Is It Possible To Live off Rakeback? (Explained)

live off rakeback

If you are a poker player, and you are thinking about living off poker, you might not even have to be a winning poker player to make living playing poker. How can you live off poker without being a winning player? Live off Rakeback!

In this guide, we will describe exactly how you can make a living playing poker and live only from Rakeback.

What is living off Rakeback?

Rake is the commission of each pot played that the casinos take from themselves. This is how poker rooms make money. But casinos and poker rooms want to make their players happy, so that they keep playing with them, for that reason most of the time they offer Rakeback.

Rakeback is a percentage of the money the casinos charge that goes back to poker players. So the idea is that even if you do not lose playing poker, you can still make a living with the rake you get back from the casinos.

How to make a living off Rakeback 

The idea behind living off Rakeback is that even if you do not win or lose any money during a whole month playing poker, your Rakeback could be like a salary. 

Let’s take a look at an example to see exactly how this can be achieved:

Let’s consider an online poker player, that plays 0.5/1 NL, and at the end of the month, the casino charged $10,000 in rake. Depending on the Rakeback program offered by the online poker room, he may get back a good chunk of those $10,000. 

Some poker rooms can pay up to 60% Rakeback, which means the player would receive $6,000. This is a big enough sum to make a living playing poker, even if you do not win or lose.

This shows that it is possible to make a living off poker, just through Rakeback. If you add on top of the Rakeback possible winnings, you are looking at a very nice salary every month.

How Rakeback changed the professional poker scene

Since the poker boom most online casinos have cut down on the Rakeback offers they had. Most notably Pokerstars, which had one of the best Rakeback programs that truly rewarded players that played professionally. 

However, over the years, these online poker websites started cutting down on the Rakeback played, which made it even more difficult for semi-pro and professional players to make a living from poker.

This brings us to the main risks associated with this strategy.

Why living off Rakeback is a risk

While living off Rakeback is possible, it presents several risks. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Rakeback can be reduced
  • You need to play a lot of hands
  • You can’t lose
  • Poker variance might still affect your earnings
  • It will be difficult to live off Rakeback playing live poker

Rakeback can be reduced

One of the biggest risks with trying to live off Rakeback is that at any point in time the poker room might change its rules on it. If you are making a decent salary at 50% Rakeback, a possible cut to 25% could put you and your family under financial stress.

This is one of the reasons why it is a risky approach because it does not depend directly on you.

You need to play a lot of hands

Even if you do not win large sums of money through your playing alone, you will still need to play a lot of hands and get involved in large pots. The more you get involved in large pots the higher your rake will be, and this can also cause dissonance between hands that should be played, and others that should be avoided.

You can’t lose

Even if you don’t win, you also can’t lose. If you are a losing poker player trying to start a poker with this approach you will fail. At least you need to be a break-even player, where your bankroll stays the same throughout the months ahead. You can even use this strategy to improve your game, and later on, become a winning poker player.

Poker variance might still affect your earnings

Even if you are not winning, poker variance might still impact your odds, and you might even have losing months. However, if you are able to adapt and deal with it, you should have no problem recovering that money, and rebuilding your poker bankroll.

It will be difficult to live off Rakeback playing live poker

Living off Rakeback is only possible if you play online poker for two reasons. One of them is that online poker rooms often offer larger Rakeback percentages because their costs are lower than physical casinos.

Additionally, in a live poker setting, you will only be able to play an average of 30 hands an hour. This is far too slow to be able to accumulate a sizeable rake at the end of the month. For that reason, you should focus on higher-stakes games, played online, so you can play multiple tables at the same time.

Advantages of living off Rakeback

Even if there are some disadvantages to living off poker Rakeback, this approach to poker has plenty of advantages. Here are some of the main ones:

  • You don’t need to be a winning player
  • You can improve your game while making a hefty paycheck
  • Less pressure to win

You don’t need to be a winning player

The most surprising thing about this approach to making a living playing poker is that you don’t even need to be that good. Although it does not take the same amount of skill to be a winning player as a break-even player, you will still need to play very well to not lose in some high-stakes games. 

You can improve your game while making a hefty paycheck

If you want to become a professional poker player, and you are unsure how to do it, this can be one of the best ways to practice and improve your game. You will be playing full-time, developing your strategies, and studying the game while making money.

Less pressure to win

It can be a relief to some poker players that they do not need to win to take money home. This alleviates a lot of pressure to play better and improve, and it can also be comforting to know you don’t even need to win to earn a paycheck.

Choosing the right poker room is essential to living off Rakeback

If you want to try this approach, the most important thing to do is to choose the right poker room, that has the highest Rakeback. Avoid poker rooms that give you chests, and anything of the sort. You want to make sure you receive Rakeback in hard cash that you can use. 

What stakes do you have to play to live off Rakeback?

Depending on where you live you may need to play higher stakes to be able to live off Rakeback. To make around $1,000 a month in Rakeback you will have to play at least 1/2 NL or 2/4 NL to be able to achieve that amount. This will also depend on how many hands you are playing and if you are playing aggressively or not.

You will also need to play around 50,000 or so hands every month, otherwise, you cannot guarantee that the rake reaches the required level to get it back.

If you need more than just $1,000 a month, you will either have to play more hands or play higher stakes.

What bankroll do you need to live off Rakeback

There are a lot of opposing views among the poker community on how many buy-ins your bankroll should have. Some people will advocate for 20, to 40. However, the best approach to taking this as a serious career is to have at least around 80 buy-ins. This gives you enough peace of mind, and it also makes it easier to deal with poker variance in the short term.

Can you live off Rakeback playing cash games or tournaments?

It is possible to live off Rakeback with both cash games and tournaments, although if you play cash games you will have to play a lot of hands and get into large pots. In the case you try to do it with tournaments, you will have to play multiple tournaments weekly, and try to get into the large ones even if through a satellite.

Conclusion

While this may seem like one of the craziest approaches you have ever heard on how to live off poker, it is definitely a worthwhile strategy that has allowed thousands of semi-professional poker players to make a living. Rakeback is an essential part of the game, that constantly rewards players and keeps them coming back. 

It is also an interesting way to make any semi or professional poker player’s income more stable. Always do your research before jumping head first into this, and you might even want to try this out for a few months before committing totally to this.

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