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Enhancing poker returns – Rakeback guide by Johannes Ankelo (napsus)

Playing poker is a lot of fun and it’s a great learning experience in many ways. You can simply play just for fun or get excited about the different strategies involved. If you want dig deeper into the poker strategies, you can learn how to apply game theory to poker, trying to figure out the optimal frequencies of different betting decisions. Poker player can also see himself as an entrepreneur who has to take responsibility of his business and most of all the financial part. Important part of poker player’s business besides developing poker skills and emotional control are rakeback. In this article we will focus on rakeback, which is an often overlooked, but extremely important us additional income that Nutblocker offers for all players. You can find the Nutblocker rakeback offer by clicking this link.

For the purposes of this article, we will call all VIP programs, promotions and rake races collectively as “rakeback” to keep things simple. Rakeback is by definition a return (back) on the tax (rake) you pay to play poker on any online site for real money. Rakeback is essential to a serious grinder.

Poker rooms both online and at the casino take a scaled commission fee of each pot played to support their operations financially. This cut is called “rake”, the word that often sounds like a curse word coming out of a poker player’s mouth. Rakeback is a portion of rake that a player can claim from the poker room through an affiliate. There are different types of rake and rakeback deals, so let’s get deeper into the subject.

See appendix at the end of the article for “How is rake calculated?”

 

How do I sign up for rakeback?

 

To get a rakeback deal, you need to sign up for poker room through an affialiate, such as Nutblocker Rakeback. Nutblocker rakeback is operated with Rakebackpartners in order to provide the players with an efficient, reliable and high quality service. They are the biggest rakeback service provider in the market and offer top-end value promotions for all players. If you sign up directly through the poker room website, you might lose to opportunity to earn rakeback. For old accounts at a poker room it can be difficult to get a new rakeback deal. For the Nutblocker rakeback offers, please click here. For all the current promotions and rake races, please click here.

You can use your VIP points at the poker rooms VIP store to convert your poker VIP points to cash rewards. The prizes from rake races and the deposit bonuses are normally paid directly to your poker account so you only need to play poker to earn those rewards. Please note that some poker rooms deduct things from rake before rakeback is calculated.

The rakeback deals differ from site to site as you can see from the Nutblocker rakeback section. Some sites used to offer flat rakeback, meaning you get a certain fixed percentage of your MGR as rakeback. However this practice is starting to fade away and poker rooms are nowadays offer different kinds of VIP loyalty programs. Depending on the amount of MGR you contribute during the calendar year or monthly, you can reach certain VIP levels by the points you have earned during the specified time period. Each level comes off with a bonus and you can convert the points earned during the year to cash or goods at the VIP store. In short, the more MGR you earn on these sites, the higher your return will be.

 

How much rakeback can I earn?

 

The amount of rakeback you get is directly related to the amount of hands you play on a monthly basis and how much rake per hand you pay. Pokertableratings.com has analyzed the rake per site, you can find the analysis here (link). While the table is not exhaustive, we can use it as a basis for our calculation on the importance of rakeback.

The rule of thumb is that the lower the limit you play, the more (relative) rake you pay and therefore the more important rakeback is. While high stakes players rarely even think about rakeback, it should be an important consideration for micro and low stakes players. This is due to the fact that the relative amount of rake is much bigger in the lower limits. The illustrate this, we have put together a table where you can see how many big blinds per hundred hands (bb/100) do you pay in rake. The same metric, bb/100, is also used for measuring winrates across the stakes and therefore provides a useful tool to analyze the effect of rakeback in your total earnings.

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*the calculation is based on Pokertableratings.com rake site analysis for the rake on Pokerstars. The numbers may be different because of different rake structures, certain playing style (loose vs passive) and other reasons.

The table demonstrates that the micro players have to suffer from the rake the most, having to pay over 25 bb/100 in rake before they can break-even at the tables. In other words, in order to be a 10 bb/100 winner at the tables, the micro player needs to beat the games for 35 bb/100 before the rake whereas a high stakes player only needs to be a 11 bb/100 winner before rake to have the same winrate. Naturally the competition in high stakes is much more fierce and most players are professional poker players, but this example is only to illustrate that rakeback is indeed a valuable piece of the financial puzzle for a low stakes grinder.

As mentioned earlier, the more active grinder you are, the more rakeback you will earn, both in relative and absolute terms. The VIP programs are constructed in a way that your rakeback percentage increases the more you rake. The total return, “rakeback”, often consists of the VIP program, deposit bonus, rake races and other promotions. For illustration purposes we will have a look at what Betfair Poker (IPoker network) offers their clients if you sign through Nutblocker Rakeback:

  • VIP Program with maximum return of 50% (for more details visit Betfair website)
  • First deposit bonus of $2000 that clears at a rate which equivalent to ~25% rakeback.
  • Rake races (via Nutblocker) with average return of ~12%.

