The rake is that drip, drip of fees deducted from every pot you play (and, sometimes, from the entry fees you pay for tournaments or other “special events”). All the regular players who get into the action in the small to medium sized pots have already signed up for a rebate. To add extra excitement to those players, some sites run races – usually over a calendar month – awarding points for the rake paid and the number of raked hands played. To let everyone see how well (or badly) they are doing, there’s a real-time leaderboard with the top one hundred (or more) being paid out at the end of the playing period. How many get paid depends on each competition and you should take time to read all the terms and conditions before you sign up. Some of the top players may be grinding through fifteen or sixteen hours of play per day – i.e. only stopping to sleep (and for other necessary functions). They will tend to sign up for the races where the prize money is high. If you are a more casual player, look for low volume competitions in smaller poker rooms. Obviously, this means the prize money is also significantly lower, but you can usually find the right competition for you when you balance out the potential for some race winnings alongside the additional loyalty and VIP bonuses and privileges you will earn if your volume of play increases. Always look at the bigger picture when choosing the race – the sites through which you signed up for a rake rebate will usually have a newsletter service to keep you up-to-date on the latest races being offered.
If you are serious about trying to win, what should you do? The first step is a warning. Always make sure you keep a limit on any losses. There is no point in continuing to play for the sake of winning a race only to find you are bankrupt at the end of the month. Similarly, always stay healthy. Get enough sleep and eat regular meals. Where the race is to find those who play more hands than anyone else, you have to play on multiple tables. If the winning line is solely the amount raked, you may have to play multiple tables – it depends on the value of the pots you play for and the rake percentages and caps. If the rake you pay only rarely exceeds the cap, you will have to play multiple tables.
To give yourself the best chances of winning a rakeback race, play on multiple tables, always trying to find loose tables where people play more marginal hands. This also gives you the best chance of winning the game because you will see more flops and can play the odds better to take the pots away from the weaker players. However, this makes remembering every player’s style more challenging so, when playing multiple tables, using a heads-up display of stats and hand results gives you essential information. So, with these strategies in place, watch the leaderboard and avoid burning out. Even if you do not win the race, you will still get several hundred (or thousand) dollars of rakeback to add to your winnings.