Poker sites can get prickly over the use of the word "rakeback", so let's start by explaining what we mean.
- a free $55 tournament ticket is worth $55
- a $100 freeroll that averages 1,000 entrants is worth 10¢
We make logical assumptions over which benefits you will receive and which you will ignore. It's safe to assume if you generate thousands of dollars a year in tournament fees, then you do not waste your time grinding freerolls worth 2¢! We divide the total reward value by the amount of rake & fees paid to come up with an "equivalent rakeback" figure that allows us to make an apples to apples comparison of all online poker sites.
Equivalent Rakeback = the total cash value of all rewards divided by the total amount of rake and fees paid
There is a True Poker rakeback program as well as an ACR rakeback deal, both of which reward 27% rakeback. As you will see once we get into the analysis, these programs are best if you generate less than $18,200/year in rake and tournament fees. If you are interested in joining either of these programs, simply click on one of the banners below. You cannot sign up for the ACR rakeback or True Poker rakeback programs on either of the official websites.
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True Poker & Americas Cardroom Elite Benefits
By participating in the Elite Benefits program on the Winning Poker Network you can earn two different rewards:
- Up to 40% cashback from VIP status levels
- Over $147,000 from Achievement rewards
If you generate more than $18,200/year in rake and fees, then you will earn far more equivalent rakeback from the Elite Benefits program than from the 27% rakeback deals.
Rakeback Cash Rewards from VIP Status Levels
For every $1 you contribute in rake or tournament fees, you will earn 5.5 Benefit Points (called Rank Points on Americas Cardroom). Benefit Points (BPs) are used solely to determine status levels. Depending on status level, you will earn between 1 and 5 Player Points (called Combat Points on ACR) for every BP. Player Points can be exchanged for cash rewards. The higher your status level, the better the exchange rate, so status levels are doubly important (more points per $1, plus a better exchange rate from those points).
|Benefit Points||Status (True / ACR)||PP / BP||PPs||Cash||PPs/$1||Cashback|
|0||Player / Lieutenant||1.0||-||-||-||0%|
|750/month||Rounder / Captain||1.5||4,500||$50||90.00||9.2%|
|3,000/month||Grinder / Major||2.0||25,000||$300||83.33||13.2%|
|7,500/month||Veteran / Colonel||2.5||50,000||$600||83.33||16.5%|
|100,000/year||Legend / General||3.5||250,000||$4,000||62.50||30.8%|
|1,000,000/year||Icon / 5* General||5.0||625,000||$10,000||62.50||44.0%|
For example, in order for a Rounder / Captain to earn 4,500 Player Points, you must earn 3,000 Benefit Points (4,500 / 1.5). To earn 3,000 Benefit Points, you must generate $546 in rake or fees (3,000 / 5.5). This results in a weak 9.2% cashback ($50 / $546).
By contrast, for an Icon level player to earn the $4,000 cash reward, you must generate 50,000 Benefit Points (250,000 / 5.0), which requires $9,091 in rake or fees (5,000 / 5.5), for an impressive 44% cashback ($4,000 / $9,091).
ACR & True Poker Achievement Rakeback Rewards
As you hit certain Benefit/Rank point milestones throughout the year, you will receive a cash achievement reward. There are two tiers of Achievement rewards. The first is for the monthly status levels. True Poker calls these Achievement Rewards, while ACR calls them Medals of Achievement. The second tier starts once you earn enough status points to earn the yearly status levels (100,000) and is called Legendary Bonuses at True Poker and Levels of Distinction at Americas Cardroom.
Achievement rewards do not cost you any points; they are simply unlocked by reaching those milestones. While the rewards may seem small (it takes $137 to earn the first $10 bonus, for a measly 7.3% return), they are in addition to the VIP status rewards. Thus, a Rounder level player can expect to earn 16.5% equivalent rakeback (9.2% from cash rewards, plus 7.3% from achievement rewards). Obviously, this is less than you would earn from the 27% rakeback program, so let's figure out when it is better to enroll instead in the Elite Benefits program.
