What Is Rake in Poker? How to Make Money on Poker

What Is Rake in Poker? How to Make Money on Poker

What Is Rake in Poker?

Rake is essentially a portion of winnings the host takes from cash poker games to offset the costs of facilitating the game. If you’ve ever played live games in a casino cardroom, you may have noticed the dealer taking chips out of the pot and setting them aside. That's the casino’s rake.

In a traditional casino, the rake is used to pay staff salaries as well as pay for the equipment and overhead. For online poker sites, the rake covers website operational costs, such as support and software. Whether the game is online or live, a rake is charged in nearly every poker game, though the amounts vary from establishment to establishment.

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In most cases, only an establishment with the requisite permits and gaming licenses may legally take a rake in its cardrooms. While many areas allow players to play cash home games in private dwellings, it’s usually illegal to generate income from these games, whether through a tournament fee or a rake.

How Do Casinos Calculate the Rake?

There are multiple ways for establishments to calculate and collect rake. Most of the time, rake is a percentage of the pot determined on a sliding scale. The percentage is usually between two-and-a-half percent and ten percent of the amount of money in the pot, though these figures vary from casino to casino and from game to game, with some charging higher rakes than others. There's usually a maximum amount that can be collected to offset the impact in high-stakes games, especially no limit games. In some instances, the rake is a fixed amount applied to all poker hands regardless of the pot size.

How Do Casinos Take the Rake in Poker?

There are several different ways a casino may take rake, depending on the situation.

  • Live cash games: In most live cash games, it is the dealer’s responsibility to collect the pot rake. As the hand is played, the dealer removes chips from the pot and sets them aside. Once the hand is complete, the dealer places the chips in a secure box.
  • Online games: For online poker, the rake is collected automatically by the software. Some gaming software displays the rake amount incrementally between betting rounds, while others take it from the final amount before awarding the rest to the winning player.
  • Less-common methods: Uncommon methods of collecting rake are dead drops and time collection. A dead drop is when a player in the dealer position places the rake on the button, which is then collected by the dealer before the cards are dealt. A time collection rake is when a fixed fee is collected at set intervals, usually every half hour. The fee collection can apply to each individual player or a set amount collected from the pot.
  • No flop, no drop: Many casinos have what’s called a “no flop, no drop” policy that applies to community card poker games, such Omaha and Texas hold ‘em. In these games, if the hand never gets to the flop, no rake is taken.
  • Poker tournaments: It’s worth noting that rake typically only applies to cash games. In poker tournaments, there usually isn’t a rake during play. Instead, casinos collect a percentage of the tournament buy-in to offset their costs for hosting the tournament. Usually, this amount is indicated on the entry fee.

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Poker is a player-versus-player game where players wager against each other rather than against the house. Casinos thus require a means to generate revenue. Rake is how they generate this revenue and offset the costs of facilitating games.