…in other words you can earn approximately 72% rakeback return, earning you a nice chunk of extra cash. Keep in mind that this calculation is based on the maximum return from the VIP program, so please inform yourself about the Betfair VIP program to properly estimate your own rate of return. Below you see a graphical illustration of how the different variants (VIP Program, Deposit Bonus and Rake race) affect the total rakeback. The deposit bonus is normally offered for new clients and offers really attractive value up to $2000 return, thereafter the deposit bonus is not in effect anymore.  The more rake you pay, the higher your returns will be. You also need to rake enough to get returns from the rake races, with low volume you will likely not rank high enough to get a prize.

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To illustrate to point from another point of view, this also reduces your effective rake drastically. For example at 50PLO your effective rake is now 4.5 bb/100 instead of the 15.9 bb/100. This means that if you are a break-even grinder at the tables, you are suddenly earning 10 bb/100 with the rakeback! That equals to 10 full buy-ins (100 bb) every 10.000 hands, so it’s something that should take full advantage of and not let this money get away.

This Betfair offer, as well as many others, are available at Nutblocker Rakeback section. All you need to do is to sign up via Nutblocker Rakeback as per instructions and start earning rakeback, it’s very simple! If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via skype name “napsusss”.

 

 

*Appendix

 

How is rake calculated?

 

Rake is the poker room’s main source of revenue it uses to finance its operations. It is charged so that the poker site can keep on organizing the games for the players and improve their software and services. The rake structure and method vary from poker site to poker site, so you need to be aware of the possible implications.

Monthly Gross Revenue (MGR) is calculated by the poker site and it includes the rake you paid. The higher your MGR is, the more you will earn rakeback. Most of the poker rooms calculate the rake using either the Dealt or Contributed method.

Dealt method – As the name Dealt method states, you will earn MGR on the hand if you were dealt cards and the pot was raked. You will not have to contribute a single cent or penny in the pot, all that matters is that you were dealt the cards. Let’s say you are playing a 6-handed table where everyone is dealt hand and the pot is raked $1.20, each player will earn $1.20/6 = $0.20 MGR for this hand.

MGR is calculated: (Amount raked) / (Players dealt in hand)

Weighted contributed method – You need to be dealt and a hand and you need to contribute in the pot in order to earn MGR in Weigted contributed method. The MGR is calculated in direct proportion to the amount of money you have contributed to the pot. MGR is calculated by:

((Amount contributed to the pot) / ($ Amount of pot) * ($ Amount raked)

In other words, the looser you play and the more you contribute to each pot, the more rake you will play and the more rakeback you will earn.

Ongame network has introduced their own method for calculating MGR and it’s called the Essence rake system. It’s a real time algorithm that measures the value of players by factoring in style of play and relative performance in the last 90 active days. The problem of the Essence system is that it is not possible to figure out how many Ongame player points you will earn, which are the basis for rakeback calculation. Normally 8 points are worth $1 but that is meaningless if you don’t know how many points you will get for certain amount of rake. The Essence system also favors losing players to winning players. This means that losing players receive more rakeback in terms of percentage than the winning players. This helps the weaker players to stay in the games and provide you with more rakeback if you are running bad.

Which of the rake methods is suitable for you? Firstly, this should not be your main consideration when choosing a poker room to play on, there are more important issues such as traffic, quality of players, support, reliability of the site etc. That being said the Dealt method normally favors the tighter players since you won’t have to contribute any money to the pot in order to gain MGR. The weighted contributed method is more favorable for a loose player who plays pots actively and therefore contributes to a higher number of pots, such as heads up play.

Most of the poker rooms nowadays operate with (or some variation of) the weighted contributed method.

For more information about the rake methods and calculations etc. please contact the respective poker room directly or ask our in-house Nutblocker specialists.

 

About Johannes Ankelo

Johannes Ankelo
Johannes "napsus" Ankelo recently left his work as an investment banker to follow his dream to become a professional poker player. The first times he played cards for money was way back in 1998 when he started playing "sökö" (Finnish 5 card stud) with basketball teammates. Nowadays he plays PLO mostly on Ipoker but can also be caught playing the deep ante tables at Pokerstars, his favorite variant of PLO. He is a moderator of the PLO subforums on 2+2, the biggest poker forum on the internet. Johannes is a Nutblocker member, mainly focusing on helping players with rakeback related issues. He can be contacted via Skype for any rakeback related issues under the Skype ID "napsusss". Twitter: @napsuss