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Elite Benefits versus Rakeback
In order to generate 95,000 Benefit Points in a year, you must contribute $17,273 in rake and fees. Assuming you play roughly the same amount each month, you will achieve Veteran/Colonel status (95,000 / 12 = 7,917 BPs/month). This status level rewards you with 2.5 Player Points per Benefit Point, for a total of 237,500 Player Points (95,000 x 2.5). You can then exchange these at a rate of 50,000 for $600 for a total cash reward of $2,850. You will also earn $1,000 in achievement rewards, for a total of $3,850. However, this is just 22.3% equivalent rakeback, so you would be better off on the rakeback program!
To earn the Legend / General status level, you must contribute $18,182 in rake and/or tournament fees. In your first year, you would achieve Veteran/Colonel status (100,000 / 12 months = 8,333 BP/month), which rewards 2.5 Player Points for each Benefit Point, for a total of 250,000 Player Points (100,000 x 2.5). Upon achieving Legend/General status, you can exchange these points for $4,000. You will also earn a total of $1,200 in achievement rewards, for a total of $5,200 in rewards, which is 28.6% equivalent rakeback, and thus better than the rakeback program. After achieving Legend/General status, you will earn 3.5 Players Points for each Benefit Point, so if you generate the same rake the following year, you will earn 100,000 more Player Points (worth another $1,600 in cash rewards), increasing your equivalent rakeback to 37.4%!
Players who generate more than $18,182/year in rake and fees will earn significantly more equivalent rakeback from the Winning Poker Network's Elite Benefits than they would from their rakeback program.
Click either of the banners below to join that site's Elite Benefits program.
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Bonus Rakeback for Tight Cash Game Players
Both True Poker and Americas Cardroom use the Dealt Rake method for awarding status points. In this method, all players who are dealt into a hand are awarded the same number of status points, regardless of how much rake they actually contribute. As a result, tight players (who contribute less rake than average) actually receive significantly more status points for each $1 of rake they actually contribute.
This is incredibly significant, because it means that you are able to receive the same benefits for less cost. Above we said that earning Legend/General status requires 100,000 Benefit Points, which requires $18,182 in contributed rake or fees. However, this assumes you are contributing an average amount of rake. If you contribute 25% less rake than the average player, then you would earn the same benefits by contributing just $13,637 in rake and fees (since you are getting 5.5 Benefit Points for every $0.75 of rake actually contributed). You would still receive $4,000 from VIP status cashback rewards, plus $1,200 in achievement rewards, increasing your total equivalent rakeback from 28.6% to 38.1% ($5,200/$13,637)!
In all analysis throughout this article, we assume that you will contribute the average amount of rake. However, most winning players contribute less rake than average, which means that your rakeback percentages will actually be even higher than those listed here!
However, we are still a long way off of the promised 162% equivalent rakeback. This is where the Winning Poker Network's most amazing promotion comes in...
The Beast - Poker's Best Online Rake Race
Every week, cash game players compete for thousands of dollars in cash prizes in the Winning Poker Network's signature cash game rake race, The Beast. The top finishers on the weekly leaderboard receive $2,500 in cash by the following Monday. The Beast pays hundreds of places and typically awards in excess of $50,000 each week! The Beast is funded from the rake, so there is no extra charge to compete, and since the Winning Poker Network has one of the lowest rake structures online, it's not as if they're padding the rake to fund this amazing promotion.
The best thing about The Beast is that it's not that difficult to finish in the money. Simply generate $180 in rake* in a week and you will win a $55 tournament ticket at least half the time. Generate $200/week in rake* and you should win a $55 tournament ticket every week. That's a whopping 27.5% equivalent rakeback. Add that to the 27% rakeback you are earning from either True Poker's or ACR's rakeback program and you are earning a tidy 54.5% equivalent rakeback! It's easy to see why we consider Americas Cardroom and True Poker to be two of the best online poker rooms!
*Some stakes are more efficient than others, but more on this in another article
We have reviewed many weeks worth of data to determine just how much rake you would need to generate to win each of the prizes. We then add this to the other rewards from either the rakeback program or the VIP Status and Achievement rewards to determine your total equivalent rakeback. Since this article is about maximizing rakeback, we have assumed that you will play the most rakeback efficient stakes (2¢/5¢ to 10¢/25¢). In a future article we will discuss whether or not you should be playing higher stakes, which will be less rakeback efficient, but will make it easier to rank highly in the weekly rake race.
