Virtually every online poker room offers its players a loyalty program of some sort. Some poker sites - namely PokerStars - distribute all their play-based rewards through their VIP program. When that's the case, your ability to work the VIP program to your full advantage becomes critical to your bottom line because cash back and bonus opportunities are directly related to your VIP participation.
How do VIP programs work?
The structure of VIP programs like the one used by PokerStars is pretty straightforward. Members earn points for every set amount of money that they play. At most poker sites, this point accumulation is automatic and only requires that you play cash games. Unlike rakeback programs where only ring game pots are used to calculate your rewards, VIP programs award points for both tournaments and ring games.
How can I get more from a VIP program?
Since most VIP programs operate on a pyramid system, you'll earn better rewards for attaining a higher membership level. Playing on double or triple point days is one easy way to accelerate your point earnings. Since points and their associated VIP level can expire - usually after a month - it's important that you know the terms of the program, use your points before they expire and maintain your membership level.
What can I get with VIP points?
Not all VIP programs allow their members to use their points to get cash back. PokerStars' VIP program does offer cashback incentives, but the amount you are eligible for will depend on your level. If a cash back option isn't available to you, then you can still use your points to buy tournament entries. The VIP stores also offer a wide array of poker merchandise, but buying said merchandise obviously won't help your bankroll.