Internet poker rewards its best customers the same way any retail store would with what is known as rakeback. When you are shopping, the more you spend, the more opportunities you will be offered in the future so that your business will always come back. It is a basic example of how a business spends money to make money.
Every time you buy into a tournament online, you post an entry fee to the house. For example, a $10 sit-n-go tournament would also require $1 that the house keeps as rake. For the cash games that run all day, the house may keep 3% of every pot without ever exceeding $3. If you play a $50 pot, the house will retain $1.50. Well what rakeback does is it refunds you a portion of all of the money you paid to the house, usually on a month to month basis. The site keeps track of how much rake you have paid, and at the end of the month, you receive your bonus. If your site gives you 30% rakeback and you paid out $5,000, you get a nice rebate of $1,500.
Because of this hefty rebate, this resulted in the emergence of “rakeback grinders”. Plenty of people played a lot of online poker to begin with, but now with the addition of this tremendous incentive, it resulted in them playing that much more. Poker has never been a game that promises you anything. It can make no difference how sensible you are. There is enough short term luck involved to leave anybody feeling like the lowest sap on earth.
Rakeback literally takes on the form of a paycheck. If you played poker with absolutely no exceptional advancement, and net profited yourself $0.00 for an entire month, but generated $10,000 in rake to the site, with a 30% rakeback deal, you still make $3,000 just for showing up and playing. Of course if you are a competent and winning player, rakeback just makes everything that much sweeter. But the fact that you don’t even have to be good enough to win money from other players was a massive change for Internet poker. And it makes sense to do. When you play poker in the casinos, you are offered comps for food or given reduced rates to stay at the hotel. Neither of these things are applicable online, but you should still get something for all the time you are putting in.
Getting signed up
Rakeback is something you have to go out and get for yourself. Not all of the poker sites leave the offers out there for everyone to see. If you are playing at one site or multiple sites that do not tell their players about rakeback, contact them and ask about what kind of deal you can get. You have to do your own negotiating. It is also important to have an understanding of what deals are available. There are numerous poker forums that discuss rakeback. From here you can see who pays the most, and which deals best fit your needs.
Some sites do let it be known that they offer rakeback, but it may entail that you first earn a certain number of points with the site before you receive any rebate. In this scenario it is like any other business where you only receive loyal treatment once you have established yourself as a loyal customer. But it varies by the site. Some will not require you earn an initial number of points. Hence the value of educating yourself about what each site does.
Sometimes poker affiliate sites may offer you a deal on rakeback. These are a bit iffy. They could end up paying out as promised, but the problem with it is they could make a deal with you without even knowing which poker site you belong to. They may offer you a smaller percentage of something you could have negotiated on your own. If the site learns of what is going on, they might respond by closing out your account. Clearly there is the potential for some shadiness, so the best way to go about things is communicating directly with the site.
Also, do not confuse cash back bonus offers with rakeback. Rakeback is great because it pays you for every dollar you make for the site. There are no checkpoints. If your deal is 30%, then you get 30% transferred directly into your again regardless if you earned the site $1,000 or $50. Cash back deals do not work this way. That is when there is essentially a checkpoint. You must play a certain amount, earn a set number of points, and then you are entitled to your bonus. You trade in your bonus points for cash, therefore trading away anything else you might have been interested in using them for, like entering into a tournament or buying some of the site’s apparel.