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Poker news | Jun 30, 2022

How do poker rooms make money?

By RTR Alex

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If you're a poker pro, you probably already know that poker rooms, unlike casinos, don't make money by cashing in when you lose a bet - they turn a profit even when you win. But this may seem strange to some, since the winning player of a poker hand takes the whole pot, no? Well, sort of.

Thanks to a little thing called 'rake', poker rooms make money regardless of the outcome.

Poker rooms, whether online or classic brick and mortar, are in the business of making money. Just like casino games, they are always looking to turn a profit, they just do so in a different way.

The illusion is created that the house is not at all involved in the game by pitting players against each other. As a poker player, it seems as though you are not losing money to the house, instead to the winner of the pot. But, this is where rake comes in.

What is rake?

Whether it's Texas Hold'em or Omaha, low stakes or high, you'll find rake all over the poker room and it can take a few different forms: tournament buy-ins, time collection, or small percentages of money taken from each cash game pot.

An example of money made from tournament buy-ins, is the rake taken from entries at the World Series of Poker:

At the 2021 WSOP Main Event, there was a $10,000 entry fee. The event host, The Rio Las Vegas, took a 4.725% cut from every single buy-in, as well as a 2.025% cut for staff and dealers - meaning only $9,325 was left to add to the prize pool.

Some rooms also charge players an hourly fee to play at their tables. In Las Vegas there are even some high stakes games that impose time charges, instead of taking rake from the cash games.

But by far the most common type of rake, is the percentage taken from the pot of every hand played:

Table/Pot Rake

Almost every online poker room and live table will take a cut from the pot.

The pot rake is usually between 2.5% and 10% of each hand, but tends to be a predetermined amount, so you should be able to find out before you ever even buy-in to a game. It may not seem like a huge amount, but for popular casinos it's really a quantity game - with the sheer number of hands played and pots raked, the profits add up rather quickly.

Some live tables will take a set dollar amount of each pot, regardless of the total count. For example: some Californian rooms take a flat rate of $5 from every pot that goes past the flop.

Other poker sites and locations may stagger their pot rake amounts as each hand develops. Raking a certain amount for each hand that reaches the flop, but adding additional rake as the hand goes further.

No Rake Games

Some rooms and sites will offer games with no commission - play for free and keep 100% of the pot. This may seem great, and perhaps it is if you stick to just those games, but most of the time, platforms can lure players in with offers like this and simply wait for them to explore more tables, where they'll start taking their cut.

Side Bets

A slightly rarer and certainly less profitable way some poker rooms make money, is using the side bet feature. This feature offers players the opportunity to place bets other than the ones at the table.

The whole purpose of a side bet is that you are no longer playing against the other players, you're betting against the house. Now, the odds will always provide a house edge, so winning side bets is quite a task. The money wagered on side bets will entirely go to the casino if the bet is lost, unlike regular bets that add to the communal pot.

The bottom line

Poker rooms will always take a cut of the money that sits at the table. Even if you're the greatest player there is, you'll always give up some of your winnings to the house, and rakeback is the only way to get some of that back - this is why we invented it back in 2005!

The best way to put some of that precious rake back in your pockets, whether you win or lose, would be to join RakeTheRake and take advantage of our exclusive offers and rakeback deals!