PokerStars rakeback in 2011

From VPPs and FPPs to cold hard percentages for all PokerStars' VIPs

If you are looking for PokerStars rakeback, then all you have to do is sign up at PokerStars and start playing for real money.

And that's it.

You don't have to use a 'special' rakeback link, you don't have to clear your cookies or spend hours browsing the internet for some extra percentages. Just playing for real money at PokerStars will make you a PokerStars-VIP. And as a VIP you are supposed to be mollycoddled, which is exactly what PokerStars does by awarding VIP-player points (VPPs) to you based on the amount you play.

Depending on your PokerStars VIP-level, these player points are worth a certain amount of frequent player points (FPPs) and these points can, in turn, be spent for real money bonuses in PokerStars' VIP-store. So, although PokerStars does not offer rakeback, PokerStars does give you part of your paid rake back. It's just a little bit more complicated to figure out how much it will be exactly and how this compares to a standard rakeback deal at another online poker room. And that's where this PokerStars rakeback page is supposed to come in handy.

In this article, rewards from the current PokerStars VIP-club (2011) will be expressed in terms of PokerStars rakeback percentages for the different VIP-levels. Furthermore, the equivalent rakeback percentage for poker players playing different amounts of hands at different stakes will also be given.

Contents of this PokerStars rakeback page:

The PokerStars VIP-club in 2011

VPPs and FPPs

VPPs are awarded for playing real money games at PokerStars in the following manner:

Table 1: number of VPPs awarded per $ or € rake taken from the pot. SH = short handed, FR = full ring.
TourneysSH cashFR cash2nl 5nl10nl
VPPs per $ rake5.55.56108.57
VPPs per € rake888.512.510.59

Note: VPPs are distributed evenly among the players dealt in a hand. Short handed games are games at a table with 7 or less seats and full ring games are all games at tables with 8 or more seats (regardless of the number of players seated). VPP amounts awarded at 2nl, 5nl and 10nl are the same for SH and FR games.

The amount of VPPs you earn in a certain month or year will determine your PokerStars VIP-level. Associated with every PokerStars VIP rank is a so called FPP multiplier which determines the FPP value of one VPP. Furthermore, your PokerStars VIP-level also determines which bonus you can buy in the PokerStars VIP store to convert your FPPs into some instant cold hard cash. At higher VIP levels your FPPs will be more valuable:

Table 2: PokerStars VIP requirements and FPP value when purchasing bonuses in the VIP-store.
VIP levelRequirement (VPPs)FPP multiplierBonus available$/FPP
BronzeStar 01$250.010
SilverStar750 / month1.5$500.011
GoldStar3000 / month2$3000.012
PlatinumStar7500 / month2.56500.013
Supernova100,000 / year3.5$1500 / $40000.015 / 0.016
Supernova Elite1,000,000 / year5$1500 / $40000.015 / 0.016

PokerStars stellar and milestone bonuses

Another benefit from the PokerStars VIP club are the stellar and milestone bonuses. These bonuses are cash credits which become available in the PokerStars VIP store when reaching a certain amount of VPPs within a calendar year and will cost a symbolic 1 FPP. These bonuses are all real cash into your pockets and therefore add to your total PokerStars rakeback percentage (see tables 4 and 5 further down).

Other PokerStars VIP rewards

Other PokerStars VIP rewards such as freeroll entries (freerolls with prize pools of up to $1,000,000) are not included in the PokerStars rakeback calculations on this page.

PokerStars rakeback by VIP-level

With the numbers from tables 1 and 2 it is possible to calculate the basic equivalent PokerStars rakeback percentage of every VIP-level:

Table 3: basic PokerStars rakeback equivalents of the different PokerStars VIP levels.
VIP levelTourney / SH cashFR cash2nl5nl10nl
BronzeStar 5.5%6.0%10.0%8.5%7%
Supernova Elite44.0%48.0%80.0%68.0%56.0%

Note: the above rakeback percentages are not representative for achieving a certain VIP level. So, if you start out as a BronzeStar and you accumulate 100,000 VPPs (playing full ring) within a calander year, your basic PokerStars rakeback equivalent for that first year will be significantly lower than 33.6%.

