PokerStars.com is the world’s largest online poker site and also offers the best VIP rewards program in the industry. In this article we’ll cover full details of the PokerStars VIP program and how it translates in terms of a rakeback percentage. The first thing we’ll state up front is PokerStars intentionally makes the VIP program a little difficult to understand. Perhaps the reason for this is the program was designed to market to recreational players as opposed to rake back grinders and online poker pros, when in fact the reality is; the VIP program is a thinly veiled way to provide players rakeback.
We’ll do our best to break down the program in a logical order making it easier to understand. Two terms we’ll be referring to often in this PokerStars VIP program review are VPP and FPP. The first stands for VIP Player Points, the second for Frequent Player Points. VIP Player Points (VPP) act simply as the base. Clearing bonuses are based off VPP and progressing through PokerStars VIP tier levels (which we’ll explain soon) are also based of VPP.
Players do not store a VPP balance, again this is just a base, rather each time they earn a VPP they are given a certain number of Frequent Player Points (FPP) based on their VIP tier level. To understand this we need to look at the VIP levels. PokerStars VIP Levels The below charts show the PokerStars VIP levels and the points required to earn each level.
The first four levels of the PokerStars VIP plan are based on monthly earnings. When you reach a new level you’re guaranteed to keep that level for the remainder of the month AND for the month that follows. The second two levels of the PokerStars VIP program, Supernova and Supernova Elite are based on annual point earnings. These levels supersede the other VIP levels and you’ll keep your Supernova status for the remainder of the year. Also PokerStars extends Supernova status the flowing year from January through the end of September provided you earn at least 7,500 VPPs every month, missing no more than one month.
PokerStars VIP Program Benefits - At PokerStars you’ll want to reach the highest VIP level possible as the higher level you reach the more FPP you’ll be awarded for each VPP. For example as a Platinum Star VIP each time you earn 1 VPP your account is credited with 2.5 FPP. These FPP have a cash value equivalent which we’ll soon get to in this review. First we need to understand how VPP are calculated.
How to Earn PokerStars VPP As we mentioned several times in this article, VIP Player Points (VPP) act as a base method for calculating bonuses, reaching VIP levels and for determining how many FPP to award each player. Here is how they are earned.
Shorthanded Tables and Tournaments: Each dollar of rake is worth 5.5 VPP. In tournaments you keep the full amount as you’re paying rake (an entry fee) direct. For example, when you play a $20+$2 tournament you’re awarded 11 VPP because $2 in rake times 5.5 VPP equals 11. When playing shorthanded ring game tables, which are defined as any table with 7 or less seats regardless of how many players are seated, the pots rake is shared by all players who were dealt card. For example if the pot was raked 75 cents and there were 5 players seated each player contributed 15 cents of rake and therefore will earn ($0.15 rake x 5.5 VPP) 0.825 VPP.
Full Ring Tables: Each dollar of rake is worth 6 VPP. A full ring table is defined as one that has eight or more seats, regardless of how many players are actually seated. To give an example a pot is raked $2.00 and 8 players are seated, each paid 0.25 in rake and will earn (0.25 x 6 VPP) 1.5 VPP. With all this covered we’ll now get into the true value of the PokerStars VIP Program.
Value of PokerStars FPP (Frequent Player Points) At PokerStars players are awarded Frequent Player Points (FPP) each time they earn a VIP Player Point VPP. The rate is determined by a players VIP level. A Bronze Star earns 1 FPP per VPP, a Silver Star 1.5 FPP per VPP, a Gold Star 2 FPP per VPP, a Platinum Star 2.5 FPP per VPP, a Supernova 3.5 VPP per FPP and a Supernova Elite 5 VPP per FPP. These FPP are redeemable in the VIP Store which is accessible from the PokerStars cashier.
The VIP store has a wide range of merchandise ranging from low end merchandise like pokerstars hats, t-shirts etc. poker books, etc to gift certificates, mid range items such as tournament entries, poker bonuses, and electronics and luxury items all the way up to a brand new Porsche Caymon S.
