Rake Explained - How Do Casinos Make Money on Poker?
Casinos make money from poker by taking what's called a rake. The rake in a poker cash game is when the house takes a percentage of the pot. In poker tournaments, a specified portion of the buy-in will go to the house while the rest goes into the prize pool.
Rake Definition - What is Rake in Poker?
Rake in poker is the house's compensation for hosting a poker game. However, not all cardrooms take a rake. In some poker clubs, members are required to pay a membership fee to join the club and then require payment for time spent at the table.
Generally, the rake is explained as the money taken by the casino/cardroom/poker club.
How is Rake Calculated in Poker?
How the rake is calculated varies from game to game and casino to casino. Usually, a poker room will have a set percentage of the pot from each hand go to the house. Generally, anywhere from 5% to 10% of the pot in each poker will be taken for the rake.
The rake will also often be capped. The cap is the maximum amount of rake a poker room can take from a hand.
If you ask a dealer or the floor what the rake is, they will often reply, "the rake is X% capped at $X."
How is Rake Taken in Poker?
The table dealer calculates the rake in live poker games and takes the house fee from the pot. The dealer will work out the pot size and rake accordingly to the percentage set by the poker room.
The rake is automatically taken through the poker software in online poker games.
How is Rake Taken in Poker Tournaments?
In poker tournaments, the rake is paid through your buy-in, often called an entry fee. There may be another percentage from the buy-in taken for the tournament dealers and staff.
For example, in the $10,000 WSOP Main Event, not all of the buy-in goes to the prize pool. For the 2023 WSOP Main Event, 4.9% of the buy-in is withheld for entry fees, and a further 2.1% is taken for the dealers and staff.
How is Rake Taken in Poker Cash Games?
As mentioned, the dealer takes the rake from each pot, but did you know that not every pot has a rake taken?
If a player wins the pot preflop, the house will not take a rake in some poker rooms. For example, a player could raise $10, and a second player could three-bet to $60. A third player could then move all in for $300. If the remaining players folded, the all-in player would make $70 without paying any rake.
However, if a player raises to $10 and gets one caller, and the initial raiser wins the pot on the flop, the house will take a rake as a flop has been dealt.
The above is a general and most common example, but this can vary from poker room to poker room.
How Do Casinos Make Money From Poker?
Casinos, cardrooms and poker rooms make money from poker by taking a rake, entry fee or timed fee from the players.
In poker cash games, the casino often takes a rake from every poker hand in the room. If a poker room hosts 30 cash games, the casino can profit substantially from this. The usual poker hand lasts 1-2 minutes. If that's 30 hands an hour being raked across 30 tables, the house can make a lot of money.
As mentioned with poker tournaments, the rake is included in the buy-in. If a poker tournament has a $100 buy-in, shown as $85+$15, the $85 is allocated for the prize money, while the remaining $15 will be taken as entry fees and staff payments.
Online Poker Rake vs Live Poker Rake - What’s the Difference?
The rake in live games is generally higher than for online poker. Some cardrooms will not take a percentage rake in any community card poker game like Texas Hold'em when a hand does not have a flop. This is called "no flop, no drop".
How to Pay Rake in Live Poker
You don't have to do anything to pay for the rake in live poker, as the table dealer will take the rake from the pot. In raked games, you only pay rake in hands that you play in for live poker.
In timed games, the rake you pay is a set fee. For example, for every 30 minutes, you're required to pay $10. If you play for five hours, you must pay the casino $100.
Can You Beat the Rake in Poker?
In regulated poker games, it is possible to beat the rake. If it weren't possible, there wouldn't be the thousands of professional poker players that exist today. However, in some "underground" poker games, the rake may be a lot higher, which may not be beatable.
You can beat the rake, but unfortunately, it is not something you can avoid. You want to find the games with the lowest rake and cap to have the highest win rate possible.
