For the majority of casino games, the house takes a cut of money gambled through offering games that have lower payouts than the odds reflect. This is known as the house edge, and it’s usually a small percentage (1-5%). While the casino will sometimes lose and payout big winnings, over time, it will always make a profit. Most versions of poker are played as player-versus-player rather than player-versus house, meaning that there isn’t an opportunity for the casino, poker site, or poker room to make a profit.
Instead of taking a house edge, poker game organizers will take what’s known as the rake. The rake is a commission percentage of the pot for each round of poker. Generally, this can be between 2.5% to 10%, and it will be taken from the pot at the end of the round when it’s paid out to the winner. While this is the most common form of rake in online poker, a few other types of rake may also be used.
Types of Rake in Poker Games
Pot Rake – The pot rake is the most common way for the rake to be collected. This will be an agreed-upon percentage of the pot at the end of the round, usually up to a maximum amount. However, some games do have unlimited rake amounts, so this is something to watch out for.
Time Collection – Occasionally, you might see a poker game that uses a time collection for rake. Here, the rake is collected as a set fee at a regular interval of time. This could either be a set amount from each player or a set amount from the pot. Generally, this type of rake is only used for higher-limit games.
Dead Drop – In rare cases, a dead drop may be used to collect rake from players around the table. Each hand, a set amount of chips must be placed by the signified player, which is then collected as rake before any cards are dealt. Like the blind, this moves around the table each round.
How to Avoid Rake
Rake is how poker sites and poker rooms make money, but as a player, you always want to maximize your winnings. While rake can’t be avoided, there are ways that you can lessen its impact.
Get rakeback – Some online poker sites will offer rakeback as a loyalty bonus to players. You should be claiming this offer whenever possible, as it can really make a difference to your overall profits. For example, a 40% rakeback deal would give you 40 cents back for every dollar you pay in rake. If you’re playing a lot and winning a lot, that will be a lot of money at the end of each month.
Avoid small pots – Most poker games have a maximum cap on rake, which means that the bigger the pot, the better. It also means that small pots should be avoided, as you’ll be losing a more significant amount of money to rake. Of course, if you have a strong hand, then you should go for it in most cases, but if you don’t have much, then it’s worth folding.
Stay away from high rakes – This goes without saying, but if you want to avoid paying rake, you should avoid places that have a high rake. 10% is really the maximum fee you should pay from each pot, and these should ideally always be capped at a fair amount. You’re more likely to see higher rakes in live games, but these should be avoided when possible.