What Is Rake in Poker and How to Know if it’s Fair?
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already joined an online Texas hold’em room and want to make use of those online poker rakeback offers. But what is a rake in poker? In a nutshell, a rake is a fee that casinos and online poker sites collect for organizing the game.
In poker, players play for each other’s money. That leaves casinos and your online poker room at a disadvantage from a financial standpoint. So the operators of the game came up with a solution: a poker rake. A rake by definition is a scalable commission fee that the cardroom collects for running the game.
There are a variety of methods to collect the rake. It’s usually obtained as a percentage of the pot in each hand. With this system, the poker room will take a percentage of the money from the player who wins the hand. Think of rake as a small participation fee. But bear in mind that online poker players don’t lose much money because the online poker rake generally ranges from 2.5% to 5% of the pot.
For example, if a hand of poker ends with $100 in the pot and the cardroom takes $5, the winner still walks away with $95. Casinos typically set a cap, a maximum amount that can be raked per pot. That means if the cap is $5, the casino will only take the $5 in rake regardless of the pot amount.
The Different Types of Poker Rake
The Pot Rake
In cash games, the dealer removes a small percentage of the pot after a hand is completed. In most online poker rooms, no rake is taken from the pot before the hand makes it to the flop. If a player raises pre-flop and everyone folds, the casino takes no rake. Typically, casinos take between 2.5% and 10% of the total pot for this type of rake.
In some casinos, a dead drop is used to ensure all players pay the same rake. In these instances, the player on the button pays a set amount to the dealer before the cards are dealt. Unlike the pot rake, in which only the winner pays the rake, every player pays approximately the same rake amount in dead drop. Given that the button rotates after each hand, the dead drop creates a sense of equality between all players, but is basically another way for brick-and-mortar casinos to make money.
Also referred to as timed rake, this method involves the collection of a fixed fee, typically every half-hour. Many of the best poker sites, especially those based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, prefer the pot rake method because it’s more popular among players.
Instead of having their dealers calculate the percentage of different pot sizes after each hand, casinos may use a different rake structure – a fixed fee from each pot. Fixed fees are typically applied in higher-stakes games because players don’t want a large percentage of a $1,000+ pot to be raked every hand.
Tournament fees are common practice in most cardrooms. On average, the rake is 10% of the tournament buy-in. To keep things separate, casinos charge the fee in excess of the prize pool. In addition to making money for the poker room, the fee covers a number of other expenses related to organizing the event.
In our explanation of rake, we made it clear that this is one of the methods through which cardrooms and game organizers generate revenue. But some online poker sites try to attract customers by offering no-rake tournaments. These special offers and promotions can be valuable to your bankroll strategy.
Impact of Rake
It’s important to understand how casinos rake poker when trying to chart a winning poker strategy. Good players factor in all of the fees and in low-stakes poker, the rake can be quite costly for winners. But if you’re a winning player or a break-even player, this is just the cost of doing business. If you’re playing for fun, then it’s the cost of entertainment.
Still, the rake is necessary, as it enables operators to run online and live poker games. It also allows online poker sites to produce a constant stream of innovative games. Before you commit to a particular platform, it may be useful to do some research on its buy-in and rake requirements and identify the most competitive poker rooms with the best offers.
How to Beat the Poker Rake and Maximize Your Profits
You don’t have to be a math genius to understand that each time the casino takes $10 from a pot you win, you’ve actually lost that money. For example, you might be playing for a pot worth $200, but even if you win, you only walk away with $190. That’s why it’s crucial to figure out what is a rake in poker, because that number will only grow with time.
We’re not trying to criticize the practice of taking a rake. We’re trying to explain what you can do to mitigate the loss. The first thing you need to know is that there is a significant difference between online and live games when it comes to the impact of the rake. So you need to decide how much rake is too much for you. To lessen the blow, you should consider the following:
Avoid uncapped games and those with irrationally high rake caps. While there are casinos with a reasonable rake, there are many others that will undoubtedly try to squeeze as much money out of you as possible. This is why you should do your research on the rake percentage and the maximum cap before you start playing. If you’re focused on building your bankroll or making some extra money from poker, you need to stay away from the high rake environment.
Expand your hand ranges in timed collection. You’ve probably heard different opinions about the timed collection model, but you should know that once you pay the fee, you get to keep every single chip you win. This is because timed games reward the approach where you can afford to see more flops in order to build bigger pots.
It doesn’t mean you should play every hand because pots aren’t raked, but you should keep your mind on a good starting hand selection – particularly from the later positions – and definitely consider the big blind defend range.
Focus on leaderboards and competitions. Poker rakeback may be irrelevant in live poker, but some cardrooms have certain offers for their regular players. This may include a monthly leaderboard for players who spend a lot of time at the table. As a reward, these players will get some cash at the end of the month or a chance to participate in a special freeroll tournament.
These perks may be insignificant for recreational players, but if you’re more of a regular, such competitions can compensate for your rake payments.
Avoid small pots. This is a challenging task and requires access to a broad range of rooms and tournaments. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play in small local tournaments, as you need to build your experience. Moreover, if you’re good at poker, you still have a chance to beat the rake. But the high rake percentage will impact your earnings. The fact is that small-stakes live tournaments usually have a higher rake, ranging from 20% to 25% of the buy-in. This number decreases substantially in tournaments with higher stakes.
Getting a good rakeback deal in online games. Online players can benefit from a variety of rakeback deals and programs, which enables them to reduce the impact of the casino poker rake on their winnings.
Online poker rooms use one of three possible rakeback methods: contributed, dealt, or shared. Whichever method is used, rake is one of the basic elements of online poker. Now that you have a clear understanding of the general principles of rake and rakeback, it’s time to compare rake in different poker rooms and the two different poker disciplines.
Poker Rake Comparison
The percentage of rake at 6-max Texas hold’em tables
|Poker room||Rake percentage|
|PokerStars||3.5% to 5%|
|888poker||1% to 6%|
The average rake in almost all the rooms is 5%. The only differences relate to concrete limits.
The percentage of rake in spins (or their analogs):
|Poker room||Rake percentage|
|PokerStars||5% to 8%|
|888poker||6% to 10%|
|PartyPoker||4% to 8%|
The table shows that the most common global poker rake percentage in spins at low limits is between 7% to 8%.
The bottom line is that you need to understand rake indicators in your cardroom for both no-limit and pot-limit games if you intend to play poker regularly. This article offers valuable information on rake size in different poker rooms. Based on this information, you can select the most suitable room for your needs. When making your pick, bear in mind that a higher rake sucks up a portion of your profits. If the rake is too high, it may be better to skip the game entirely and stick to home games instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the rake in poker in Vegas?
At this moment, the lowest rake in Las Vegas is $3 maximum per pot, while the maximum rake is $5 per pot.
Why is taking a rake in poker illegal?
Since poker players gamble to claim each other’s money, the game organizers need to charge a fee to generate revenue. Taking a rake in poker is illegal if the party taking the rake doesn’t have the adequate gaming licenses and permits. On the other hand, playing poker for money at a private establishment isn’t illegal, provided there is no rake. If you’re still wondering what is a rake in poker, you probably don’t know that the instant you rake the pot, it’s no longer a private game but a serious gambling venture that requires the correct licensing and oversight.
What is the rake on PokerStars?
As of 2012, PokerStars has been using the linear rake system, which starts raking from the first cent. Although this may seem like bad news for regular players, this move meant PokerStars lowered its 5% rake and the size of the rake caps. With a set amount of rake and by lowering overall rake levels, PokerStars is still the site with the lowest rake online.