This rake race is so profitable for serious online poker professionals, that you can earn more than 100% rakeback from The Beast alone! If you can generate $2,200/week in rake by playing 5¢/10¢ and 10¢/25¢ (no small feat), you will earn enough points to top The Beast poker leaderboard, and win $2,500 in cash, plus a $55 tournament ticket. That's 116% equivalent rakeback, and that's not even counting the achievement rewards and player points that you can exchange for cash rewards!
Sit & Crush - A Rake Race for Sit & Go Players
If you prefer tournaments to cash games, you can compete in Sit & Crush, the Winning Poker Network's signature sit-and-go rake race. For every $1 collected in tournament fees from all Sit & Go and On Demand tournaments, 25% is used to fund the Sit & Crush weekly rake race. Just like with The Beast, there is no extra fee, nor are the tournament fees any higher than other online poker sites.
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Unlike The Beast, there is no cap on the amount collected, so there isn't an optimal entry fee to maximize your rakeback. Well, they do some odd rounding but it's negligible (for example, an 11¢ fee contributes 3¢ to Sit & Crush, which is 27.3%, whereas a 25¢ fee contributes 6¢, which is 24%).
For every $1 you contribute towards the Sit & Crush prize pool, you earn 5 points. By reviewing many weeks worth of data, we have calculated just how much you need to pay in fees in order to earn each of the prizes. Although you cannot generate more than 100% rakeback by playing SNGs on True Poker or Americas Cardroom, you can get pretty damn close! Less hardcore players can also achieve very high rakeback percentages at lower volumes than cash players can. For example, a Sit & Go player can earn as much as 82% rakeback with annual fees of just $9,500. A cash game player would need to generate $27,000 in rake/year to get 78% rakeback.
Although The Beast offers the opportunity to earn more than 100% rakeback, all but the most hardcore cash game grinders would earn more rakeback by competing in Winning Poker Network's Sit & Crush rake race.
Are you Saying I Can't Lose?
Rake is what the poker sites charge you to play. While rake and tournament fees will clearly have an impact on your win-rate, they are not the biggest factor. The largest factors for whether or not you will win are:
- luck (short-term factor)
- skill (long-term factor)
If you are generating $110,000/year in rake, then you can expect around 162% rakeback. This means that you would get back all of your paid rake ($110,000), plus get an additional $68,200 on top! If you are a winning poker player, then this is bonus cash. However, if you are a losing player, then this will simply offset some of your losses.
To become a winning poker player, you need to study. Depending on whether you prefer 6-max, live poker, or tournaments, there are some great poker workbooks that can help you improve your game.
Is This Legal?
You might think that the only way to get more than 100% rakeback from an online poker site is by cheating the system, exploiting some loophole, or violating the terms of service, which would get you banned. After all, what kind of business would willingly give you 162% return on your investment?
The biggest portion of the equivalent rakeback rewards that you can earn comes from The Beast (or Sit & Crush). These prize pools are funded by the rake/fees. These sites are not returning the money you spent, plus interest - they are giving the top few hundred players each week a percentage of their profits (25% in the case of Sit & Go players). As we said before, these sites aren't padding the rake to fund these promotions either. The Winning Poker Network offers some of the lowest rake structures available online!
So how does paying 162% equivalent rakeback help these sites? Their hope is that more and more players become aware of these amazing rake races and start to compete in them. For every $1 awarded in the Sit & Crush, the site is making $3 (some of which is returned to the player as Achievement Rewards, sign-up bonus, rakeback, or VIP cashback), so the more players they can get playing, the more money they make. It's the very definition of a win-win scenario!
What's even more amazing is that the players who aren't finishing high enough in The Beast and Sit & Crush leaderboards aren't getting screwed. While it's true that these players are funding your rewards, they're still being treated better than they would be on most other online poker sites thanks to the 27% rakeback deal (a higher percentage than they could earn on most other sites).
- Casual players win thanks to a higher than normal rakeback percentage
- The sites win with a growing population (and profits), and
- Hardcore players win by earning more than 100% equivalent rakeback!
No doubt this fantastic approach is the reason that the Winning Poker Network has continued to grow while other online poker networks have been steadily losing players.