earning ever more VPPs. Each one of these VIP levels offers a whole bunch of different perks, but the most important benefit is in the increase of the FPP multiplier. While on the BronzeStar level one VPP is worth exactly 1 FPP, on SilverStar it’s worth 1.5 FPPs, on GoldStar 2 FPPs, on PlatinumStar 2.5 FPPs, on SuperNova 3.5 FPPs and on SuperNovaElite 5 FPPs.
Basically, as a player, it’s the FPPs you’re after. These FPPs can be spent in a variety of ways (gift certificates, freeroll buy-ins, PokerStars merchandize, heck…even a car), but those who are after the PokerStars rakeback deal will spend them on bonuses.
With everything thrown into the pot, and using the 5.5 VPP/tourney fee dollar rate, it is relatively easy to determine the rakeback equivalent players get by unlocking these purchased bonuses. On SilverStar level, it would the equivalent of picking up a nearly 15% rakeback. On GoldStar, the rate hits 27% - which is the equal of the ever popular Full Tilt rakeback.
The maximum tournament rakeback a player can get is 41%, on the SuperNovaElite level.
In cash games, determining the exact % of the PokerStars rakeback players can secure is much more difficult, because the equation is influenced by the betting structure (Limit or NL) and the number of seats at the table. The minimum rakeback a player can earn on the SilverStar level will be around 11%. GoldStar cash rakeback levels vary between 17% and 24%.
The absolute max. one can secure is on the SuperNovaElite level of course and it can amount to a massive 85%. That there is almost as good as a poker prop deal but I do realize not many everyday players will ever reach that VIP level, so the focus here should be on the 11-24%, on the humanly reachable SilverStar and GoldStar levels.
SuperNova status will carry excellent benefits and with the modifications PokerStars have made to the system recently, maintaining the SuperNova level is easier than before.
To all this, one should also add the fact that PokerStars has a new $600 sign-up bonus deal, a bonus which – unlike in the case of some of the other poker rooms – is NOT subtracted from the “PokerStars rakeback”.
With all that in mind, the deal is not a bad one at all.