A Detailed Rake and Reward Comparison of Three of the Top Poker Sites
It is no secret that it is a good idea to play on the more recognized online poker rooms these days if you want to be confident that your money is safe.
Unscrupulous sites typically try to lure players away from these recognized sites by offering large bonuses, but when you consider the risk of not being to cashout, it's better to stick with the main rooms. Additionally, you need to approach poker as a long term source of income; not a short-term bonus grab.
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In this article, we're going to compare the rake structures of the different leading online poker sites, as well as their reward programs.
Assume the following: Since no limit holdem is the most popular type of poker online, we're going to stick to analyzing that for simplicity. We'll be looking at the rake and rewards for small stakes cash games, in terms of U.S. dollars.
PokerStars is by far the largest online room, so let's start with their rake and reward structure.
Unlike most sites, PokerStars only collects rake on a hand if it makes it to the flop. This rule provides a bonus to those of you who love to get aggressive pre-flop with 3- and 4-bets.
From $100NL (no limit with $0.5/$1 blinds) up until $600NL, there's a flat rake of 4.5%, with a rake cap of $2.80. This means that the maximum rake that can be taken out of a pot is equal to $2.80, which is reached when the pot grows to approximately $63. Obviously this size of pot is fairly common at the higher stakes, but is not hit too often at $100NL.
PokerStars has a VIP system with different levels. The higher the level you are, the better the rewards.
Every player, regardless of status, earns 5.5 VPPs per $1 that they pay in rake. These VPPs are only counted to determine which status you belong to.
At $100NL, you should be able to reach either Gold Star (2,500 VPPs/month) or Platinum Star (7,500 VPPs/month) with a decent amount of hand volume.
What are actually valuable, are the FPPs. These points can be redeemed for prizes in the PokerStars store. At the gold and platinum levels, you get 2 and 2.5 FPPs per VPP you earn. This would equate to 11,000-13,750 FPPs per $1000 in rake.
While cash bonuses are typically the worst value (compared to cash game or tournament tickets), they're the easiest to compare.
A goldstar member can redeem 6,250 FPPs for $75 cash. This means that you can get almost two of these for $1000 of rake, which equals $150, or 15% rakeback.
This isn't great, but if you can reach the higher levels, like Supernova, you can achieve levels of over 30% rakeback.
Full Tilt Poker
While Full Tilt Poker is intertwined with PokerStars, it's a whole separate room with separate rake rules.
Full Tilt features a constant max rake from $50NL and up of $3 per hand with 5 players or more. It also has a flat 5% rake, so for every dollar in the pot, $0.05 is collected.
The reward program at Full Tilt has shifted from a rakeback program to a purely VIP program like PokerStars called Edge Rewards.
You get 1 Full Tilt Point (FTP) for every $0.10 of rake. However, you can really maximize your earnings by playing during Happy Hours, which are periods of time where you earn 2 or 3 times the FTPs on all tables.
Your status is calculated by your 30-day or 100-day rolling average. To achieve gold level you'll need to average 75 FTPs over 30 days.
Not only can you spend FTPs, but you also get a direct deposit into your account every week depending on your status. At gold level, you get $1.50 for every 100 FTPs you earned that week. 100 FTPs is equal to $10 of rake, so this is already 15% rakeback.
Additionally, you can buy prizes in the store. You can buy a $100 cash bonus for 28,500 points. For $1,000 of rake, you get 10,000 points. This means that if you saved up, you'd get the cash bonus of $100 after about $3,000 of rake. This works out to about 3.3% rakeback.
In total, the average small stakes player will get about 18.3% on Full Tilt Poker.
The third room we will cover is Titan Poker. The largest iPoker skin, known for its nitty games, but solid rakeback program.
Titan, like most rooms, charge a flat 5% rake based on pot size. Additionally, there's a $3 maximum at all stakes above $25NL.
Titan's reward program is one of the simpler ones out there. You get 15 Titan points for $1 rake, and depending on the amount of points you earn, you can achieve a different status level.
At gold level, which is equal to 5,000 to 14,999 points per month, you get 1.5 club points per Titan point. These club points are redeemable in the store. For $1,000 in rake (15,000 Titan points), you can afford the $100 bonus and have a tiny bit left over. This is a starting 10% in rakeback.
Additionally, Titan offers a weekly cash deposit of up to $20. You get $0.50 for each set of 50 Titan points during the week. If you play the bare minimum to generate the $20, you need to earn 2,000 Titan points, which is equal to about $133 in rake. This is about 15% rakeback already.
In total, you can earn up to 25% rakeback on Titan Poker with the basic rewards. However, you can also get rakeback through poker affiliates, which can take your rakeback up to levels of 50% or higher.
For a typical $100NL player, PokerStars is the worst in terms of rakeback. However, if you play an extremely high volume of hands, PokerStars can be close to the best. PokerStars is also the most secure site for your money, which has been seen over the past decade or so.
For a typical $100NL player, Full Tilt Poker is slightly better than PokerStars with a rakeback percent approaching 20 percent.
For a typical $100NL player, Titan Bet offers the highest rakeback. However, the iPoker network is also known for being very nitty (players sit back and wait for the best hands), and won't have as large of a game selection as the other two sites.
You need to weigh these results with your personal playing style and hand volume, and then pick the best room for you.