Online poker began with the first real money poker room opening in 1998. The advantages were many, poker players could now play up to ten times the number of hands per hour and pay lower rake than live games. Poker players enjoyed faster action and higher hourly profit rates.
By 2005 there was an estimated 1.8 million players playing at more than 250 online poker rooms. Players became concerned with the amount they were spending on rake and most poker rooms seemed reluctant to drop their rake prices. Some players were spending more than $20,000 per month on rake alone.
In 2005 was the appearance of the first rake back program, where players could signup under an affiliate and get paid a share of the affiliate’s earnings. Affiliates are people who get a percentage of the rake as compensation for advertising and recruiting new players to the poker room poker online.
Poker rooms share stories of turning dust into gold with their poker affiliate programs.
For most poker affiliates the story is often much tougher, because rake back affiliates are paying players to play at the poker rooms, many of their customers are in fact existing poker players, signing up with a second account to get rake back. Essentially stealing poker clients from existing poker affiliates.
Some poker rooms decided to ban the practice of offering cash incentives to sign up new players, sighting that it gave those affiliates an unfair advantage. Less money was spent on advertising and gaining new players with a new focus on converting existing players into rake back programs.
This did little to stop the avalanche of rake back programs appearing as they converted more and more players, for every poker room that disallowed the practice of rake back three others would open that allow it.
Even though there were these set backs, online poker continued to gain exposure through media and poker events like World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker.
In 2006 there was an estimated 3 million online players, almost double that of the previous year. A new concept in poker marketing launched, paying affiliates high commissions up to 35% and paying players 50% rake back. This new program insured affiliates of good profit margins and that players will not be lost to other rake back programs.
More than 60 online poker rooms are already using this new concept of high rake back and affiliate commissions.