Example: say that as a GoldStar you have accumulated 25.003 FPPs at the 10nl full ring games and want to turn them into cash. To get those FPPs you have had to pay 25.003 / 7 (VPPs/$) / 2 (multiplier) = $1785.93 in rake. The bonus with the highest value per FPP available to you in the PokerStars VIP-store is the $300 bonus for 25.000 FPPs, or 0.012 $/FPP. Your basic PokerStars rakeback percentage will be 300/1785.93*100 = 16.8%.

If you started out as a BronzeStar your rakeback equivalent would be lower.

Assuming that you moved through a certain VIP level within one calendar month you would have earned 750 VPPs as a BronzeStar (750 FPPs); 2250 VPPs as a SilverStar (3375FPPs) and the remaining 10,439 VPPs as a GoldStar for a total of 13,439 VPPs or $1919.86 in rake paid. This would come down to a (basic) PokerStars rakeback percentage of 300/1919.86*100 = 15.6%.

So, as a Supernove Elite playing at 2nl you will receive at least 80 percent rakeback from PokerStars. That is, if you manage to accumulate the 250,000 FPPs needed for the $4000 bonus at this levelů

On top of the basic PokerStars rakeback values from Table 3 you will have to add the PokerStars rakeback equivalent of stellar bonuses and milestone bonuses to get your total rakeback percentage.

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Stellar bonuses in terms of PokerStars rakeback

Table 4: PokerStars rakeback equivalent of stellar bonuses.
Yearly VPPsBonusCum. bonusTourney / SH cashFR cash2nl5nl10nl

Note: these percentages are all the maximum rakeback equivalents. If you fall somewhere in between two stellar targets, your equivalent rakeback percentage will be lower (also see the example at 150,000 yearly VPPs).

Example: the 25.003 FPPs from the previous example were accumulated in just 2 months alongside 25003/2 = 12501 VPPs. You got fed up with poker and didn't play for the rest of the year. Your PokerStars rakeback equivalent from the stellar bonuses would have been a little less than 10.5% because you fall in between two stellar targets: (150/(12501/7) = 8.4%. Your total PokerStars rakeback %-age would have been 16.8 + 8.4 = 25.2%.

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PokerStars rakeback equivalent of milestone bonuses

Calculation of the equivalent PokerStars rakeback percentage of milestone and stellar bonuses for Supernovas and Supernova Elites goes the same. This time calculations for the micro stakes are left out for obvious reasons.

Table 5: PokerStars rakeback equivalent of milestones (incl. stellar bonuses).
Yearly VPPsBonusCum. bonusTourney / SH cashFR cash

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So, what will be my PokerStars rakeback percentage?

For your total PokerStars rakeback percentage you have to add the percentages from table 3 to those of either table 4 or 5. Because this will not be accurate for many of the playing volumes in between stellar and milestone targets I have made some fancy graphs:

PokerStars rakeback
Figure 1: PokerStars rakeback by playing volume (T/SH = tournament or short handed cash; FR = full ring cash; year 1 = starting at BronzeStar; year 2 = starting at VIP level from end of year 1).

PokerStars rakeback
Figure 2: PokerStars rakeback by playing volume (zoomed in on Fig.1)

micro stakes PokerStars rakeback
Figure 3: PokerStars rakeback at the micro stakes (T/SH = tournament or short handed cash; FR = full ring cash; year 1 = starting at BronzeStar; year 2 = starting at VIP level from end of year 1).

The PokerStars rakeback percentages from Figures 1-3 are all based on the assumption that you earn the same amount of VPPs/hand for every day of the year and that you start playing at the start of a new calendar year. Again, it is also assumed that you turn your FTPs into cash by buying the highest bonus available in the PokerStars VIP store for your VIP level.