Important: what you need to realize is some items are a great deal, while others are a sucker buys. When used properly an FPP is worth between 1.59 and 1.61 cents to most players. To calculate this take the dollar value of the item and divide that by the # of FPP required to purchase that particular item. We did some calculations of FPP items you can see below:
FPP Value of Bonuses: $25 Bonus - 1.00 cent/FPP, $50 Bonus - 1.11 cents/FPP, $300 Bonus - 1.20 cents/FPP, $650 Bonus - 1.30 cents/FPP, $1,500 Bonus - 1.5 cents/FPP and $4,000 Bonus - 1.6 cents/FPP.
Tournament Tickets: $2,100 Step 6 - 1.60 cents/FPP, $700 Step 5 - 1.61 cents/FPP, $530 ticket - 1.61/FPP, $215 ticket 1.59/FPP, $82 Step 3 Ticket - 1.6 cents/FPP and $27 Step 2 ticket 1.54 cents/FPP.
Concierge Service: $500 Concierge - 1.613/FPP. The next thing worth noting is that you’ll need to be a certain VIP level to purchase some of these items. For example the concierge service is only available to Supernova and most of the tournament tickets are only available to Silver Star up.
Poor Value FPP Items: Most of the poker bonuses are poor valued items, as is a lot of the electronics and poker gear offered.
Best Value FPP Items: The best value items are concierge service, Step 3-7 tickets, $215 tournament tickets and $530 tournament tickets. While FPP are the heart of the PokerStars VIP Program there are several other parts of it which we’ll cover below.
PokerStars VIP Stellar Awards During the calendar year each time you reach a certain number of VIP credits you’ll earn a Stellar Award, which is a cash bonus. You can earn up to $1,000 in Stellar Awards per year. Once you’ve earned the required number of VPP points head to the PokerStars VIP store and purchase this bonus for 1 FPP, the bonus is credited as cash and requires no play through to clear. Here is the PokerStars Stellar Awards chart:
PokerStars Milestone Cash Credits Supernova VIPs can purchase cash from the VIP store each time they earn reach a certain VPP milestone within the calendar year. Details are as follows:
100,000 VPP = $1,000 Cash Bonus
200,000 VPP = $3,400 Cash Bonus
300,000 VPP = $3,600 Cash Bonus
Note: this goes on and on, for example: the 1,250,000 VPP level is $10,000 cash bonus.
You can view all levels inside the PokerStars Vip Store which is accessible from the cashier.
PokerStars Bonus Offers PokerStars offers new players a 100% up to $600 sign up bonus which requires 170 VPP to clear each $10.00. PokerStars also offers several reload deposit bonuses throughout the year. During 2008 and 2009 a total of $1,280 in reload bonuses were offered so you can expect about $640 extra each and every year in the form of a bonus. Get your first deposit bonus now.
PokerStars Rakeback Equivalent Now that we’ve covered many of the VIP program details it’s time to take a look on how the PokerStars VIP program compares to rakeback offers of other online poker sites: PokerStars Rakeback for new sign-ups: When joining PokerStars to get the max out of their sign up bonus you’ll want to get to Platinum Star the same month you sign up and get your $600 deposit bonus, and then complete the bonus no later than the following month. The bonus clears in $10 increments for every 170 VPP earned, so to clear your full bonus you’ll need to earn 10,200 VPP.
When you follow our suggestion you’ll have accumulated 19,875 FPP. You’ll use 7 of these FPP to purchase Stellar Awards totaling $150.00 leaving you with 18,868 FPP. As we covered earlier in this article when used correctly each FPP is worth an average of 1.6 cents so you’ll have $301.89 worth of FPP to use. When we add this all up you’ll see your total bonuses with actual bonus, milestone and FPP value considered is $1051.89.
To earn 10,200 VPP at shorthanded tables or tournament you’ll have paid $1854.55 in rake. To earn the same in full ring you’ll have paid $1,700 in rake. This translates to 56.7% to 61.9% rakeback for new players during the sign up bonus period.
