Start Up Your Poker Business – Part 4: Online Poker Site Comparison

As you already know some important principles from the first three articles of the series it is time to decide which poker site you choose to play on. In this part I will make some online poker site comparison to make your choice easier.

First of all, let’s clarify one thing. Rake plays an important part in our financial results. What taxes are for companies, rake is the same for us. Both taxes and rake increases as production volume (in our case the amount of played hands) increases. Companies have to “beat” taxes to stay profitable, the same applies in poker.

This series is not trying to highlight the first deposit bonus, VIP rewards and rakeback as some excess money you can get. In reality that is not what they are, but a marketing trick that looks way better to Average Joe. If you want to view idn poker as a business, you should look deeper into the numbers.

Remember this: “The flashy bonuses and special offers are mostly just reductions of the rake you are paying.” I will keep in mind this perspective throughout the whole article. Accept that rake is part of the equation. It can be beaten. You can beat it, too. Tax optimization alone can turn a business with losses into a profitable venture. And this is exactly what this article will be about: the optimization of your rake.

Nowadays there are two online poker sites on the market which are huge, authentic and posses very many active players: Full Tilt Poker (FTP) and PokerStars (PS). There are tens of thousands of players playing at any given time on both sites. On PS this number varies depending on the day and time of the day, but it is between 80 000 – 400 000 players. On Full Tilt the number of players are between 40 000 – 150 000. Both sites are absolutely reliable, it cannot happen that these sites go bankrupt, not pay out your withdrawal, etc.

We compare the two sites in the following paragraphs. Both of them are very transparent and user friendly. Other sites like Bodog or Party Poker cannot be compared to the “top two” when talking about player volume or quality of software.

Full Tilt Poker

Briefly what the site offers: there is 27% rakeback, Full Tilt Store for spending your bonus points, Iron Man Bonus program for regular players to get even more bonus possibilities, Black Card bonus program (this last program, the Black Card is very hard to reach if you are a beginner because you need to play every day a lot of hands on the site to qualify). The rake is counted based on the weighted-contributed rake method.


This site does not offer rakeback, but instead developed a VIP program. Depending on what level and how many hands you play, you collect points. Based on the amount of accumulated points, you get VIP bonuses that have the same value as an 8.8%-63% rakeback. Points are accumulated based on the dealt rake method.

I explain how it works in practice. A beginner player who has deposited $300, plays on four 6 max tables at NL5 level, 40 hours/month. Calculating with 85 hands/hour/table there are 85 * 40 * 4 = 13600 hands/month.

PokerStars: 13600 hand * 0.52$ /100 hand (check where this number comes from the table below) = $70.72
rake $70.72 rake * 8.5vpp/$ = 601.12
vpp $10 Stellar reward at 750 vpp, so 601 vpp = ~$8 in stellar rewards
601,12 vpp on BronzeStar is 601,12 fpp.
601.12 fpp * 0.016 $/fpp = $9.62
Altogether Player1 is paying 70.72 – 8 – 9.62 = $53.1

Full Tilt Poker: 13600 hand * 0.77$/100 hand (check where this number comes from the table below) = $104.72 rake $104.72 rake * 10point/$ = 1047 point
1047 point * 3.5$/1000point (this number is an average market value) = $3.66
$104.72 rake * 27% rakeback = $28.27
Altogether Player1 is paying 104.72 – 3.66 – 28.27 = $72.79

The calculations are based on official data, statistical averages, and market value of points. The calculations can contain faults, but they were not meant to be 100% mathematically correct, nor take into account each and every factor – this is not even distinctly possible. However, the amounts shown in this article serve as a general guideline to help players select their preferred site.


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