Online poker rooms are always eager to sign up new players. They’ll offer plenty of promotions and bonuses to get you registered and playing. After that, they want you to keep coming back, which means plying you with incentives, from redeposit bonuses and cash back offers to monthly gifts and freerolls.
Because online poker rooms are in competition for your loyalty, they also offer structured programs to reward you for the hours you spend at their tables. These are similar to the frequent flyer programs offered by airlines, but instead of miles for travel, they typically offer “points” for play.
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How to Earn Points
Poker rooms take a rake from each deal, a small percentage of the pot won, to cover licensing, operating costs, taxes and profit. A portion of those raked earnings are returned to players as points. The number of points awarded for cash play in ring games is based upon the contribution players make to each pot.
Using Cake Poker’s “Gold Chips” rewards program as an example, players receive one Frequent Player Point (FPP) for every dollar raked. The points accrue automatically during play. Believing that a penny played should be a penny earned, Cake’s calculations are accurate down to the penny when it comes to FPPs. For a rake of $1.25, the player gets 1.25 FPP.
Points can be earned for tournament play, too, based upon entry charges. Cake Poker’s players receive 7 FPPs per dollar in tournament fees paid. From time to time special promotions may also be offered, allowing players to earn “double points” or “bonus points” for participation.
The Value of Points
Points accumulate in each player’s account. Totals can be seen at any time by clicking on the appropriate tab in the personal account section of the poker room. In many programs, the points can be redeemed for tokens that allow free tournament entry or exchanged for cash that can be used directly in play.
Again using Cake Poker as an example, points are converted into Gold Chips at a rate of 100 FPPs = 1 Gold Chip. This exchange happens automatically every time 100 points have been accumulated. The Gold Chips can then be used to access a variety of exclusive Gold Chip events, including guaranteed seat satellites and high value tourneys. They can also be used to purchase bonus cash and tournament tickets via the “Cake Shop.”
As another example of the value of points, Virgin Poker is fully integrated with V*POINTS, the same loyalty program applied to Virgin Atlantic Airways travel. Every V*POINT is worth 1p in merchandise or services. Points can be redeemed for Virgin Vouchers that can in turn be used to purchase Virgin Jewelry, Virgin Cosmetics, Virgin Wine and other goods, or exchanged for Virgin Experiences, like day spa passes or rally driving lessons.
Recognition for Loyalty
At most online poker rooms, the number of points earned also determines a player’s ranking within the customer loyalty program. Upon reaching certain point milestones, players are accorded increasingly higher status. Benefits are added at each level, such as freerolls, incremental increases in points per dollar raked, rebates on losses, and so on. Unlike the points themselves, however, status can be lost if a certain level of play is not maintained each month.
Cake Poker’s “Loyalty Level” program has an incredible 50 different “tiers.” Just as a designated number of FPPs are required per tier, a designated number of tiers must be completed to advance a level, collecting multiple rewards in the process. Completing tiers quickly makes a player eligible for “turbo” and “super turbo” bonuses, too.
By comparison, the 888poker Rewards program features ten status levels ranging from Blue, Iron, Chrome and Copper through Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum to VIP and VIP Diamond. A distinction is made between Rewards Points that can be traded for cash or other goodies and Status Points, which are used exclusively for determining levels and benefits. Progress is tracked automatically and can be viewed with a tool called “Monthly Status Overview.”
All else being equal, the attraction of a loyalty program can be an important factor in deciding where to play online. What’s most important is to remain loyal once a poker rewards program has been joined—that’s the only way to reap the greatest benefits and get full credit for time spent at the tables.