In the early days of online poker, rakeback was all the craze. It was a way for winning poker players to turn an extra profit, a way for breakeven players to become consistent winners, and a way for losing players to slow the bleed while they tweaked their game. In today’s post-Black Friday online poker climate, rakeback still exists. But it’s not as prevalent and sometimes, it exists in different forms. If you’re wondering what it is, how to get a poker rakeback deal, and if it’s worthwhile, you’ve come to the right place.
Best Rakeback Online Poker Sites
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If you’re on the hunt for the best sites for rakeback poker currently available in your area, you’re in luck. The list we’ve provided above is an up-to-date listing of the top rakeback online poker sites. When looking through these listings, remember that rakeback isn’t always referred to by its classic name. Most of the time, now, rakeback programs are masked as frequent player point (FPP) programs or VIP rewards programs.
What makes these the best rakeback deals online? Several things.
- All of these rakeback poker sites are actively running rakeback programs or variants.
- Each of these programs is available to all players and not just a select few.
- The percentage returns are some of the highest in the industry.
- Each online poker site pays out rakeback on a regular schedule (reliably).
- Winnings checks come fast without unnecessary hoops to jump through.
- All of these poker sites with the highest rakeback percentages are regularly vetted by our staff for safety, security, and reliability.
What Is Rakeback in Online Poker?
When you play online poker, the house (the poker site) takes a cut of each tournament buy-in and each cash game pot. This cut is often known as the rake, the juice, or the house’s cut. It’s the fee that you pay for the ability to play in the game. This not only happens at every single online poker site, but it also happens in every single brick and mortar poker room in the country.
Rake is how the poker rooms make money and keep the lights on. In the early days of online poker, operators needed high-volume players that were willing to sit on the site and start games. Otherwise, the tables might sit empty, as recreational players like to play at full tables and not start games two or three-handed. The idea was to pay some players to play long hours and start games to keep traffic going on the site.
Instead of paying these players a salary, they were paid in rakeback. The players were given a percentage of the money they generated in rakeback as payment for their services. The process worked well.
Two rakeback players might sit at a full nine-handed poker table and start playing heads up with each other. It wouldn’t take long for other players looking for action to join the table. Before you knew it, the two rakeback players had successfully started a full table that was generating a good profit for the online poker site. It was also great for players because it ensured action was always going.
Once the full table was going, some real money rakeback agreements required players to get up and go start new tables. Just one or two rakeback players could turn an empty online poker room into several full games in a matter of minutes.
The rakeback percentages players earned varied based on the particular deal. Percentages start at as low as a few percents but poker sites with the highest rakeback percentages can reach up to 100%! It just depended on what the company was trying to achieve and how aggressively they wanted to get there. Standard deals were around the 30% – 40% mark. This meant that even if a table were full of rakeback players, the online poker site would still be making money.
As more and more people found out about rakeback, “getting a poker rakeback deal” became less of a thing. Instead of there being perks just for a few game starters, US poker sites began offering rakeback through third parties to all players who were interested. It became a competitive perk that any player playing any decent amount of volume had to get to maximize earnings.
There were still some specialty deals kept aside for game starters following a strict set of rules, but these became rarer.
The Many Names of Rakeback in Online Poker
As mentioned, rakeback has many names. Additionally, there are plenty of programs that mirror the benefits of rakeback. If you’re confused, buckle up, and we’ll break it down for you.
Rakeback is a way for players to get rewarded for their play. It’s a way for you to get rewarded for the level of volume you play. Instead of just getting a poker rakeback deal one time, you get rewarded consistently and in direct correlation to the number of tournaments or hands you’re playing.
Here are some of the ways that online poker sites are rewarding players for their loyalty.
Deposit and Reload BonusesWhen you join United States online poker sites, you may have the opportunity to cash in on a deposit bonus. With most poker sites with the highest rakeback percentages, you're not going to get all of your money upfront. It's going to be released to you over time based on how much you play. The more you play, the more of your bonus is cleared. The more your bonus gets cleared, the more cash you get.
