The Omnipotent Rake
Playing poker for the first time, not everyone has a good grip of the relationship between players and poker service providers. It might not be absolutely clear why service providers award their players with so impressive offers in the form of bonuses or rakebacks, which can even evoke distrust in some, since we are all familiar with those special offers and promotions seeming to be tempting at first sight, but turning out to be misleading with the advertised thing completely out-of-reach. In the case of online poker, this is not necessarily so; however, it is worth knowing how the system works.
The Basics: Fee and Rake
Poker service providers have different costs arising from software updating, the wages of employees, security, promotion, etc.; and we should not forget about the simple fact that the owners themselves also need to get by. Thus, for maintenance and quality service and, of course, in the hope of some proit, they charge their players fees.
When it comes to tournaments, fee charging is settled in a way that a certain percentage (ranging from 2 to 20%) is pinched off from the buy-in. This sum is referred to as fee. Cash tables, however, are different from this respect, as players there have an unlimited rebuy, the chips are equivalent to monetary units, and the game can be quited at any time. All these account for the fact that for cash tables, service providers calculate their share on the basis of the current pot, not on the basis of buy-ins. The sum they charge here is called rake.
The rake can range from 1 to 10%. Usually, a maximum rake is used; players would quickly run short of their money in its absence. It can be ten-twenty times the minimum rake. If, for instance, a 5%-rake is charged, it means that after every $10, the dividend of the poker room is half a dollar. If $49 have been put to the pot, the rake is $2. The maximum rake is $10, which is debited only if the pot has reached $200; and over that sum, no dividend is asked for. For the most part, as a further allowance to players, a rake is not required either when the flop does not follow, or when a cut-it-up occurs.
As time passed, the situation of online poker service providers has become quite demanding, since countless online poker rooms, with roughly similar offers, have been opened worldwide. In order to preserve and attract players, different allowances have been figured out. At the dawn of online poker, the no deposit bonus or instant bonus was one of them. In some cases, a deposit was not even a prerequisite for it; players simply got $10 or $20 in exchange for their registration.
After a while, however, it was realized that it is more profitable to make a deposit or in other cases, a previously shown achievement as a prerequisite for the obtaining of bonuses (first deposit bonus, FD and reload bonus, RD). Bonuses can be used up on condition our games produce back the gifted amount many times. In general, the multiplier ranges from 2 to 8, so it definitely matters at which service provider one registers.
Besides the different types of bonuses, there exists the so called rakeback (RB). It is a certain percentage of the rake produced by us in a given month, and it is transferred back to us as a reward of our diligence. This rate mainly ranges from 27% to 35%, but at some places, even better percentages can be achieved if we produce an appropriate amount of rake (€1000 a month can serve as a good base for negotiation). RB is automatically offered to us at some places; elsewhere, we need to ask for it. Certain rooms do not call it rakeback, but a benefit achievable through a particular poker loyalty program; however, it should not deceive us. All benefits given to us by a poker room, let it be a bonus, a rakeback or even a rake race, are based on the rake.
Rake races work on a similar principle as rakebacks without the guarantee of receiving a fixed percentage at the end of the month. Players go in for a race in hope of a bigger refund. The one who produces the most rake during a pre-determined period is entitled to the highest sum. There are small rake races awarding only 10-15 people, but we can also find ones recompensing 100 or even more players. It is more difficult to achieve a good postion at central rake races put out by poker rooms; however, there are promotion pages where it is relatively easy to get into the first five, especially if the race is brand new or has been on only for a few months. It is worth looking for those pages where one can take part in central and locally-advertised races at the same time because we can get hold of remarkable benefits.
Recommended Room: Full Tilt Poker-
Rake chase is a version of rake race. It is not producing the most possible rake during a given period that counts here, but to reach the requested amount of rake as soon as possible. For example, the one who gathers a $1000-worth rake the first, gets $500; those three players who collect a $500 rake the first, get $250, and so on.
Recommended Rooms: Comming Soon
Another version of regular refunds is the so called loyalty program, which generally consists of 5 or 6 levels. The more you play, the more rake you generate, and thus the higher refunds you will be entitled to. Refunds can come in diverse forms: gifts, tournament entries, bonus vouchers or money transferred to your account immediately. Annual refunds are much more profitable than monthly benefits in almost every case; however, they are also harder to get hold of as they require regular playing for an entire year.
We mean special offers generally coming with tournaments and SNG tournaments by them, which are basically similar to a poker challenge: within a determined period of time, we need to go in for a particular number of tournaments or SNGs, and – depending on the places we have obtained – our performance is listed on a leaderboard. The better place we have achieved at the end of a challenge, the bigger reward we can expect.
In the cash version of poker, a previously determined part of the pot goes to the jackpot fund. Winning the jackpot requires the possessing or the losing of a certain card combination (e.g. two red kings) – the latter one is referred to as a bad beat jackpot bonus.
Recommended Room: Party Poker
In the case of SNG tournaments, the jackpot is composed of the increased entry-fee, and it requires the winning of a certain, previously determined number of tournaments.
Whether we would like to obtain some kind of bonus or to participate in a rake race or rake chase, we should always be well-informed in advance about the exact conditions we need to meet. Check if the particular promotion can be merged with other offers and what results the participants of earlier races achieved with their performance. In addition to this, we should prepare a preliminary plan about how much time we will have for playing in the given period, and we should also calculate where we would have optimally finished at the previous race.
During playing, it can be pretty inconvenient to face that the pre-calculated number of tables will not open, or that we cannot find that type of SNG in a particular room which is our greatest strength. It is advisable to follow the same procedure when we pay a deposit for a bonus, or when we take part in a rakeback; we can save ourselves a lot of trouble if we pay attention to every detail.
How Can We Win on Poker?
Formerly, the utmost purpose of players was to increase their profit month by month employing a winning strategy. Naturally, it is not in any other way today, but many do not exclusively or at all make money from winning games. A lot of players have already realized that they can often gain the direct prize many times out of refunds. Hence, it is enough to attempt for an approximate break-even every month; what is more, a moderate loss is affordable, since refunds can often compensate players at the end of the month.
The truth lies somewhere between the two strategies: our aim should be a profitable game; nonetheless, it is helpful if at least one of the above listed refunds is at our disposal as a guarantee. Thus, even if we get into a downswing, the bonuses, rakeback offers or taking part in a rake race can compensate for our accidental loss.