Rake is the term for what poker players pay to play poker on a poker site. Rake is how poker rooms make money. The poker sites deducts a certain amount from every cash game pot, or have the player pay an extra fee on top of the buy in for every tournament and Sit and Go. The poker sites average a 5% rake across all their games. With the volume of players and hands, that accumulates into a tremendous amount of money. Years ago, some high raking players approached the poker rooms about receiving some incentive to remain loyal to the poker site due to their high volume. About the same time, some poker sites learned that offering some of the rake back to new players was a good recruiting tool to differentiate themselves and encourage new players to play on their site. These two forces combined to form the all important rakeback industry that we have today.
From those early day, a number of poker affiliates sprang up. The affiliates served the important role of recruiting players, organizing them, educating them and providing reliable rakeback reporting and customer service. By recruiting lots of rakeback players, they are often able to negotiate additional rewards for their members, on top of the great rakeback deals, in the form of rake races, rake chases and freerolls. They keep accurate rakeback records across multiple sites for the player, while ensuring payment from the poker rooms.
The reality is that for most sites, they don't openly advertise their rakeback. It represents a significant discount off the rake they charge for anyone who normally plays on their site. Many established sites won't offer rakeback to their poker players if they signed up directly to their poker room. In order to receive rakeback, it is usually necessary that you sign up for a new account at a specific poker room through a rakeback affiliate. Thus it is crucial when signing up for new poker room accounts to always do it through your rakeback provider.
You will be surprised at the rake you generate, even at the lower stakes. You almost don't notice paying it in, but it really adds up. You will find that most poker room rakeback deals fall in between 27% and 40% rake back. You receive that discount off your rake and back into your account either anywhere from daily to weekly or monthly. The amount of rakeback is totally dependent on your volume of play at your particular level.
Even if you are getting back just $1, it is still essentially free money that you aren't claiming. Any poker player who plays for real money should try to establish rakeback accounts at any poker sites that offer it. The rake that poker rooms charge is a significant impediment to your potential profitability, so any opportunity to lessen the rake will help make your poker playing more profitable.