How to Beat the Rake in Poker
Avoid Small Pots
The rake diminishes, as a percentage of the pot, as the pot grows beyond the size necessary for the maximum rake. For example, in a room with a 10%, $6 maximum rake taken in dollar increments, any pot of $10 on up to $60 will be raked the full 10%. However, a pot over $60 will be raked at less than 10%. And the larger the pot is beyond that, the lower the percentage of the pot will be raked.
Avoid Short-Stacked Games
In an unraked game, it may be advantageous for you to sit in a game with opponents who are short-stacked, depending on how they play and whether you can exploit that play. For example, suppose the short stacks are extremely passive and timid. In that case, you can often have an excellent session by being aggressive in the right spots, regardless of your hand, and getting them to release their hands, giving you small but consistent wins.
But this strategy is rarely effective in a heavily raked game since the huge drain of the large rake on those small pots will often diminish to zero any profit you can make. Even if you are effective with your strategy, it will be offset by a large rake.
Steal the Blinds
Most rooms have the "no flop, no drop" rule, meaning that if there is no flop, there is no rake no matter how large the pot size. Check to make sure. If this is the case, then a strategy of trying to steal the blinds may make sense those hands produce the only small pots that aren't raked, meaning all of the profit goes to you, not to the house.
How to Find the Lowest-Raked Poker Games
There are several ways to find the lowest-raked poker games, and some of those are:
- Ask the floor - If you're on the Vegas strip, for example, you can visit each poker room and speak to the staff to find out the rake. Once you've found the poker room with a rake structure you're happy to pay, hop right in.
- Compare online sites - You can visit online sites like PokerStars, 888poker, PartyPoker and WPT Global to see their rake structures. You'll be able to see how much rake is taken per stake and decide from there.
- Look for rakeback programs online - Rakeback programs are where you are awarded some of your rake back. A portion of the rake you have paid will be refunded to you. Visit the sites listed above to find the rakeback program perfect for you.
- Pay attention to jackpots and high-hand promos - In live poker games, more money from the pot may be taken from the pot that isn't considered part of the rake. Card rooms run jackpot and high-hand promotions, which could see an extra dollar or two taken from the pot in addition to the rake. Even though it doesn't sound like much, after a long session, you'll be surprised by how much this all adds up.
Best Poker Sites with the Lowest Rake
As you would expect from the world’s biggest online poker site, PokerStars is often a trendsetter when it comes to new and innovative features. It also has one of the lowest rake structures of all the online poker rooms.
Here is information about PokerStars Rake-back poker bonuses and rewards, as well as information on rake-back bonuses from other major online operators.
Rake-back Poker Bonuses and Rewards
Rakeback bonuses and rewards in poker are incentives offered by online poker sites to their players to encourage them to play regularly on their platform, accumulating points that can then be redeemed for rakeback or other prizes.
What are Rake-back Bonuses and Rewards in Poker?
Rakeback bonuses and rewards can come in different forms, such as cashback, bonuses, freerolls, and other incentives. Some sites offer a flat percentage of rakeback, while others have a tiered system where players can earn more rakeback as they play more on the site.
How do Rake-back Bonuses and Rewards Work in Poker?
Rakeback bonuses and rewards can be a great way for poker players to increase their overall winnings and make their bankroll go further. However, it's important to note that not all poker sites offer rakeback, and some may have different terms and conditions for their rewards programs. It's important to research and compare different sites to find the best rakeback deals and rewards programs for your individual needs.
Poker Rake-back Example
Let's say you're playing online poker and the site you're playing on has a rake of 5%. If you play a hand where the pot reaches $100, the site would take $5 as rake.
If the site offers a 25% rakeback bonus, you would receive $1.25 back as a bonus. This would be credited to your account separately from your winnings.
So, in this example, your net cost for playing the hand would be $3.75, instead of $5. Over time, this can add up and help increase your overall winnings.
It's important to note that the exact amount of rakeback you receive can vary depending on the site's specific terms and conditions. Additionally, some sites may have a cap on the amount of rakeback you can receive in a certain period of time.
