Poker VIP programsThis article was posted on September 3, 2007
The problems involving bonus whoring in online poker, became obvious quite a while back. The sign-up bonus war among online poker rooms was in full swing when it became apparent that it wasn't exactly serving the interests of the online poker industry to entice players to their tables, only to have them leave after they redeemed their bonuses.
The problem was not the fact that players walked away with the poker room's money (conditions to unlock bonuses were pretty harsh back then) but rather that rooms failed to exploit each individual player to his/her full potential.
There was a whole lot more money in a player who stayed loyal to his/her poker room and kept on playing there for years, than there was in a guy who came an went with the first deposit bonus.
Players too often felt frustrated by the system, which gave them an initial push and motivation to play, only to completely abandon them afterwards, and force them to move on to a different room where they could start over again.
Something had to be done, and different types of loyalty rewards were to follow soon. Re-deposit bonuses are the simplest and most rudimentary of these loyalty rewards, but if you take a good look at them, a series of flaws become obvious in the way they function: who really needs to make a re-deposit? A person who's lost all his bankroll, right? Since re-deposit bonuses are usually smaller than first-deposit ones, there's nothing to keep the guy from simply moving on to another room. There's also another fact hanging heavily in the balance: he's just been busted in this room.Why should he redeposit and see if those same guys can bust him again? A player who's on the winning side though, simply doesn't need to deposit, thus the room leaves its best rake-producers unrewarded.
This is where VIP programs come into play. To a poker room, a player who generates a lot of rake is the most valuable asset. They need to find a way to keep him playing there, and in the same time to stimulate him into "keeping up the good work".
Rake rebate and cashback programs directly reward good rake-generating players, no wonder they're usually tied in with a VIP program.
A VIP program seeks to selectively reward players according to the value they represent for the poker room, and it does it in a very elegant manner. Poker points, Frequent Player Points or VIP points are the currency used by any VIP program. The more of these points a player has, the higher up on the VIP ladder he will find himself, which will - in turn - mean added benefits for him, one way or another. Two good examples of VIP program are the Partypoker VIP, and Pokerstars VIP
The classic example in this sense would be a tiered rakeback or cashback program. Players get a set percentage of the rake they generate back, but this percentage can change as they hit higher and higher VIP ranks. They could get - for instance - 30% at lvl 1, 40% at lvl 2 and 50% at lvl 3. Whether one achieves a higher VIP level or not, is entirely dependant on the FPPs he gathers, and thus on the amount of real-money play he puts in.
Not only do VIP systems give payers the chance to create improved edges for themselves, they also add a RPG dimension to the game of online poker. A well put-together VIP program is one of those systems that benefit everyone: the player on one hand and the poker room on the other.