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Exploiting Rake – Playing Styles, Rakeback & VIP Points

By , Rakeback.com Executive Editor

Playing styles affect the amount of rake paid, and the amount of rake paid affects rakeback and VIP benefits – which all affect where you should choose to play. This article explains how to exploit these relationships and looks at how rake affects the decision to move up in stakes.

Playing Tight vs Loose

‘Tight’ and ‘loose’ are colloquials way of talking about different playing styles. Winning strategies can come from both styles, but for most online grinders, tight is right!

Tight play generally means only putting money in the pot when you are confident that you have the best hand.

Recreational players play loose because they enjoy playing lots of hands, seeing showdowns, and bluffing. They don’t want to wait for a monster to get into the action. Tables play loose when the average style of the players is loose.

Most poker room lobbies show percentages for VPIP or Players/Flop. The higher these figures, the looser the table.

Rake takes a proportion of each pot where there’s a flop, so the more flops and the more people in each pot, the more rake the site takes.

Even though the rake structure may be the same, the amount of rake a site earns will be different, because each site has a different proportion of winning and recreational players.

PartyPoker and iPoker network rooms have very similar rake structures:

PartyPoker Rake Structure $0.10/$0.25 – $10/$20


Rake Cap
2 $0.01 per $0.20 $1
3 – 4 $0.01 per $0.20 $2
5 – 10 $0.01 per $0.20 $3

iPoker Rake Structure $0.50/$1 – $10/$20


Rake Cap
2 $0.05 per $1 $1
3 – 4 $0.05 per $1 $2
5 – 10 $0.05 per $1 $3

In the last article we explained that taking 1c for every 20c in the pot actually leads to higher rake charges than taking 5c for every $1 even though both numbers are apparently 5%.

Here are the figures that Rakeback.com has collected for the rake players actually pay at $0.50/$1 and $1/$2 Full Ring NLHE tables on PartyPoker and iPoker rooms:

FRNL Rake Compared: iPoker vs Party


Rake in bb/100
iPoker Party
$0.50/$1 6.78 6.45
$1/$2 4.87 5.12

While rake is a little bit higher, as expected at iPoker rooms for $0.50/$1, it is actually a little lower at $1/$2 tables. On the face of it, it appears to be cheaper to play 100NL on PartyPoker, and 200NL on iPoker.

But, the rake tables say that iPoker should have a higher rake than PartyPoker. The difference is all down to looser play at PartyPoker at this stake level.

The importance of true win rate – what you would win if there was no rake – was pointed out in the last article. The looser play at PartyPoker tables indicates that a good player should have a higher true win rate there than at an iPoker skin. High rake numbers in bb/100 don’t always tell the whole story.

Moving UP!

The difference in rake between 100NL and 200NL at PartyPoker is around 1.3bb/100 hands – about half of a good high volume player’s actual win rate. At lower stakes the difference can be much greater. When making the decision to move up to play higher stakes, rake should be a factor in your decision.

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If you have a true win rate at 100NL of 10bb/100 with 6.5bb/100 being paid in rake and you think your win rate will be halved to 5bb/100 if you move up, then you expect to lose 1.5bb/100 in real money while you learn to improve at the new level.

But if you take the rake reduction into account, you can break even if the rake is 1.5bb/100 lower.

  • 10bb/100 true win rate – 6.5bb/100 rake = 3.5bb/100 in winnings.
  • 5bb/100 true win rate – 5bb/100 rake = breakeven while you learn to beat the new level.

If you take into account the reduced rake, you don’t have to be quite as good as you think in order to give the bigger game a shot – and we still haven’t added in rakeback and VIP benefits.

Rakeback Counts

Doubling the stakes doesn’t double the rake, but it does increase the rake on which your rakeback and VIP benefits are calculated.

Our 100NL player should be making at least 30% in rakeback or equivalent for his play. 6.5bb/100 in rake times 30% equals 1.95bb/100 or $1.95 in rakeback for every hundred hands played.

When he moves up to 200NL, that 30% is worth a lot more. Using the PartyPoker numbers of 5.12bb/100, 30% equals over 1.5bb/100 which is $3.07 in rakeback for every hundred hands played. And if he stays at the higher level long enough, his VIP level may increase, making the extra rakeback even more valuable.

Suddenly, the jump in stakes doesn’t look quite so financially daunting – if you know how to exploit the rake.

Exploiting Rake Series

  • Part I –   Why sites take a rake, and hate winning players – the big picture
  • Part II –   Win rates & rake theory – smart game selection
  • Part III –   Playing styles & Rake – how high VPIP games pump up the rake
  • Part IV –   Rake Methods & Rakeback – the dealt, contributed, WTA & Essence systems
  • Part V –   MTT Rake – adjusting bankroll for buy in fees, and game selection
  • Part VI –   STT Rake – considering winrates, buy in size, rake and rakeback in SNGs

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Many players earn a living wage from rakeback alone. Use the calculator below to estimate the size of payments you’ll get over a given period of time. The calculator will compute your expected daily, weekly, and monthly cash back depending on the stakes and tables you input.

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