How Does PokerStars Rake-back Work?
On PokerStars, players earn Reward Points when they play poker. Players earn 100 reward points for every $1 paid in fees for scheduled tournaments, and 100 reward points for every $1 paid in rake in Zoom or cash games or other tournament fees (130 reward points for every £1, and 110 points for every €1).
Collect enough points to complete your progress bars, and you’ll unlock Chests loaded with personalized rewards based on the games you like to play
PokerStars Rake-back Bonus and Rewards
|Chest Level||Reward Points Requirements||Number of Chests to Level Up||Chest Value||Poker Reward %||Monthly Poker Challenges %|
|Silver||2,850||7||$5||17.5%||Up to 40%|
|Gold||10,800||7||$20||18.5%||Up to 40%|
|Diamond||37,500||10||$75||20%||Up to 40%|
|Black||100,000||N/A||$250||25%||Up to 40%|
How To Opt-in to PokerStars Rake-back Bonuses and Rewards
Players are automatically opted in to the PokerStars Reward Program and are able to unlock chests to win prizes including StarsCoin that you can use in their Rewards Store.
If 28 days pass and you have not won a Chest, your progress bar will reset and you’ll be moved down a level, where Chests will be easier to win but will contain a lower value of rewards.
How Does 888poker Rake-back Work?
The rakeback program on 888poker is called the 888poker Club, and it rewards players for their loyalty and activity on the site. Players earn points for every dollar they contribute to the rake in cash games or pay in tournament fees. Compete on any of their online tables, hit the casino or put bets on your favourite sports to take on challenges and earn rewards. The number of points earned depends on the player's status in the club
888poker Rake-back Bonus and Rewards
There are 10 levels in the 888poker Club, with higher levels offering better rewards. Players can climb the levels by earning points. Players can exchange their points for rewards such as cash, tournament tickets, or merchandise in the 888poker store
Players who reach certain levels in the 888poker Club can also receive cashback on their rake contributions. The amount of cashback varies depending on the player's level.
How To Opt-in to 888poker Rake-back Bonuses and Rewards
All players are automatically enrolled in the 888poker Club when they sign up for an account. You can check your 888poker Club membership status from the 888poker client.
You’ll be able to view all your available Challenges on your ‘Challenges’ tab in your account underneath the Progress Bar. Some Challenges will grant points in real time, whereas some will only be updated within 72 hours of the Challenge being completed. All of the Challenges are activated automatically, which means you won’t need to take any action or ‘opt in’ to get started
How Does PartyPoker Rake-back Work?
With the PartyPoker cashback program, players receive up to four points for every $1 of rake you generate on the tables. You could also receive a boost every week. This gives you the chance to rack up points even faster than usual! Log in each week to see if you’ve got a cashback boost – and how much it’s worth!
When you are Boosted, your cashback points will progress at your new boosted level. So if you are playing fastforward and have a 50% boost, your progress bar will now move at a faster rate of 6 points per $1 raked on fast-forward!
|Game Type||Points earned per $1 in rake|
|Cash game (regular)||3|
|Cash game (high stakes)||2|
PartyPoker Rake-back Bonus and Rewards
Earn a minimum of 10 points to start receiving weekly cashback. The more points you collect, the higher the cashback percentage you will receive. If your points balance falls between levels, the payment you receive will correspond to the last tier hit
*$16 extra for every 200 points earned thereafter
How To Opt-in to PartyPoker Rake-back Bonuses and Rewards
Players need to opt-in to cashback while at the poker tables. Be sure to check the partypoker lobby to ensure you are opted in. Cash is paid directly into your partypoker account every Monday
How Does GGPoker Rake-back Work?
Fish Buffet on GGPoker sees players able to earn up to 60% cashback as you climb the ranks to unlock bigger and better rewards — higher cashback.
