What Is a Rake In Poker

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· 29 Mar 2022

Rake is a necessary evil in the poker world. It’s what real-world poker rooms and crypto casino websites use to calculate how much money goes into their coffers. It can have a significant impact on your bottom line, too. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about rake in the world of poker: how casinos calculate the pot, what are dead drop fees, what is timed collection, how much you can expect in tournament fees, and more.

We’ll also look at some of the situations most impacted by rake and ways to beat the rake in poker. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro, read on for all the information about rake you’ll ever need.

The Definition of Rake

In poker games, the rake is the fee that a casino or other licensed gaming establishment charges for hosting the game. This commission fee is measured compared to the buy-in, a percentage of the pot. It goes up to a maximum, predetermined amount, ensuring that it doesn’t fleece the players if the pots get large. So, what is a rake in poker? It’s a fee that covers the casino’s cost of hosting a poker game.

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Rake covers operational costs and overheads or ongoing expenses. That includes the cost of software, support, and other casino personnel for Bitcoin casinos. Traditional, brick-and-mortar locations and live casinos have to consider the costs of running the place: paying dealers, supervisors, servers, and the gaming equipment on the premises.

A rake is a fee usually going between 2.5% and 10% of the pot in each poker hand. Most casinos have an upper rake limit of how much money they can take, such as up to $5 per poker hand. In poker, a rake comes in one of several types that depend on the cardroom or the casino:

  • A pot percentage, primarily for cash games
  • A buy-in fixed percentage that’s used for tournaments
  • Timed collection for cash games
  • Fixed fee, usually found in cash games with higher stakes
  • Dead drop in brick-and-mortar casinos

Rake Calculations

There are several ways casinos can calculate rake, and it’s essential to know how each one works. Knowing different rakes is a crucial component of crypto and video poker tactics. Here’s a rundown of the most common methods of taking rake in a poker game.

Pot Rake

The pot rake is arguably the most complex way to calculate rake. It’s a percentage taken from the pot, with a capped maximum rake amount that goes to the house. That percentage goes anywhere between 2.5% and 10% of the pot in each hand.

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The pot rake is most commonly used in community card poker matches like Texas hold ’em poker and can often be found on crypto casino websites.

For example, if the pot is $100 and the rake is 7%, the casino would take $7 from the bank. If the maximum house rake for a poker game is $30, then that’s what they would take for a pot even if 7% would be more (i.e. in high-stakes games).

In a live casino or real casino game, a dealer removes rake in chips from the pot and places it in the drop box once the hand is completed. In a Bitcoin casino, the software automatically takes the rake. Some apps take cumulative rake between betting rounds, while others wait until the entire hand is played out.

Most poker sites and cardrooms have a “no flop, no rake” policy, where the hand that doesn’t have a flop will not have casino poker rake charges. A player who raises a preflop and takes down blinds wins the entire pot in these cases.

Dead Drop

With the dead drop method, the house takes a fixed amount from the player currently sitting in the dealer position, regardless of whether or not they win the hand. In a pot rake, the player who wins the pot takes the amount reduced by the rake, while here, all players have to contribute.

A predefined rake amount is placed next to the dealer button, and every player contributes to it once they take that position. What is a rake in a poker game, again? It refers to the fee that the casino dealer (or software in online poker) takes from the pot before dealing the cards.

For example, if the rake is set at 25% and you bet $100 in one hand, the casino would take $25 whether you won or lost.

Fixed Fee

The fixed fee method is another way for the casino to take a percentage of each pot, and it’s also a fixed amount rather than a percentage. With this method, each player at a table who wants to keep playing pays the fixed poker rake at casinos.

Fixed rake is used in high-stakes games with a $10,000 pot or more. Playing participants wouldn’t like to see a casino taking hundreds of dollars from every pot they win. Especially since some of them also have to think about paying additional Bitcoin betting taxes after the game.

Timed Collection

The timed collection method is similar to the fixed fee method, but you’re charged per unit of time instead of per hand. This means at specific moments, usually every 30 minutes, each player at the table hands over a fixed fee. For example, if the rake is $2 per 30 minutes and you play for two hours, the casino would take $8 per player in total.

This rake method is usually placed at high-stakes poker and wagers of $20 or more.

Tournament Fees

As a fee method, casino poker rake is mainly reserved for cash games, sometimes called ring games. Tournament fees function a bit differently. They are usually flat fees added to the tournament buy-in charges. For example, if the entry fee is $100 and the rake is $20, you’d pay $120 to enter the tournament.

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Every player pays this rake or vigorish if they want to compete in a tournament, whether organized in a  brick-and-mortar establishment or via a crypto poker site. Casinos decide the tournament fee, but most set it between 10% and 20%. There’s typically not much difference between an online and live poker rake, though, for larger online events, the rake can get a little smaller to attract more players.

It can be a disadvantage to players trying to win big prizes, so it’s best to look out for poker tournaments with the lowest tournament fees.

No Rake

The casino will charge no rake in some games such as heads-up matches, promotional tournaments, or low-stakes cash games. Online casinos sometimes do this to bring new players to the fold or as rewards for loyal punters who’ve been around for a while.

In truth, having no rake in poker games is rare, and casino sites with no-rake or freeroll tournaments without fees are a prized find. They can be a valuable way of learning crypto slots and poker without worrying about mandatory entrance fees.