Additionally, deposit bonuses may be available to existing players as reload bonuses. The premise is the same with the only difference being that it’s for players who already have accounts.
Deposit and reload bonuses are forms of rakeback that are limited in time and based on the money that you put onto the site.
Frequent Player PointsThe closest mainstream bonus to classic rakeback are frequent player points (FPPs). Different online poker sites will call these different things, but the premise is the same. You earn points for the rake that you generate. The more you play, the more FPP you earn.
Now, how you can use these FPPs is fully dependent on the online poker site you choose. If the site allows cash conversion, then you have a full rakeback program operating under a different name. If you’re only allowed to convert your FPPs to tournament buy-ins, it's still a rakeback program but just with a lot less flexibility. The least flexible FPP programs will only let you turn in your points for swag or gear. Yes, this is still a form of rakeback but a severely limited one.
VIP Rewards ClubsFPP programs are generally rolled into a tiered VIP rewards club. Often, the rate at which you earn FPPs and the rate at which you can covert the points will vary based on your VIP level. Earning higher VIP tier levels is done by playing more poker.
So, in other words, VIP rewards clubs are tiered rakeback programs. These programs are great for higher volume players because the more you play, the higher your earning and conversion rates. This means that your growth will be closer to an exponential curve as you play more rather than linear.
Traditional RakebackGood old-fashioned rakeback operating under the name rakeback does still exist at some online US poker sites. It's a bit harder to find and often comes with grinder-heavy player pools. Additionally, you may be able to find classic rakeback programs at newer online poker sites looking to drive more traffic. While these can be highly profitable, you do have to take on more risk. Newer online poker sites not backed by bigger names may be riskier when it comes to security and company longevity.
Leaderboard ChallengesSome real money online poker sites will run challenges and leaderboards that reward players for more play. One of the most popular examples of this you see is with sit and go tournaments. For a week or a month, players will earn points for every SNG they play in or cash in. At the end of the challenge period, the players with the most points will win some form of prize (often cash). Again, this is a reward for playing higher volume that's paid back from money the poker site has earned.
How Is Rakeback Calculated?
There are two main ways that rakeback is calculated—weighted contributed and dealt or shared. Out of the two, weighted contributed is the most common, though, you may still find rakeback poker sites that have newer and less developed programs using dealt or shared.
Understanding how to get a poker rakeback deal and how each method is calculated is important to determine what the best rakeback deals online are for you.
The most common way that rakeback is calculated is through the weighted contributed method. With this method, your rakeback payment is based on the amount of money you put into a pot. This method is the best for more active players, as you’ll be getting heavily rewarded for being in more pots. On the flip side, less-active or tighter players will see less rewards here than with the dealt or shared method.
Here’s an example of how this method works at the best sites for rakeback poker.
- You earn 35% rakeback under the weighted contributed method.
- The online poker site takes a 5% rake from every cash game pot, whether there is a flop or not.
- You’re currently playing at a single nine-handed $1 to $2 table.
You’re dealt two cards in middle position. The action fold to you, and you decide to raise to $7. Action folds to the small blind who calls and the big blind who also calls. As of now, there is $21 in the pot.
The flop comes out and you elect to bet $12. The small blind folds, and the big blind calls. There’s now $45 in the pot. You both check the turn and the river, and the hand goes to showdown. Your opponent wins the hand.
Without rakeback, you would be down $19 on this hand. But, with rakeback, you’re going to get a little bit of that back. The poker room takes a 5% cut on the hand. 5% of $45 is $2.25.
Now, to figure out how much of that $2.25 you get with your rakeback deal, you need to look at how much money you put into the pot. You put $7 preflop and $12 on the flop for a total of $19. 5% of the $19 you contributed is $0.95. The online poker site earned $0.95 off of you on this hand.
