One of the things that makes a huge difference between online poker and land-based poker is the level of promotions and bonus offers that you can get when playing on the Internet. When you combine this with a lower rake, there is a serious benefit to playing online. The trade-off is that the players are more difficult at much lower stakes, so a $1/2 live game might play like a $0.10/$0.25 online game in terms of skill level. With all of this in mind, here we want to look at the importance of rakeback in online poker and why it’s such a vital part of the winning player’s game.
Tougher Competition, Higher Rake
Because you’re playing against people online who will tend to be much better than live games, you’re going to have a lower win-rate overall. Even if you’re one of the top winning players at a small stakes or mid-stakes level like $1/2 online, you might only pull a win-rate of about 5 big blinds per 100 hands.
Your rake that you pay in could be 4-5 big blinds per 100 hands as well, so you could very easily end up paying as much or more in rake than you’re earning.
In short, online poker in its current form creates a situation where the rake is high relative to your win-rates, even if you’re one of the top players at your level.
Lower the Effective Rake
With this in mind, consider the role of rakeback. If you are getting back just 25 percent of your rake, the ratio of your rake to your win-rate has drastically changed. For example, suppose that both your win-rate and your rake are 4 big blinds per 100 hands. After rakeback, you would effectively have a rake of 3 bb/100 compared to an effective win-rate of 5 bb/100. You went from your win-rate being 100 percent of your rake to your win-rate being 167 percent of your rake, and this is a massive change.
A lot of people pass on rakeback because of two main reasons. The first common reason is that they don’t believe it makes a big enough difference to be worth the trouble. As you can see from the examples above, you could make as much as 1 bb/100 hands. If you’re playing $1/2 and getting in 800 hands/hour like many multi-tabling players at quick-paced games can easily do, then that’s $16/hour that you would be throwing away if you didn’t get rakeback.
Afraid of Change
The second common reason is that they already have an account at a site that they are comfortable with and don’t feel like changing sites to get rakeback. In this case, the site that you play with might have other options like rewards programs or regular reload bonuses. In any event, you need to maximize your value to remove as much of the rake as possible. Any money that doesn’t go to the rake goes to your pocket, and that’s what poker is all about: maximizing your returns.