PokerStars Rakeback for Bronze Star : A Bronze Star earns between 8.8 and 9.6 cents worth of FPP for each dollar they pay in rake, so at minimum they are earning 8.8% to 9.6% rakeback. This assumes however no stellar awards or bonuses. If this Bronze Star player averaged 416.67 VPP per month they’d receive $100 in Stellar Awards. This would bring them to 5,000 VPP for the year which cost $833.00 to $909.1 in rake. Their 5000 FPP are worth $80, add this to the $100 stellar awards and we have $180.00 return which equates to 19.8% to 21.6%. However we also left out bonuses, theoretically it is possible for a player earning 5,000 VPP a year to clear $290 worth of reload bonus which means their rakeback actually could be as high as 56.4%.
PokerStars Rakeback for Silver Star: To keep things simple we’ll assume a Silver Star player mostly does the minimum 750 VPP required each month, but also makes that small push at the end to pick up the 10,000 VPP stellar award. Their 10,000 VPP cost them between $1,666.67 and $1,818.18 in rake. After using 7 of their FPP to pick up $150 in Stellar Awards they are left with 14,993 worth $239.89. This is a total return of 389.89, but we also need to factor in bonuses. PokerStars offers at least 4 reload bonuses per year and based on the amount of play a Silver Star player averages they’ll most likely be able to clear $30-$40 in bonuses with each reload offered. This will come out to about $140 more in bonuses bringing the actual total return to $529.89 per month which equates to 29.1% to 31.8% PokerStars rakeback, and the true amount could be significantly higher if the player puts in more play when having pending bonus cash.
PokerStars Rakeback for Gold Star: A Gold Star player putting in the bare minimum 3000 VPP per month will earn 36,000 VPP per month which yields him 72,000 FPP and costs him between $6,000.00 and $6,545.46 in rake. A Gold Star puts in enough volume to take advantage fully of all reload bonuses PokerStars offers which we’ve already mentioned is a $640.00 per year average. They’ll use 12 FPP to purchase $400 worth of Stellar awards and be left with 71,988 FPP worth $1,151.81 bringing their total return to $2,191.81 which equates to 33.5% to 36.5% rakeback.
PokerStars Rakeback for Platinum Star: A Platinum Star playing for the minimum 7,500 VPP per month earns 90,000 VPP per year. Here we’ll assume this is too close to Supernova to pass up the chance, so the player makes the extra push and earns 100,000 VPP for the year. This equates to 250,000 FPP and it cost a player $16,667 to $18,181.82 in rake to reach this level. This player will use 19 FPP to purchase $1,000 in Stellar Awards, 50,000 FPP to purchase the $1,000 Supernova Milestone Award and will be left with 199,988 FPP worth $3199.81. Add all these to $640 in reload bonuses and the player has received a total return of $5,893.81 which equates to 32.11% to 35.4% rakeback. Note: Silver, Gold and Platinum Star players can increase their rakeback percentage by taking advantage or special tournaments you can read about on our page PokerStars VIP Freerolls.
PokerStars Rakeback for Supernova: A player who starts the year off as Supernova and then earns the required 100,000 to maintain it for the year to follow will pay $16,667 to $18,181.82 in rake. 50,012 of their 350,000 FPP will go towards Stellar Rewards and the 100K milestone for $2,000 in bonuses, plus they should clear an average of $640 in reload bonuses bringing the total to $2,640. Their remaining 299,988 FPP will have been used for concierge service redemptions adding an additional value of $4,829.81 to the total. Supernova VIPs also can take part in quarterly Million Dollar quarterly freerolls which have been averaging a value of $288 per player. Playing four of these per year is an additional $1,152 in kickbacks bringing the total return to $8,621.81 which is 47.4 to 51.7% rakeback for a PokerStars Supernova VIP.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the PokerStars VIP program is you don’t have to worry about deductions. When you play under a rakeback deal at another online poker site they’ll ding your rakeback for things such as deposit fees, promo cash, marketing costs and just about anything else. PokerStars VIP program works much like a rakeback program but without any deductions, plus it is available to all members of their site. To get started playing at the internet’s largest and most generous online poker room visit www.pokerstars.com.