As you can see, there are two distinct jumps in the PokerStars rakeback percentages at around 275 VPP/day and at around 2750 VPP/day. These jumps in PokerStars rakeback correspond with reaching Supernova and Supernova Elite status respectively. Furthermore you can see a clear 'saw tooth' structure caused by the stellar and milestone bonuses. The highest PokerStars rakeback percentage in these saw tooth structures corresponds with exactly reaching a stellar or milestone requirement, while the lowest PokerStars rakeback percentages are just before reaching those requirements.

It also becomes apparent from the above figures that the difference in average PokerStars rakeback between the first year of playing (when climbing up the VIP ladder) and the second year becomes bigger as you move up from the micro stakes and as you reach Supernova and Supernova Elite respectively.

Table 6: PokerStars VPP/hand rates at different stakes (VPP/hand rates taken from FPP
StakesVPP/hand, SHVPP/hand, FR
For a rough estimate of the PokerStars rakeback equivalents you could attain with different playing volumes at different stakes you could calculate your number of VPPs/day based on the VPP/hand rates published at FPP (see Table 6). You can multiply the VPP/hand rates with the daily number of hands you play and then read your PokerStars rakeback percentage from one of the figures above. PokerStars rakeback values determined this way are a very rough estimate as the VPP/hand rate will depend on a lot of factors. Just to give you an idea of playing volumes: low playing volumes are several hundreds of hands/day, medium playing volumes are around 1000-2000 hands per day and high playing volumes are anything above that (some serious multi-tabling required then). Also take a look at Table 7 for the rakeback percantages at low (500 hands/day), medium (1500 hands/day) and high (4500 hands/day) playing volumes.

Example: say you are a 10nl player and for some reason you don't want to move up in stakes. You want to know if you can make it to Supernova starting from BronzeStar playing full ring games, because you like the idea of playing with almost 50% rakeback at PokerStars for next year. You now know that you then need to earn 275 VPP/day and can do so at approximately 0.064 VPP/hand for 275/0.064 = 4297 hands/day on average. You've got plenty of time on your hands and you read the multi-tabling guide and can now comfortably mass multi-table, so you decide to give it a serious shot.

Table 7: PokerStars rakeback at different stakes and playing volumes.
Stakes500 hands/day1500 hands/day4500 hands/day

PokerStars rakeback - conclusion

The PokerStars VIP club offers benefits for every real money player with a PokerStars rakeback equivalent which will be somewhere between 15-25% for low volume poker players and can increase to around 70% for the few who manage to achieve Supernova Elite status.

Be careful when comparing the above rakeback percentages with rakeback deals at other online poker rooms. When doing so, you also have to take into account any differences in rake structures and rake calculation methods. This is especially true for micro stakes players. Also take a look at the article about rake and rakeback at the micro stakes for more information about this.

Also don't forget that, with the PokerStars VIP system you have to first accumulate enough FPPs to be able to purchase the bonus that will give you the best value for your FPPs. This means that it can take quite a while before you can harvest your rakeback. A GoldStar who just meets the monthly requirements has to save his FPPs for more than 4 months before he or she can buy the $300 bonus for 25,000 FPPs.

The PokerStars rakeback percentages from Table 7 above indicate that especially low and medium volume 25nl players are mollycoddled a little less by PokerStars than other players. Taking into account that the average rake taken at lower stakes will be higher due to the rake caps being reached less often, this will be disappointing for quite a few of PokerStars' 'VIPs'. For other nano and micro stakes VIPs playing at stakes below 25nl the PokerStars VIP rewards combined with a decent rake structure make PokerStars very competitive to, for example, Full Tilt Poker.

Remember that there are other ways to beat the rake than getting rakeback alone. No PokerStars rakeback percentage will make up for a lack of understanding of the game. So, in order to beat the micro stakes and start making some money to build your roll, your primary focus should always be to improve your game.

Finally, if you haven't got one already, you can sign up for an account at PokerStars here (marketing code PSP11861, optional though) or follow the PokerStars download guide. If you then find from personal experience that the rakeback numbers for Supernova Elite presented here are just way off, then please don't hesitate to let me know ;-).

Further reading at First Time Poker Player:

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