If you play online poker like I do, and you’re a player who would describe him/herself as ‘fair’ or ‘average’ - like I am - you’ve probably already experienced some of the problems I find particularly annoying about this - otherwise superb - game.
Don’t you sometimes feel just overwhelmed by some really good or just plain lucky player who strips you of a big fat pot on your full house, thus causing you to give up all your winnings and draw even at the end of the day, at best?
Do you sometimes feel like you’re playing and playing and even though, every now and then, you manage to pull off some superb stunts, at the end of the day all you’re left with, is experience?
Poker is a fun game indeed to play, but that doesn’t change the fact that the object of it is to win money. Until you can’t close the day with at least a slight edge you can’t really call yourself a poker player, now can you?
The reason most of us end up in this situation is because - simply put - we’re probably not good enough players to beat the odds that are native to this game. Just think about it: let’s suppose there are eight players around the table. In order for one of them to win big and win constantly most of the others have to lose constantly. Being the best at the table is no easy matter, but we know that all too well already.
What if I told you there was a way for us, mediocre players to actually walk away with an edge at the end of the day? To beat the poker odds, that is…No, I’m not going to tell you about how you can improve your game (though that is not a bad approach either…more on that in our Poker section)
What I want to explain to you, is the concept of rakeback, also known as rake return. Rakeback is the kind of thing that can make us mediocre players win, and good players win even more, all at the expense of the poker room.
In order to understand what rakeback is all about, we need to make it clear, what the rake is…
What do you think the online poker rooms you play at, live off of? They need money to keep their operation going and to provide you with the top quality service you grew used to. As funny as it sounds, they’re not there solely for your entertainment, they’re somebody’s livelihood. The way these guys generate their money is a pretty ingenious one. They take a small percentage off every pot somebody wins in their room. Simple as that. The losers won’t mind and the winner will be all too happy to bag the chips, so he won’t mind the insignificant looking rake either.
However, this small percentage called the rake has the strength to turn the odds already stacked against weaker players to downright unbeatable.
There is a formula through which one can estimate the amount of rake he/she pays:
Multiply the Average pot size with the number of hands played ( raked hands) and with a 5% constant value, then divide the whole thing with the Number of players. This will give you the rake the room takes off the hands you play. What would you say if I told you that the edge this rake represents can be turned in your favor? You’d like that wouldn’t you?
This is where rakeback comes in. A certain percentage of this rake (usually around 30%) will find its way back to you. Let’s see an actual example for rakeback being calculated: suppose you play a thousand hands at a table with 5 other players where the blinds are 2-4 Dollars. (small- and big blinds respectively).
Using the above presented formula you’ll see that the rake collected on these hands by the house, shall be 333 Dollars. With a rakeback percentage of exactly 30%, you’re bound to receive 100 bucks in rakeback.
The poker room that you play at, is constantly in need of new players. For that, they offer bonuses, and different other incentives but they also keep up relationships with other poker-related websites in the hope that they’ll send their visitors over to play at their room.
These websites are called affiliates, and they do indeed send players over, players who are worth a lot of money in rake for the poker-room.
This is the reason they’ll find no shame in giving these affiliates a slice of the action, that is, a certain set amount of money or a percentage of the rake generated by the players they’ve sent.
This is actually quite a profitable business for the affiliate site, and, as it happens with every good thing, they’ll do most anything to get more of it.
To generate more affiliate action they need more visitors and more players to sign up to the certain poker-room they’re in a relationship with, through their site.
For this, they’ll give up most of the funds they receive from the poker room in favor of the players.
Now then, not all rakeback schemes reward players with exactly 30% value back. Some offer less (27%, others can go as insanely high as 60%).
This basically means that the room will still keep some of his/her rake, but will hand a certain percent of it over to the affiliate website to ‘pay for the player’. Out of this money the affiliate will only keep a small percent for itself as revenue and hand the rest back to its original owner to reward him/her for using his site to sign up.
By taking advantage of some kind of rakeback scheme, the player will be able to literally squeeze more money out of his/her game. As we all know, money not lost is just as sweet as money won.
All of this having been said, you must be aware that there are certain downsides to online poker rakeback as well:
1) Rakeback isn’t God’s gift to lousy players. If your game sucked before getting rakeback it’ll suck after you get it as well. Only, you’ll be able to drag it out longer with the money you receive from rakeback.
2) You need to sign in through an affiliate site. Signing in directly with the poker room itself won’t earn you rakeback. You might get bonuses or other incentives, so you’ll need to carefully weigh in the value of rakeback against these bonuses.
3) The decision to go for rakeback will usually deprive you of the bonuses the poker rooms offer, though if you reckon you’ll be more than just a weekend player, it’ll most probably be worth the trade-in. Plus there are poker rooms that offer incentives even for those who arrive via a rakeback affiliate.
Having realized and tested the potential of this rakeback setup , I managed to finally break out of the no-win no loss, poker for poker’s sake situation I’ve been stuck in for a while.
Emboldened by the early results, and having heard that great poker players also use rakeback to maximize their winnings (at the sheer amount of hands these guys play, the rake can reach quite astonishing sums) soon I realized I needed to take the rakeback-game to the next level.
I went out of my way to locate and make use of the best rakeback offers to take the small edge I managed to obtain even further.
This is how I grew to be aware which the best rakeback offers on the web were, and I came up with a system that allowed me to classify them according to the value they offer to the player.
Quite frankly, I don’t see any reason why other players shouldn’t be able to make use of my findings regarding this little but important technicality.
Head on over to our rakeback review section, where we present a host of rakeback opportunities, all classified and rated, with a poker player’s eye. I reckon it’d be safe to say that any rakeback offer that is better than the ones presented on our site is either fake or it’s simply a sucker-trap.
Never forget: in poker, if you manage not to loose too much, you’ll eventually end up winning. Damage control is an important part of the game, and rakeback is a powerful damage-control tool.