What are the catches & risks involving rakebacks?
Poker rake back offers have limits on them. It is really not worth the affiliate's time to offer them to the casual poker player as they are seen as never accumulating enough rake so these affiliates will go after the heavy duty player instead. The limits are, you have to contribute so much rake per month and you will then get a certain percentage of rake back depending on how much is accumulated. A risk is that the affiliate will get you to sign up and start playing and then stop paying you. They know that once a player gets comfortable at a poker room they will stick around a while. They are going to continue to get paid whether they keep giving you the rake-back promised or not, as long as you keep playing at that room.
So, why don't the rakeback offers include the sign up bonuses that I see everywhere else?
The poker rooms that do allow certain affiliates to offer these (some even track the stats for them) are not as likely to offer the rake back players the generous poker re-load bonuses. If you don't believe this, when was the last time that you saw even a sign up bonus link that was associated with a rakeback offer? Well, the answer is, you've never seen one. They won't offer that deal. Really, all they are doing is substituting the bonuses that are offered by virtually all of the poker rooms for possible rake back deals instead. The affiliates just want the player period. Does not matter how they get them. And the player just wants the best deal and save as much money as possible. For the same reasons, you will see these same affiliates have funny rules such as; do not enter a code at sign up. Is it possible they wish to avoid accidentally triggering a bonus code? You be the judge.
In reality, only the very high stakes, every day, thousands of hands per month, poker player will truly benefit from a rake back program in any serious way. Everyone else will make much more back just in the signup and reload bonuses. And for those that use them, the rake-back benefits will not make up for the bonus losses right away. It will happen, but takes time. And if you are that serious of a poker player why not go to a poker room that doesn't play games like we'll give you a great rakeback offer but never offer you bonuses. Instead, try a poker room that doesn't advertise the heck out of their bonus offers, offers a real rake back program, and you don't have to worry about if you are going to be paid or not or get your account closed.
My account can be closed?
Yes. Because another issue to keep in mind when looking at rakeback offers is that all of the poker rooms have rules about only having one poker account. The player will have to decide if it is worth the risk of losing their account at a room they like playing in if they wish to start a duplicate account (using another name) to get the latest rake back offer.
Can players actually lose money joining a rakeback program?
Yes. Here is an example. Let's start with a player that contributes $50 in rake per month to a poker room. This amount is higher that what the majority of the average poker players contribute each month. Say there is a 20% rake back offered on their $50 a month rake contribution. Then there is a sign up bonus of up to $350 going on currently at one of the poker rooms. The $50 of rake contribution nets a $10 rate back rebate. Let's see here: $350 vs. $10. It would take the $50/month rake contributor 35 months - almost 3 years - to make up for the sign up bonus lost/never offered. Even the smallest sign up bonus of $25 would take 2 1/2 months to equal in rake back. And this doesn't even factor in the re-load bonuses that are offered every month to regular players.
My suggestion, if a player is looking to get some of the rake back fees rebated without the risk of either losing a valued player account or possibly getting ripped off, either go to the one legitimate poker room that offers rakebacks or use one of the multitude of bonus offers as a substitute. A player can easily find generous bonus offers online. And most, if not all, poker rooms offer re-load bonuses. The facts are that unless the player is spending and playing thousands of hands/dollars month after month, the bonuses will far outpace rake back refunds.