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What is Rake in Poker?

Rake in poker is how the casinos make money, simply put, as poker is a player-against-player game where the house has no stake in the game. It is a certain amount of money that the casino takes out of every pot as a commission fee for providing the option to play poker. In a land-based casino, the dealer usually takes the rake amount as chips from every pot, while at an online casino, the rake is charged automatically from every pot. Here, we discuss all about poker rake, how it affects your poker strategy, and where you can find online poker games with the lowest rake.

Different Rake Fees

Casinos have several ways to collect rake. However, there is a “no flop, no drop” rule, which means that poker games that don’t go to the flop are not charged a rake fee. Here we list the standard rake fees you’ll encounter in different poker game settings:

  • Pot Rake

The pot rake is the most common type of rake fee that the casinos collect, and it is usually between 2.5 to 10% of the pot from each hand. Per the “no flop, no drop” rule, most poker rooms don’t charge the rake until the flop is dealt. In such cases, the player who makes a preflop raise and takes the blinds will win the entire pot.

  • Fixed fee

The fixed fee rake is collected as a fixed amount from every pot. In such cases, the rake is charged as a fixed amount, regardless of the size of the pot. In fixed rake games, you will see the rake amount before you join the game.

  • Tournament fee

In poker tournaments, there is no standard rake that is taken from every hand. Instead, the poker room or online casino that organizes the poker tournament takes a set percentage of the tournament buy-in. It is charged as a way to offset the hosting costs, and the tournament fee is clearly stated as a part of the entry fee. You will also find it described as Vig, or vigorish, which is the fee charged for organizing the tournament.

  • Dead Drop

The dead drop rake is a less common poker rake; this is a fee that the player playing on the button position pays before any cards are dealt. The dealer collects the rake as a fee for providing the services.

  • Time Collection

Time collection is a less-common rake in poker, which includes collecting a set rake or a table rake at a set time, usually every half hour of playing poker. It can be collected from every player as a fee for their place at the table or as a part of the first pot over a set time.

  • Rake-free games

There are rake-free poker games, and these are often found at reputable online casinos that have other ways of making money. The goal of rake-free games is to drive traffic to their poker games and entice their members to use their other services. Different online casinos may charge a monthly subscription or charge deposit fees. There are very few reputable rake-free online poker sites, as most of these offer rake-free poker games for a limited time only or as a part of VIP deals as an incentive for members.

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How Is Rake Collected?

The dealer usually collects rake in land-based poker games. The dealer takes a fixed amount of chips and sets them aside, and these are later collected in a secure box by the casino’s staff. In online poker games, the software takes the rake and shows it on the side of the screen. If the game has a fixed rake, the software will take the fixed amount from the final amount before awarding the rest of the pot to the winner.

The rake is usually a percentage amount that goes from 2.5% to 10%, but the most common rake charged by casinos is about 5%. It means that 5% of the entire pot will go to the house, which is why the house always wins. In small-stakes poker, the rake is usually capped at about $5 to $10 from each pot.

What is Rakeback?

Rakeback is a rewards program that many online casinos offer to their members. The rakeback rule states that the players will get back a percentage of the casino’s rake or the tournament Vig fee as an incentive for the players to continue playing.

The rakeback may also be a part of a bonus, a points game, or a VIP program where each time you play a cash game, you earn points. One example is earning one point for $1 in rake taken by the casino. As you earn more points, you will rise in the VIP levels and earn a fixed or progressive rakeback percentage that will award you usually up to 20% to 30% in rakeback bonus. For every $100 you contribute to the poker rake, you stand to get back a cash bonus of up to $30.

How Rake Impacts Your Poker Strategy

Ideally, it would be best if you played at a poker table with a minimal rake, as it leaves you the majority portion of the pot. The rake lowers your expected value, and you need to adjust your strategy to maximize your profits.

One of the critical things to do is to assume a tighter poker playing style; you should skip the marginal hand ranges and instead fold weak hands. The preflop ranges come very handy here, as in a poker game with a high rake percentage, you need to fold marginal open raises and only play strong hands where you can bluff and make value bets. Here are some poker tips to help you adjust your poker strategy and adjust for the rake in poker:

  • Learn the rake structure of the site you play at and see what are the rake percentages for the different poker variants
  • Prefer playing tighter hand ranges that have more winning chances
  • Prefer not to call a bet without further plan, as playing without a set idea is money lost
  • Be aware of the possibilities of the poker position you play in
  • Avoid calling a 3-bet just to see what will happen next, as it will most likely be money down the drain

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FAQs

Is rake legal in poker?

Rake is legal only at online poker sites and land-based casinos that operate under the necessary licenses and are registered in specific jurisdictions. Rake is also illegal in home poker games and underground poker games, but it is perfectly legal to leave a tip for the host.

Is there a limit on rake in poker?

Usually, the casinos put a limit on the rake of about 10%. However, there are poker games where the rake is capped, and even though the percentage of the pot means a higher rake, the capped rule limits the rake the casino takes.

How does rake affect the poker game?

The rake lowers the expected win as it takes a portion of the pot. So, to counteract this, you can assume a tight playing style and try to play only hands with high winning potential so you won’t contribute unnecessary money to the pot.

Is rake mandatory at poker tournaments?

Rake in poker tournaments is not the same as rake in cash games, but it is paid as a percentage of the entry fee. For example, for the total entry fee you pay to join the poker tournament, about 5 to 10% goes for the rake or vigorish.

Where can I play rake-free poker games?

There are very few options for completely rake-free games online. However, you can take advantage of casino bonuses, and rakeback offers at many reputable online casinos where you can get back a percentage of the rake.

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