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Poker news | Jan 23, 2024

What is poker rake?

By RTR Alex

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In the realm of poker, where strategic prowess and nerve-wracking bluffs reign supreme, there's an often overlooked aspect that affects every player's bottom line - the poker rake.

Whether you're playing in live games at brick-and-mortar casinos or participating in online poker tournaments, the rake is a fundamental concept that directly influences the amount of money you take home after each hand.

In this article, we'll delve into the depths of what poker rake is, how it works, and why it matters for both online and live poker games.

What is Poker Rake?

The poker rake is essentially the fee charged by the house or poker room for facilitating the game. It's a small percentage of the pot or a fixed amount taken from each hand in cash games. This fee is the primary source of revenue for both online poker sites and live card rooms.

Rake in Cash Games

In cash games, the rake is typically a percentage of the pot, usually ranging from 2% to 10%, depending on the poker room and the stakes being played. For example, if you're playing in a $1/$2 no-limit Texas Hold'em game with a 5% rake, and the pot reaches $100, the house will take $5 before the remaining $95 is distributed to the winner(s). Understanding the rake structure is crucial for poker players looking to maximise their profits.

Different Rake Structures

Poker rooms employ various rake structures, with some opting for a "no flop, no drop" policy. This means that if the hand ends before the flop, no rake is taken. However, many rooms utilise the "flop no drop" system, where the rake is only collected if the flop is dealt. Different structures cater to the preferences of poker players and can significantly impact the amount of rake generated.

Rake in Online Poker

For those playing online, the concept remains similar, but the mechanics differ. Online poker sites may charge a small fee for each poker hand played, often referred to as a "rake per hand" model. Additionally, online poker rooms may implement time collection, where players are charged based on the time spent at the table rather than per hand.

Rake in Poker Tournaments

In poker tournaments, the rake is typically incorporated into the buy-in, commonly known as the entry fee. The total buy-in is divided into the prize pool for winners, with a percentage going to the house as the rake. For example, in a $100 buy-in tournament with a 10% rake, $90 goes to the prize pool, and $10 is collected by the poker room.

Maximum Amount and High Raked Games

Many poker rooms implement a cap on the maximum amount of rake collected from a single hand. This ensures that even in high-stakes games, players aren't subjected to exorbitant fees. However, it's essential for players to be aware of the rake structure, especially in high raked games, where the impact on profits can be significant.

Rake in Live Games vs. Online Games

The dynamics of rake differ between live and online poker. In live games, the dealer often collects the rake manually, while online poker sites have automated systems to handle this process. Playing online can be advantageous as the automated systems ensure consistency and transparency, eliminating the potential for human error in rake collection.

The Dead Drop

In some live games, especially in casinos, a fixed amount known as the "dead drop" is collected by the house regardless of the pot size. This method simplifies the rake structure but may be less favourable for players in smaller games where the dead drop represents a larger percentage of the overall pot.

Time-Based Rake in Online Poker

In the realm of online poker, another prevalent method of rake collection is the time-based approach. Instead of extracting a percentage from each hand, online poker rooms may charge players based on the time spent at the table. This approach is particularly common in cash games, where players contribute a fixed amount per hour or per half-hour of play.

The advantage of time collection is that it allows players to have a clearer understanding of the cost associated with their gaming sessions. However, it is essential to be mindful of the time spent at the poker table, as the cumulative effect can still impact your overall profitability.

Maximising Profits and Managing Rake

For poker players, understanding the nuances of rake becomes a strategic imperative. Maximising profits involves not only winning hands but also effectively managing the impact of rake on your bankroll. Here are some key strategies to consider:

1. Selecting Games Wisely

  • Choose games with lower rake percentages to minimise the impact on your winnings.

  • Be aware of the maximum amount of rake that can be collected in high-stakes games.

2. Online Poker Site Selection

  • Explore different online poker sites and their rake structures to find platforms that align with your playing style.

  • Consider loyalty programs and bonuses offered by online poker sites, as they can offset the impact of rake over time.

3. Bankroll Management

  • Factor in the cost of rake when determining your bankroll requirements.

  • Avoid high raked games if they exceed a reasonable percentage of your overall bankroll.

4. Tournament Rake Awareness

  • Understand how the rake is incorporated into tournament buy-ins.

  • Evaluate the value of tournaments based on the prize pool and rake structure.

5. Time Awareness in Online Poker

  • Keep track of your time at the online poker table, especially in time collection games.

  • Consider the balance between playing time and the impact of rake on your overall profitability.

Evolving Rake Structures in Poker

As the poker landscape evolves, so does the approach to rake structures. Poker rooms continually experiment with different models to enhance player experience and maintain a competitive edge. Players should stay informed about these changes to adapt their strategies accordingly.

The Future of Poker Rake

With the increasing popularity of online poker, the future of poker rake may see further innovation. As technology advances, poker rooms may introduce new ways to calculate and collect rake, providing players with even more transparency and control over their gaming expenses.

Rakeback with RakeTheRake

Now you know everything about Poker Rake, it’s time to find out how you can put some of the rake you pay straight back into your pockets with RakeTheRake!

Check out our full article on poker rakeback and why it's so important.