There are a lot of great things about PokerStars which helped it become the largest online poker room. One thing it lacks though, that other sites offer, is a PokerStars rakeback program. By signing up through a rakeback program you would receive a certain percentage of the rake you paid back each month on other sites. Around 30% is common.
You can use the VIP Program to help you get some of your rake back as cash at a rate similar to what other poker sites' rakeback programs offer. I'll explain how below in enough detail that new players can hopefully understand.
Over the years PokerStars has been compensating players through VIP Player Points (VPPs) and Frequent Player Points (FPPs). Every money game you play has a portion that goes to PokerStars, this is the rake and is usually shows as $X + $Y in the lobby. You earn VPPs for every raked game you play including cash games, multi table tournaments and sit and gos. FPPs are earned alongside VPPs. There is an FPP multiplier based on your current VIP level. If you've earned enough VPPs in the month to achieve the Silver Star level you will earn 1.5 FPPs for every VPP. The multipliers for each level along with the number of VPPs required to attain that level are displayed in the table below.
|VIP Level||VPPs required||FPP Multiplier|
|Silver Star||750 (monthly)||1.5x|
|Gold Star||3000 (monthly)||2x|
|Platinum Star||7,500 (monthly)||2.5x|
|Supernova Elite||1,000,000 (annually)||5x|
New VPP and FPP Award ScheduleToday I checked my VIP Status and noticed that my VPPs were going up in odd fractional amounts. I haven't played any games that granted fractional VPPs so after some digging I realized that PokerStars is awarding VPPs in a different manner than they did last year.
In the past, each game had a set VPP award that went along with the game. It was always a whole number from what I've seen. The only time fractional VPPs awarded were in cash games. Now fractional VPPs are awarded in all games where a rake is collected, including MTTs and SNGs.
For every $1 in rake, you earn 5.5 VPPs. So for a $5.40 Double or Nothing SnG (which I've been playing a lot lately) you will earn 5.5 * $0.40 = 2.2 VPPs. This is 10% more than the 2 VPPs that were awarded last year.
The only drawback is in some of the lower stakes games. I don't play much below the $5 level SnGs but I remember the $1.15 DoN SnGs awarded 1 VPP per game. At the end of the month, if I was just short of my VPP requirement for the next level or to maintain my current level. I would just run through as many of these as I could playing 20 at a time until I achieved the necessary VPPs.
It was a great deal. I didn't have great profits, if anything I was break even because of the higher rake percentage, but I'd only have around $20 invested in open tables and earn 20 VPPs. At the $5.40 level, if I had around $20 in open tables that would only be 8 VPPs. Now with the new VPP structure, for 20 $1 DoN tables, I'll only be earning 16.5 VPPs.
Reward BonusesThe more you play, the higher your VIP level and the more FPPs you earn. FPPs can be used to purchase items from the PokerStars VIP store, register in FPP tournaments and satellites. Some of the items you can purchase include VIP Reward Bonuses. You use your FPPs to purchase a bonus and then need to earn a certain number of VPPs within 90 days to clear that bonus. Below is a table showing the available bonuses, FPPs required and VPPs required to clear the bonus. I've also included the cash equivalent of each FPP based on the bonus amount. As you can see, you get more bang for your FPPs if you can wait to accumulate enough to get a bigger bonus. Just keep in mind you have to be able to clear the required VPPs within 90 days or the bonus expires.
|VIP Bonus||FPPs required||VPPs to Clear||Cash Equiv|
Stellar Rewards ProgramFor the high rolling Supernova and Supernova Elite players there are also Milestone Credits. When you reached a certain VPP amount throughout the year, you would be eligible for a certain cash credit. This isn't a bonus that you need to clear by earning more VPPs. The first Milestone Credit of $1,000 is achieved when you earn 100,000 VPPs. That's a bit out of reach for a lot of micro stakes players. You would have to pay around $1,800 in rake to earn that many VPPs.
Now PokerStars has come out with the Stellar Rewards Program which is similar to Milestone Credits which require a relatively small amount of VPPs to be awarded.
These are based on your yearly VPPs earned, so throughout the year you can earn higher and higher bonuses. You don't have to make sure you grind out a certain amount each month.
ONE VERY IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT STELLAR REWARDS: These are not automatically credited to your account. You need to go into the VIP Store and purchase them at a cost of only 1 FPP before you get the credit. It's important to keep track of how many VPPs you have earned and get the appropriate credit when it's due to you.
To get to the VIP store, click on the Cashier button in the PokerStars Lobby and then click the VIP Store button. Select the Stellar Rewards category to view the available bonuses. This screen shot shows you the Rewards offered in the VIP Store.
Below is a chart showing the Stellar Rewards and the Yearly VPPs required.
|Yearly VPP||Stellar Reward|
So how does PokerStars VIP Club stack up to Rakeback?Lets take the example of a pretty heavy micro stakes player that earns exactly 3,000 VPPs every month to maintain his or her Gold Star VIP Level. At the end of the year their rewards could look something like this:
FPPs Earned: 72,000 (36,000 x 2 Gold Star Multiplier)
Stellar Rewards Earned: $400
VIP Reward Bonus: $750 ($650 + 3x $50)
Total Bonuses: $1,150
Rake Back: 17.57%
The following table summarizes Rewards and Bonuses earned, not counting deposit bonuses, assuming a player plays exactly the amount necessary to attain a certain VIP Level each month.
|VIP Level||VPPs (yr)||Stellar Rewards||VIP Reward||Total Bonuses||Total Rake||Equiv Rakeback|
This is provided you use all your FPPs for bonuses instead of hats, shirts and other stuff. The more you play, the higher percentage you get back. Once you reach Supernova and Supernova Elite, you'll earn a higher rate of FPPs which will increase the VIP Reward Bonuses you can claim as well as Milestone credits.
It's not as great as some sites, where you get the rakeback in addition to points you can use in their store but it's pretty decent and right now the only way to get cash back based on the amount of rake you paid.
In addition to bonuses, look through the gift certificate section of the VIP Store. Some of these gift certificates offer a slightly better value per FPP than the bonuses do and don't require you to earn VPPs to clear them.