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The Importance of Bonuses and Rakeback

This month at 100nl on PokerStars I’ve paid $0.056/hand in rake after a sample of ~50k hands. Since I get about 750 hands/hour, this amounts to about $42/hour. This is also 2.8 ptbb/100.

To make sure the peoples of the Beginner’s Circle understand this properly: if in a given hour I beat the players for $50, I only get $8 of that.

With a Rakeback deal of 33%, I’d keep $14/hour of my bankroll that I would have lost otherwise. If I get in 80 hours of play in a month (which is a little on the low side for me but typical), then that’s $1120 that I would have saved.

Now that might not seem like such a big deal for those of you who play microstakes, but that’s where you’re wrong. It IS such a big deal because micro and low-stakes are where players really take a beating due to the rake in relation to the stakes.

For the examples I’m going to make, I’m going to assume the same 2.8 ptbb/100 rate of the rake. For some sites it works out to be slightly more and for others it works out to be slightly less just depending on how they take their 5%, but know that I’m 100% sure that it will be higher at 25nl and 50nl because at PokerStars the rake caps at $3 which happens relatively often in 100nl games and relatively rarely at 25nl and 50nl games.

Example of Moving Up Through the Stakes

Suppose you’ve got $200 and you’re going to grind your way through the full ring stakes starting at 10nl using a 20-buyin bankroll guideline. We’ll say you pick up things fairly quickly for a complete beginner and make +4ptbb/100 at 10nl, +3ptbb/100 at 25nl, +2ptbb/100 at 50nl, and +2ptbb/100 at 100nl.

At first you need to make $300 to move up to 25nl. Without Rakeback, this will take you 37500 hands. With a 33% Rakeback deal, it would only take you about 30400 (saving you 7100 hands).

Now you need to make $500 to move up to 50nl. Without Rakeback, this will take you 33333 hands. With a 33% Rakeback deal, it would only take you about 25500 (saving you 7833 hands).

So now with your bankroll up to $1000, you’re needing another $1000 before you move up to 100nl. Without Rakeback, this will take you 50000 hands. With a 33% Rakeback deal, it would only take you about 34100 (saving you 15900 hands).

Finally you’re up to the dizzy heights of 200nl and you want to make another $2000 before you even consider moving up. Without Rakeback, this will take you 50000 hands. With a 33% Rakeback deal, it would only take you about 34100 (again saving you 15900 hands).

So in this example, Rakeback would save you from playing 46733 unnecessary hands, which is a few of months worth of play or more for most people new to the game.

Example of Becoming a Breakeven Player

If you’re at a table with other players, you think that if you beat those players then you are making money. This isn’t always the case. Along with beating the players, you have to beat the rake, which is probably the harder of the two at microstakes and low stakes.

When most players start, they are losing players. Then they read a bit, learn about things like pot odds and position, and they get better. They eventually pull up to being a breakeven player before beating the game. So the question is, how many hands does it take for them to go from losing to breakeven, and how much money will Rakeback save them during this period of time?

Suppose it takes a 10nl player 10000 hands to become breakeven, which is probably about right. In that time, you’ve probably lost a good portion of your starting bankroll, but $56 of your loss was just from the rake. So even if you were playing breakeven with the players themselves, you have still lost over 25% of your bankroll. A 33% Rakeback deal would have cut your losses due to the rake down to only $37.

Conclusion

I could go on and on with examples of how much of a difference Rakeback and bonuses can make in the growth of your bankroll, but it boils down to a simple point: Rakeback and bonuses are free money. You’re going to be playing poker anyway, so why not get some extra money out of something you are going to be doing in the first place? It’s a very big mistake for beginning players to not have some sort of Rakeback (and/or Bonus). That is all.

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