Players earn Fish Buffet Points (FP) by playing real money cash games or tournaments on GGpoker. The number of FPs earned per hand or tournament is determined by the rake or fee paid. Players can track their progress and FP balance in the Fish Buffet section of their account.
On average, players will be rewarded 100 FP for every $1 paid in rake and fees. This value may vary based on a variety of factors, such as but not limited to, game type or tournament played, player behavior at tables, and deposit history.
GGPoker Rake-back Bonus and Rewards
When a player reaches a new level, they have the opportunity to spin the Fish Buffet Wheel. The wheel offers random rewards such as cash prizes, tournament tickets, and bonuses. Players can also choose to continue playing without spinning the wheel, in order to accumulate more FPs and reach higher levels with even better rewards.
However, it's important to note that if a player does not earn enough FPs within a certain time frame, they will be demoted to a lower level. Additionally, if a player reaches the highest level, they will receive a cash prize, but will not be able to progress any further in the program.
|Level||FPs to Earn||Time Limit||Prize Range|
|Plankton||750||7 Days||Spin $0.75-$2|
|Goldfish||1,500||7 Days||Spin $1.5-$5|
|Shrimp||6,000||15 Days||Spin $6-$30|
|Crab||12,000||15 Days||Spin $12-$60|
|Octopus||60,000||30 Days||Spin $60-$360|
|Whale||120,000||30 Days||Spin $120-$1,200|
|Shark||3,000,000||365 Days||Flat Cashback Weekly Payout|
|GGPlatinum||5,000,000||365 Days||Flat Cashback Weekly Payout|
You can also switch to Platinum Rank and receive a flat weekly fixed cashback. Here are the rewards and how many FPS you need for the Platinum Ranks on GGPoker's Shark Buffet Rewards Program.
|Rank||Rewards||Avg Cash Back %|
|GGPlatinum||$1 per 167FP||60%|
|Platinum Shark||$1 per 182 FP||55%|
|Platinum Whale||$1 per 200 FP||50%|
|Platinum Octopus||$1 per 285 FP||35%|
|Platinum Fish||$1 per 500 FP||20%|
|Platinum Rank||Duration||Req. FPs to Renew||Req. FPs for Promotion|
|GGPlatinum||1 Year||5,000,000 FP||–|
|Platinum Shark||1 Year||3,000,000 FP||5,000,000 FP|
|Platinum Whale||1 Year||1,500,000 FP||3,000,000 FP|
|Platinum Octopus||1 Year||750,000 FP||–|
|Platinum Fish||Forever||No requirement||–|
How To Opt-in to GGPoker Rake-back Bonuses and Rewards
Players are automatically eligible for the GGPoker Fish Buffet rake-back bonuses and rewards program.
Upon unlocking a level, players can spin a wheel to win various cash rewards. Cash rewards are awarded immediately after the spin lands on a cash prize.
Poker Gambling FAQs
What does it mean taking a rake in poker?
Taking a rake in poker refers to the percentage of the pot that the house takes in compensation for hosting the game.
Why did Molly take a rake in Molly’s Game?
According to the film Molly's Game, Molly Bloom started raking her games to pay players out.
Is there a maximum rake in poker?
No, there is no maximum rake in poker. Although, poker rooms try to compete in their rake structures not to lose customers. However, most casino poker games have a capped rake, meaning the house can't rake more than a specified figure.
Does rake matter in poker?
Yes, the rake matters in poker, as playing in high-raked games can dramatically affect your profits.
Can you avoid rake in poker?
In some home games, there may not be a rake. However, poker rooms all over take a rake in one way or another.
Are there any rake-free poker games?
The most common way to play rake-free poker is by playing with friends in a home game.
Which poker site offers the best rake?
PokerStars, PartyPoker, 888poker and WPT Global are some of the best poker sites with competitive rake structures.
Do you pay a rake at the World Series of Poker?
Yes, however, the rake at the World Series of Poker is usually referred to as an entry fee which makes up part of the buy-in for a tournament.