Best Poker VIP Program

Find out which poker rooms have the top VIP rewards program

When most people think of a casino loyalty program, they probably think of getting a free buffet every now and again.  By contrast, online poker VIP programs are serious and complex systems that return millions of dollars to players annually.  For many players, the rewards they receive from the VIP or Loyalty Program at an online poker room represent most or all of their profit. 

Bottom line:  Anyone serious about making money at online poker must understand how VIP programs work.  That's the goal of this page, where we'll fill you in on how to extract maximum value from such programs and then identify some of the rooms that offer the top-rated VIP programs for online poker players.

round bottom

What is a Poker VIP Program

VIP programs vary significantly from room to room when it comes to the details, but at the core nearly all VIP programs work the same way: VIP programs basically return part of the rake players pay back to the player. 

Now, rooms don't like to remind players of how much rake they're actually paying, so they use some intermediary to express that amount.  Usually, a room will employ "player points" (or something similarly titled) as a stand-in for rake.  So, you get these points when you pay rake, and then your points are used to determine your VIP status and to qualify for / receive rewards.  Generally, the more you play, the better your VIP status becomes and the rewards you get increase.  Easy enough.

How to Calculate Effective Value of a VIP Program

It's beyond the scope of this page to break down the value of every online poker VIP program, so instead we're going to provide you with the basic tools to conduct such breakdowns on your own.

You start by identifying two core numbers: How much a point costs you to earn, and how much value you can then get for that point.  Let's start with how much a point costs you to earn.  To get this number, you just need to know how many points you earn for each dollar / euro / pound of rake you pay.  This information is generally available on the room's website or should be easily acquired from support.  Dividing the dollar by the number of points you get for that dollar (or euro, or pound) returns your cost-per-point.  For example, bet365 Poker awards 17 points (called Merit Points at bet365) per dollar in rake, so you effectively "pay" about .06 in rake to earn each individual Merit Point.

On to value-per-point.  Most VIP programs allow you to buy cash bonuses or tournament entries, making calculating the value of an individual point a fairly simple exercise.  An example from bet365: The room offers a $55 tournament entry for 7,500 points, making the value of each point  about .007.

Now that we have these two numbers for a room, we can figure out the most important value: Our percentage of rake returned via the VIP program.  We pay about .06 per point and can get about .007 per point back, so we're looking at about a 11% return.

This is a very simplistic example, but it does provide you with the basic formula you should use to calculate the value of a VIP program at an online poker room.  To recap:  Figure out how much points cost, how much points are worth, and then divide the worth by the cost to reveal what percentage of rake paid a VIP or Loyalty program returns.

VIP Value Must Be Balanced Against Other Factors

While the value of a VIP program is certainly an important factor in any poker player-s decision-making process, it's not the only thing that matters.  One important thing to keep in mind is that the formula above only returns a relative value based on how much rake a room charges.  If one room returns 50% of the rake you pay but charges you three times the amount of rake than a room that only returns 25%, the room with the lower return number is still a better overall value.  Remember, your VIP rewards don't come from thin air - they come from the rake you pay at a room, so understanding how much rake rooms charge relative to one another is a critical part of accurately comparing VIP programs.

Another important factor to not overlook is the relative softness or toughness of the games at a room.  Even if one room offers a very attractive VIP program, it could still be a worse place to play if the games are significantly tougher than the games at another room with weaker VIP value.  You get the idea - value comes from a lot of places when you're playing online poker, so it's critical to always keep the bigger picture in mind and not get too wrapped up in any one aspect of what a room offers.

Top VIP Program for High Volume Players

The PokerStars VIP program has long been the gold standard for high volume online poker players.  With tens of thousands - hundreds at the top level - in rewards, the upper echelons of the VIP Program at PokerStars is more or less the promised land for many in the online poker community.  For those that play high stakes or very high volume, the level of rewards tops out at a number (above 90% by some calculations) that other poker rooms just don't approach - plus, it comes with the intangible value of being the object of envy among your online poker playing friends.

Best Loyalty Program Value for Low Volume Players

Where PokerStars does stumble a bit is in the value it provides to those at the bottom of the VIP ladder.  For those that play casually or at very low stakes, the rewards simply don't add up at PokerStars (after all, someone has to subsidize the extravagant rewards given to those at the top tiers). 

We suggest Party Poker for those who fall into that category of player; the room recently retooled their VIP program (and their room at large) to focus more on casual players, a retooling that increased the base value of the VIP program for those at the opening and low levels.  The Party VIP program is also quite straightforward and easy to break down, a bonus for players just getting started with online poker.

Highest Value VIP Programs Among US-Friendly Rooms

Here Carbon Poker takes top honors.  The room offers a well-balanced VIP program that spreads rewards fairly evenly across tiers, with solid value for casual players and returns approaching 50% for high volume players at the top of the program.  Carbon's program is well-structured, easy to evaluate and lacks any restrictive fine print or terms - earn points, increase your status and claim better rewards. 

Newsletter Signup - Get 10 free poker tips as well as our newsletter April 14, 2024