Rake is the amount of money the sight charges you to play. If you are playing a $10 tournament the site will usually take a $1 entree fee, if your playing cash tables the site will usually take 5% of the pots from you at micro-medium stakes and less at the higher takes.
Rake back is when you get a portion of this back and it can be crucial. there are other factors to consider as well as Rakeback however. However I shall start with Rake back, I am not a cash player I specialize in sit and goes and Mtts so I will give my examples for these.
in general most professional players would agree that if you are a top professional at single table tournaments for your stake level a 10% return on investment is realistic. unless the play is completely atrocious you will have a hard time getting more then 10% for single table sit and goes. for mtts much higher ROIs are possible.
let us assume therefore that you are a full time professional player who plays 150 sit and goes a day that is perfectly realistic.
for $6.50 single table sit and goes if we played 150 a day we would have staked $975 in the day with 10% ROI we would make $97.50, assuming we worked five days a week that would be $487.50 a week.
during that week we would have paid $75 a day $75 a day would be (remember were working 5 days a week) $375 a week. assuming we worked 50 weeks a year and had two weeks off, by the end of the year we would have made $24,375 we would have also paid $18750 rake by the end of the year. without having to pay any rake at all our yearly earnings would be $43125. Thats a huge difference, however no site or casino will let you play rake free, but 30% rake back may not be unrealistic 30% of 18750=5625
yes I can set up a bunch of figures that come to a round number like this within five minutes its called been autistic.
Thus you can see how drastic Rake back can be but Rake back is not the only factor. What are you getting rake back on for example.
if you are playing $10 sit and goes and paying a 40c entree fee so $10.40 and you get 10% rake back it is better then playing a $10 sit and go with $1 entree fee where you are getting 60% rake back. The reason for this should be so self explanatory that I shall skip explaining it because if u cant see why quit poker now before you lose everything.
entree fee for tournaments and rake on sites does actually vary. I remember on one site I worked the rake back to be huge I almost signed up with them until I realized that they charged huge rake actually 20% entree fee for tournaments and sit goes naturally I gave them a miss.
Rather then working out Rake back the best way to work out the best deal is how much Rake you are paying after rake back has been taken into account.
for example if we played a $10 sit and go with 40c entree fee and 10% rake back and another $10 sit and go with $1 entree fee and 60% rake back we would have payed 3.6% rake on the first sit and go and 4% rake on the second.
the first sit and go therefore is a better deal.
note for cash tables many sites charge the same rake but some charge the rake at intervals of $1 whilst others may do at intervals of $5, thus whilst both claim to be charging 5% rake on the first site at a pot of $3 you would lose 15 c whilst on the second you wouldn't have to pay any rake till $5 thus would lose nothing. This really adds up over time.
Not all sites offer rake back like Coolnout pointed out Pokerstars
doesn't. However Pokerstars doesn't However pokerstars has a Vip reward program which you can exchange points for cash, and other nice rewards at one point I made a spreadsheet for Pokerstars working out the total rake back for each level eg silver star Gold star etc.
What I found out is that pokerstars is a great site in terms of Rake back if you call it that for high volume players, However for low volume players it is not such a good deal.
This tends to be the case with most sites that offer vip reward programs, on a side note avoid party poker
at all costs there rake is atrocious.
However rake is not the only important factor you also have to consider other factors the main factors for a professional poker player to consider should be
1.Total rake charged after rake back factored in
2. average time duration of the sit and go or tournament
3. Player standard
4. game structure
5. stake level and expected ROI
6. Game availability
7. expected returns on an hourly basis (which is the sum total of the first 6 points.)
Please note the figures for pokerstars were based on calculations for 2009 since then pokerstars have changed there vip program and are now more competitive in most areas. The figures below should therefore be observed as theory based only and are no longer representative of poker stars.
I have researched which the best site to play on is for a large period of time and found for me it was poker stars yet I often point new players to other sites. Why? It's not because I want to keep all the benifits to myself its because Pokerstars is more suited to better players. Which is a good reason why poker stars has a much tougher standard of play, these points may seem to contradict and in a way they do but they balance out.
I like to play many tables at once generally anywhere from 12-35. if I went to a small site I could have to wait up to 5-10 minutes for a sit and go to start thus adding time to my sessions since I want to make the highest $ to hour ratio possible thats very bad. Since poker stars has such a huge player base games typically start in less then 30 seconds. that is very good. generally a supernova could earn 28% rake back on pokerstars before you also factor in all there benefits of free rolls and milestone bonus when it could typically pass 35-40%.
However if you were a gold star player for example you typically would have got 16% rake back and free rolls wouldn't have made much of a boost, also a gold star player is not likely to be a guy playing many tables at a time and thus game availability would not be such a huge deal to them. Thus a Gold star player would be far better of not playing on poker stars due to the fact that they are playing a higher standard of player, getting less rake back then if they signed up to a site that offers 27% rake back at sign up and they have no need for such game availability.
A good pro would like poker stars because despite the fact there is tougher competition they have a better deal for rake back then they would get else where and they have quick game availability.
game duration is also important single table tournament that takes 120 minutes is awful because you can find a simple table tournament that takes 45 minutes and the additional profit the extra time may bring is unlikely to compensate you for the time you lost.
Also certain structures may suit you more, depending on your style of play. Thus Rake back is very important and you should make sure you get the best deal do the research you don't necessary want the best rake back you want to pay the least rake after rake back has been taken off, however also note other factors are important to and this is not the sole only important factor in choosing your site.
to Conclude then the best site for Rake back or to play on is variant to your level of play playing style and attributes. Don't ask what the best site is, ask what the best site is for you.