The Rakeback Program

Rakeback is a unique program that some casinos offer to their players. It’s a way to get back some of the money spent on rakes. Casinos sometimes offer rakeback in the form of a flat rake percentage returned to the player after a specified time, usually within a day or a week.

So far, we’ve talked about rake in poker and the definition of rakeback. But did you know that the latter is an essential poker strategy that many game professionals regularly use to offset their losses? Poker sites often offer rakeback as a part of the loyalty reward program, and with the percentage going up to 40%, regulars can win back almost half of the funds they spent on rake fees.

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For example, if a player pays $100 in rake over the course of a month, and the casino has a rakeback program that returns 15%, only $85 would be lost to rake payments at the end of the month. Keep in mind that just as with rakes, there are many different forms of rakeback around.

Poker rake in live games can get pretty expensive, so any option for rakeback is more than welcome. However, rakeback doesn’t always come in cash, and other methods such as tournament tickets are sometimes used instead. With VIP points, you often get one rakeback point for each dollar you pay in rake. Gather enough points, and you’ll gain access to your allotted rakeback percentage.

VIP Rewards

There’s more to know about VIP points than simply fulfilling the requirements to get a rakeback percent. Every player should be aware of how these points are tallied.

  • Weighted Contributed Rake Calculation Method – You only get points if you actively contribute to the rake when the game is on. This means that if you fold and bring in nothing to the poker rake, you won’t get any points. However, if you make it to the flop, you’ll earn points that match a percentage of the rake amount you pay as the hand progresses.
  • Dealt Rake Calculation Method – If the rake is available during the hand, every player who gets dealt a hand is entitled to VIP points. You don’t have to contribute to the rake as the hand advances to earn points.

Both VIP reward methods have their usages. The dealt rake calculation method is for a careful player who plans before entering any pot. Conversely, the contributed calculation method is better for the more aggressive players who cannot find a no-rake poker game.

Outsmarting the Rake

There are a few ways players can beat the rake in cash games. With a bit of clever thinking and shrewd strategy, you can find a way to make a profit even on most poker games.

Play on Soft Poker Sites

If you can pick, go for the softest poker site you can find and play a high-stakes game to make more cash. You need to select a poker site with the best win rate possible, especially if the rake for a game of poker is higher than average.

These sites will have at least three weak or “fish” players per no-limit game, significantly skewing the player pool in your favor. Opt for such soft poker venues and play a stake higher than the one you’d use on more challenging poker sites.

Switch Sites When Ready

Once you’ve gathered enough victories and a sizable bankroll in no-limit games, you can move to more difficult poker sites. Not only will this change of pace improve your play, but you can clear a bigger deposit bonus, too. Websites with higher than average poker rake, such as Pokerstars, allow you to swoop up better rewards too.

Steer Clear From Uncapped and High Rake Games

Always check the maximum rake cap and the rake percentage before playing. Most crypto poker sites have a well-balanced rake to attract players. However, some websites take their profit to a new level with exorbitant rakes on uncapped rake games.

In $1/$2 games, rakes go anywhere between 5% and 10%, with a $5 cap on rake profits. They define rake in poker as a balancing act to keep the site running while simultaneously taking care of players.

More unscrupulous sites will hold a $20 or higher rake cap and even rake-uncapped games. Such sites will bleed your money dry even if you’re doing well in the poker games.

Don’t Compete in Small Stakes Live Tournaments

On the other side of the poker game spectrum are smaller stakes live tournaments that are also a no-no for players who want to beat the rake. Typically, these tournaments come with steep rakes of 20% or 25% of the buy-in. Despite being high, such a poker rake isn’t illegal.

Better competitions will have a reasonable 10% rake or even a lower one if the prize pool is $5,000 or higher. You can still beat rake on small stake tournaments as you perfect your game. However, your ROI will not be great if you consistently have to contend with a high rake.

Take Reasonable Risks in Timed Games

With timed rake games, you can play a bit more recklessly in each poker hand and take more risks (within reason). This is is because you keep all won chips for as long as the timed rake you’ve already paid for lasts. You can make big pots and see more flops than usual in a raked poker game with a time limit compared to those where a new hand means a new rake.

That doesn’t mean you should play like a maverick and go all-in on every hand just because the pots aren’t raked. You are, after all, losing money by doing that. Instead, plan on widening your starting hand selection and defend the big blind more frequently.

Participate  in Rewarding Competitions and Leaderboards

You’ll find a monthly leaderboard or competitions that bring cash prizes or access to freeroll tournaments for the most dedicated or successful players on some poker sites. If you play for fun, you won’t use these gambling events much, as they demand a serious time sink compared to the classic raked game. However, if you’re a serious player out to make some money, these poker competitions and leaderboards can help you increase your earnings.

Take Control Over the Rake

New and veteran poker players often underestimate the importance of rake. This commission fee affects every aspect of the game, including one’s play style. Once you become aware of how rake functions, you start learning how to control the game of poker in your favor.

FAQ

Is a rake in poker illegal?

A rake is not illegal if the gaming establishment has a proper gambling license. This is true for both online and brick-and-mortar casinos.

How do you rake in poker?

By paying a fee to the casino. It is a fee that gambling establishments take for hosting poker games. Check out our article for more information about rake in poker.

What is a raked hand in poker?

A hand that contributes anything in a running game of poker is called a raked hand. The amount a player contributes is called a rake.

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