But your rakeback deal says that you get 35% of that back. So, 35% of $0.95 is $0.33. For this hand under the weighted contributed method, you would get $0.33 rakeback. It might not seem like much, but remember that you’re often playing hundreds of hands an hour and thousands of hands a day. You will get rakeback on every hand you’re in, whether you win the hand or not.
Dealt or Shared
The less popular and more archaic form of determining rakeback payments is the dealt or shared method. With this method, you earn an equal share of the rakeback as long as you are dealt into the hand. It doesn’t matter if you put a penny into the pot or not. If you’re sitting there and getting cards, you are getting paid.
Let’s take our prior example but look at it with the dealt and shared method. The online poker room earned $2.25 in rake from the pot. With nine players dealt into the hand, each player will get $2.25/9 = $0.25. For the hero (you), that is less than you got under the other method of calculation. However, for the players at the table that folded, it’s a dream. They didn’t have to put any money into the pot and are going to be getting a quarter back.
As you can see, this method is much better for passive and tighter players. However, many would argue it is less fair to all players, which is the reason these poker rakeback deals at online casinos are rare to find these days.
Pros of Rakeback Online Poker Sites
Playing at rakeback poker sites that accept US customers carries a lot of benefits for players of different skill levels. Here are some of those major pros.
You Can Break Even and Still Turn a Profit
If you sit down with $100 and play for a few hours and get up with that same $100, you would say that you broke even. However, with rakeback, you’ve got a payment coming at the end of the day, week, or month that is pure profit. If you’re a breakeven player, you will be a profitable player without any changes to your game thanks to rakeback.
It Rewards Higher Volume Players
While you will get rakeback money regardless of how much volume you play, the real rewards are for higher-volume players. A nickel, dime, or quarter every hand might not seem like much until you extrapolate that out over thousands of hands. Many high-volume grinders make thousands of dollars every month from rakeback payments.
Additionally, if you’re playing at an online poker website that increases rakeback rates and conversion rates as you move up the VIP tiers, it’s just more good news for higher volume players.
You’ll Have Regular Action From Other Grinders
The best sites for rakeback poker have extensive programs often have grinders playing around the clock. While this might not be ideal if those grinders are more skilled than you, it can be a welcomed sign if you’re better at poker than the average bear.
Cons of Online Rakeback Poker Sites
While extra cash is always a positive, there are some reasons that you may not want to play at a real money rakeback poker site. Keep in mind that these are directed at the classic form of rakeback and less at the new hybrid programs operating under different names.
You’ll Have Regular Action From Other Grinders
This is either a positive or a negative based on how skilled of a player you are. If you’re playing at an online poker site that is heavily driven by rakeback players, you’re going to find the games to be a lot tougher. While there should still be some recreational fish, it’s not unlikely at off-peak hours to see tables fully filled with grinders trying to make a living.
It Can Mask Problems With Your Poker Game
The worst thing you can do in your poker career is become content. The second you stop learning and improving is the second the game starts to pass you by. Breakeven players who are getting hefty rakeback checks have a bad tendency to become complacent in their studies. They figure that the rakeback check is enough cash to keep them happy, as long as they keep breaking even.
There are three problems with this.
- If you ever lose your poker rakeback deals at online casinos, you are back to being a breakeven player.
- If the players start getting better than you (they choose to keep improving), you may become a losing player even with rakeback.
- You’re leaving money on the table. Rakeback should be treated as an added bonus and not your only source of income.
It Can Tempt You To Play Differently
Tighter players may be tempted to loosen up a bit to get more involved in pots and generate more rake. While this may work for some, it could drastically ruin the games of others. Again, rakeback should always be an afterthought to a long-term winning poker strategy.
Wrap Up on Rakeback Poker Deals Online
If you’re looking to get some rakeback action at an online poker site, you do have option. While the programs might be rarer under the classic name, they do exist under different guises. Ultimately, if you’re getting extra money in response to the volume of your poker play then you’re doing it right. To get started, check out some of the top rakeback online poker sites and deals listed in this guide.