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What Is Rakeback? A Comprehensive Guide

What Is Rakeback? A Comprehensive Guide

Rakeback is a term that has become increasingly popular among the poker community, both online and offline. It's a way for players to earn extra money while playing poker and can sometimes make a significant difference in their overall winnings. In this article, we'll cover the concept of rakeback, its history, how it works, different types of rakeback, and important considerations when choosing a poker room that offers rakeback.

Understanding Rake and Rakeback

Before diving into the concept of rakeback, it's essential to understand what rake is in the context of poker. Rake is a commission fee taken by the operator of a poker game, such as a casino or an online poker room. The rake is typically less than ten percent and is taken from the pot each hand up to a certain limit.

Rakeback is a relatively new aspect of raking that started with online poker rooms. As a form of incentive, the online poker rooms kick back a percentage of the rake based on how much a particular player contributed. This refund of a portion of the rake paid by a player is known as "rakeback."

The History of Rakeback

The concept of rakeback can be traced back to the early days of online poker, around 2004. Some online poker sites or their affiliate partners started offering rakeback as an incentive for players to continue playing on their site. This practice quickly gained popularity, and more poker rooms began to offer rakeback deals.

In the past, many third-party companies provided rakeback to customers who signed up under them. For example, during the Full Tilt Poker era, players would sign up under a third-party rakeback provider, pay rake to the online poker room, and receive a percentage of their rake back every week from the third party. Nowadays, some of the biggest poker rooms, like partypoker, pay out rakeback directly to the players, eliminating the need for a third party.

How Rakeback Works

Rakeback is usually calculated using one of three methods: contributed rakeback, dealt rakeback, and progressive rakeback. Let's explore each method in detail.

Contributed Rakeback

With this method, your rake is based on the percentage of money you contribute to the pot. For example, if you bet $10 in a cash game and the rake at that poker room is 10%, you would contribute $1 in rake for this hand. If the rakeback offer is 25%, a player would get $0.25 back for this one hand.

Dealt Rakeback

In this method, rakeback is awarded to all players who were dealt cards in the hand, regardless of their contribution to the pot. The rake a player gets credited with is proportionate to the amount of their pot contribution. This method works well for tight players who prefer to wait for premium hands.

Progressive Rakeback

A hybrid of both contributed and dealt rakeback, the progressive rakeback method offers higher rakeback percentages for players who play more hands or generate more rake. The more rake a player generates, the higher the percentage they get back. This option is often the best choice for regular grinders and multi-tablers who put in the volume to reach targeted levels.

Rakeback in Different Poker Formats

Rakeback can be offered in various poker formats, such as cash games, tournaments, and Sit & Go's. Here's how rakeback works in each format:

Cash Games

In cash games, the poker room charges a small amount of money per pot. This amount will fluctuate based on the number of people in the hand and the game type. Rakeback in cash games is usually calculated using one of the methods mentioned earlier: contributed, dealt, or progressive.

Tournaments and Sit & Go's

In tournaments and Sit & Go's, the poker room charges an entry fee, which is the equivalent of rake in a cash game. For instance, if you enter a $55 tournament, $5 of this amount will be the rake. Rakeback in tournaments is often calculated as a percentage of the entry fee paid by the player.

Sit & Go's are one of the best ways to generate large amounts of rakeback, as players frequently buy into tournaments and pay tournament fees.

The Rise of Rakeback Pros

With the popularity of rakeback, a new breed of poker players emerged - the "rakeback pros." These players focus on maximizing their rakeback earnings while playing multiple tables simultaneously. Rakeback pros often employ a less intensive losing strategy across many tables while offsetting their losses through rakeback. This approach has led to a new form of poker career, where players can earn thousands of dollars in rakeback every month.

Choosing a Poker Room with Rakeback

When selecting a poker room that offers rakeback, there are several factors to consider. Some poker rooms may not offer rakeback directly but instead provide a rewards program that can actually surpass the benefits of rakeback. These rewards programs typically work by awarding players frequent player points based on the amount of rake they pay. These points can then be exchanged for merchandise, tournament tickets, or cash.

It's also essential to be cautious of poker rooms that offer very high rakeback percentages, as they might be struggling to attract players. Instead, focus on finding a reputable poker room with a solid rakeback offer that suits your playing style and preferences.

Rakeback and the Law

In most legal jurisdictions, taking a rake from a poker table is explicitly illegal if the party taking the rake does not have the proper gaming licenses and/or permits. The laws of many jurisdictions do not prohibit playing poker for money at a private dwelling, provided that no one takes a rake. However, rakeback deals are usually legal, as they are considered a form of player reward or incentive.

Rakeback Alternatives

While rakeback is an attractive option for many poker players, it's important to remember that there are other ways to maximize your earnings from poker. Some poker rooms offer sign-up bonuses that can be more valuable in the long run for players who don't plan on putting in a high volume of play. Additionally, poker rooms may offer loyalty programs or other incentives that can provide similar benefits to rakeback.


Rakeback is an essential aspect of poker for many players, as it can significantly impact their overall winnings. By understanding the concept of rakeback, its history, how it works, and the different types available, players can make informed decisions when choosing a poker room that offers rakeback. Ultimately, finding the right rakeback deal can help improve a player's bottom line and make their poker experience more enjoyable.

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