Incentive programs can make a difference to your poker bankroll. In such a competitive industry like poker, poker rooms often have good incentives to win your business. I remember when I was grinding at the L.A Commerce Casino a few years back all my meals were what they call ‘comped’, or basically free. This sort of thing is definitely worth taking into consideration when it comes to your bankroll, as is the rake taken by the house.

When it comes to the competitive online market, bonuses and loyalty plans can even go as far as to alter the room and game a player chooses to play. Currently the rake, that is the fee payed by each player at the table per hand or per tournament at Pokerstars is around 4.5% of the pot in cash games and for tournaments around 10% of the tournament buy-in (for more details on Pokerstars rake visit here

Rakeback is a returned amount of the rake payed by the player. This returned amount usually comes in the form of loyalty points which can be used to purchase cash bonuses or gifts in aVIP store. If you intend to do serious volume it’s a good idea to make sure the room you play at has an option to exchange your accrued loyalty points for cash, since the items on offer might not be of value to you.


Rakeback %’s for MTT/SNG/SH by tier at Pokerstars.

It’s also important to keep in mind how rewards alter based on the volume you put in at the tables. Rooms often increase their rakeback amount as players reach higher VIP tiers. You can see here Pokerstars average rackback percentages which represents a typical online loyalty system, encouraging players to play more to attain higher levels.

What does all this mean to a Poker Bankroll?


Prolific SNG player and frequenct SNE, ‘masur0n1ke’ can play over 200 Hyper SNG’s in a session!

Since there’s so much variance in the game of poker, it’s nice to know we can count on rakeback as a handy bonus. Some players take rakeback so seriously it goes beyond being a handy bonus and is the main form of income. Well renound for this are Pokerstars Super Nova Elite players. Many of these players actually even lose on the tables but put in so much volume that bonuses offset the loses and instead they walk away with a good income. Keep in mind however we are talking about serious volume for this to be possible and it needs to be thoroughly explored before being considered as an option (you can explore the possibilities using Pokerstars VPP calculator here). It’s difficult to maintain SNE both in terms of ability and physically since it requires such devoted play.

An example of rakeback from the $2 months $40K MTT Challange

Kelvin ‘Acesup’ Beattie played 680 tournaments on Pokerstars in December. This was a fairly serious schedule which amounted to 24 days of play at an average buy-in level of $57. $2,786 was paid in rake which equates to a return of around $1031. That’s over $250 a week added to the poker bankroll which is certainly worth factoring in.

If your roll is more modest and your spending a lot less at the tables, then although the amount may work out to be a lot less than this it’s still going to be significant to your roll since it’s a smaller sum your using.

If you are interested in this lower variance form of income, then usually short handed cash games, particularly PLO, and SNG’s, particularly hyper turbos, are good choices. However keep in mind the reason why you are being rewarded at a faster rate at these games is because the house is earning more money. This in turn can make the games tough to beat. In the case of hyper turbos, these games take such a short time to play that players sometimes play over 100 in a day. This attributes to a lot of rake being paid, hence the extra rewards.

Getting the Most out of Poker Bonuses and Rewards

When starting with online poker sites,  the poker rooms often advertise generous poker bonuses and rewards. The most common is a ‘Match


Poker rooms typically offer deposit ‘match’ bonuses.

Bonus’ where the room will equal the amount you deposit. The catch is you need to spend time at the table playing and usually this match amount is released in small increments. It’s still however, usually quite a good bonus. Unfortunately this only last a short while as it’s a sign-up bonus, however you should still keep your eye out for reoccurring bonuses you can take advantage of. Frequently rooms offer reload bonuses. Even with a healthy roll, top it up further to cash in on these bonuses.

Since loyalty points can be cashed in for various items and cash bonuses, it’s important to realize what items actually return the best value. For example some items might be over priced in he shop, and even when it comes to cash bonuses, generally larger purchases equate to a better loyalty point to real money value. At Pokerstars, you can purchase the following cash bonuses.

$10 for 1,000 points ($1 = 100 points).

$1,600 for 100,000 points ($1 =  62.5 points).

Clearly we can see more value per point from holding out for the bigger bonus. In fact the value per point is 0.1 of a cent for the $10 reward but 0.16 cents for the $1,600 reward.  Of course it might not be always practical depending on the stakes you play if it’s going to take an extremely long time to reach the higher prizes offering better value, but usually some compromise can be reached. It doesn’t sound like a large amount, but a player who waited for the $1,600 reward  would end up $600 more added to their poker bankroll.

Also keep an eye on special discounts for VIP store items and if you play live tournaments, often live packages and be good value since the poker room wants you to attend their live events.

On a final note, if you plan to cash out your rewards straight away or anytime you cash out for that matter and transfer money to a currency different from that used by the online poker room, even exchange rates can have some effect over the value retrieved from using loyalty points. If your shopping in a period of fluctuating exchange rates sometimes