Most online players start their poker careers by simply playing for fun and not worrying about things like rakeback or more advanced strategy.
It’s only over time when players get more serious that they start investigating rakeback offers and other ways to maximize their profits from playing online poker.
For some players, dipping their toes into the waters of getting rakeback leads to a very different poker path, evolving into what is commonly referred to as being a “rakeback pro.”
What is Rakeback?
To understand rakeback you have to understand rake. Online poker rake is a percentage that poker sites take from every real-money pot (it’s how the sites make money).
Usually it’s quite small and only kicks in if a pot exceeds a certain amount (such as a dollar). Rakeback is the simple re-distribution of those funds to loyal players. For example with 10% rakeback you get 10% of your rake back from the games you are playing in.
It may not seem like much but it can mean the difference between making a profit and not if you are just a break-even player. Rakeback is obviously something that’s appealing to most poker players looking to earn more money.
Can I Get Rakeback for Tournaments and Sit & Go’s?
Yes. Rakeback works in any form of poker where you spend real money.
The difference is that in tournaments online poker sites collect a pre-determined amount known as a tournament registration fee.
That’s why tournaments and Sit & Go’s are usually displayed like $1+$.20 (in this case the tournament fee is $.20).
Sit & Go’s are actually one of the best ways to generate large amounts of rakeback because you are frequently buying into tournaments and paying tournament fees.
What is a Rakeback Pro?
Rakeback pros are a new breed in the world of poker, as they’re really only possible in the world of online poker where players can play 24+ tables simultaneously.
The first rakeback pros were largely Sit 'n Go players, who realized that their ability to play dozens of Sit 'n Gos at a single time could translate into big profits - even if they didn’t profit that much from their actual play at the poker tables.
Cash-game players got on the rakeback pro bandwagon shortly thereafter, discovering that the ability to multi-task and juggle dozens of tables at a time could equate to some pretty massive payouts to their rakeback accounts at the end of the month - again, even if they didn’t show a dime in profit from their actual poker play.
It's a counterintuitive idea for most poker players, as the first thing you’re taught is that success at the poker table is walking away with more money than you started with. For rakeback pros, though, it’s a completely different story.
Why Doesn’t Every Poker Site Have Rakeback?
Rakeback IS pretty great but it’s important to know there are many different ways that online poker sites try to incentivize their players.
For instance there are some sites that don’t offer rakeback but they DO offer a rewards program that actually trumps rakeback.
Rewards programs usually work by giving you frequent player points based on the amount of rake you pay. Those points can be traded in for merchandise, tournament tickets or cold hard cash.
Other sites offer poker bonuses just for signing up that are actually more valuable in the long run if you don’t plan on putting in huge volume.
In other words don’t write a site off simply because it doesn’t offer rakeback.
In addition you should pay special attention to sites that offer huge amounts of rakeback like 40%+ or higher because they are most-likely struggling to attract players.
Break-Even Day = Good Day with Rakeback
For rakeback pros it’s a good day at the tables if they break even and an average day if they book a small loss. Their real profits come from playing a huge number of hands or tournaments in a given month, as the rakeback they receive can be very substantial.
Rakeback essentially works out to being paid a very small amount of money for every hand you play (regardless of whether you win or lose the hand). The more hands you play, the more you can make.
Even if you play relatively low stakes of .50/$1 or $1/$2 cash games, if you can handle playing 24 tables at a time and put in 5 or 6 hours a day, you could make $7,000-$8,000/month in rakeback alone.
With sums like that involved, breaking even suddenly isn’t that terrible a proposition - especially if you adopt a straightforward style and stick to lower stakes that reduce the swings and variance you’ll encounter.
Life as a rakeback pro might not be that exciting (and not the best way to improve your poker game over time) as you’re typically employing the same ABC strategy and way of playing hands over and over and over, but big rakeback payments at the end of the month can make up for a lot of boredom.