How PokerStars Rewards Players
What can we say about PokerStars that hasn't already been said? PokerStars is far and away the largest online poker room in the world, so you know they must be doing something right. This iconic poker site doesn't rely on reputation alone to attract new players and impress returning ones, though. PokerStars sets traffic records by offering an unparalleled variety of games and promotions, and they reward their loyal players through a number of different bonus programs.
That being said, what PokerStars doesn't offer its members is rakeback, at least not under that term. All of PokerStars' play-oriented benefits are awarded through its VIP Program. Unfortunately there's no way around it; if you want more from your time at PokerStars then you've got to learn how to work the VIP system.
How does the PokerStars VIP Program work? To put it simply, the more you play the more it pays. That's putting the basis for the program very simply though. In truth, the value of the VIP Program varies from player to player and is based not merely on how often you play or at what stakes level you play, but can also vary depending on the size or type of games you play. By comparison, figuring rakeback is much easier because it awards a set percentage of all eligible pots.
How can I get the most from the VIP Program? Some players receive far more from the VIP Program than others, and it's not just because they're throwing more money around at the poker tables. There are currently six different levels to the VIP Program, and each level offers different benefits. For example, every PokerStars player starts out at the BronzeStar level. At this level, you can use your frequent player points (FPPs) to purchase BronzeStar tournament entries or items at the VIP Store. Your only access to cash, though, comes in the form of the Stellar Rewards pyramid that is available to everyone.
At the other end of the VIP spectrum is the top level - Supernova Elite. Players at this level earn FPPs and VIP player points (VPPs) at a much faster rate, allowing them to build larger point balances in a shorter amount of time. They have access to exclusive merchandise in the VIP Store and to far more cash back options. These players get discounts on live tournaments and free entry to a number of large and prestigious online tournaments.
How do you move up the VIP levels? Your VIP status is determined by how many VPPs you earn in a set time period. For example, eligibility for SilverStar, GoldStar and PlatinumStar levels is determined on a monthly basis. If you don't maintain the same level of play consistently from month to month then you will fall down the VIP ladder. VPPs are awarded for playing in ring games and cash tournaments. They have no cash value apart from determining your VIP level, though for lower level players they are awarded at the same rate as FPPs.
Is the PokerStars VIP Program better or worse than rakeback? Comparing PokerStars' VIP Program to rakeback is like comparing apples and oranges; each have their own unique attributes, but which is better really depends on personal taste. A lot of serious poker players prefer rakeback because it's straightforward and offers the same value long-term. That is, you earn your rakeback payments at the same rate and in the same way from month to month, and they are always paid as cash that you can either play or withdraw as you see fit.
Alternately, some players prefer PokerStars' VIP Program because it offers them more options and an opportunity to grow. Oddly enough, players earn VPP points in much the same way that players at other sites earn rakeback. The obvious downside to the VIP Program, though, is that it offers far fewer opportunities to turn your points into cash.