Taking a rake in poker is an unfamiliar term for everyone but those that are familiar with the game. However, if you’ve picked up an interest in poker, this is something that you need to know. Here, you’ll learn what it means to take a rake, how it happens, its legal status, and how to avoid it.
What Does a Rake Mean in Poker?
The fee collected by the casino for organizing the game of poker is known as the rake. Consider it the casino’s payout for hosting a poker game.
Most casinos take a rake for all poker games that they host, regardless of whether the casino is online or land-based. However, the rake that is collected might differ from one casino to the next and from one poker game to the next.
Nonetheless, it has been noted that the rake in poker games tends to be smaller the higher the stakes are. So, knowing the rake at different casinos is essential for selecting the ideal one for you if poker is your game of preference.
How Do Casinos Take Rakes?
A casino takes its rake using a variety of creative methods to reduce its visible effects on the players. These gambling institutions take their rake in a number of ways, some of the more prominent ones being:
This is a classic method of taking a rake in a poker game. When someone at a table wins, the casino will take a cut of the pot before handing out the full amount.
This percentage ranges from 5% to 10%, with a typical upper limit. So, if the rake of a casino is 5%, it’s supposed to take $50 at a poker game with a pot of $1000. However, if the maximum rake is $20, the casino will only take $20 instead of $50 from that game.
Pot rake is usually found at low and medium-stakes poker games and on most online poker sites. At live games, the dealer physically removes a portion of the pot and sets it aside as the rake. In online games, however, this amount is removed automatically by the computer.
Some casinos go a step further and implement a “no-flop, no-drop” rule. This means that the betting house will only take a rake if the flop has been dealt. If the game ends preflop, no rake will be taken.
This is a method of taking a rake in poker that takes into account the time that a player spends in a poker room. Here, players are charged for every hour or half hour that they spend in the poker room.
The timed collection is one of the rake collection methods that are popular among high-stakes players. That’s because it allows them to pay a lower amount of money even when they bet a lot on the game.
Unlike the classic method of pot rake, where only the winner pays the rake, everyone pays in a dead drop. The dead drop method requires all participants to pay a certain amount before the hand begins. Here the rake is placed on the button, so the dealer will collect the rake before dealing a player any cards.
With this method of taking the rake, everyone pays the rake whether they win or lose the game. They also pay the same amount, which makes it fair.
Fixed Fee Rake Collection
This is another method of collecting the rake that was brought about by the winners laying complaints. After all, given that other participants joined the game as well, why should they be required to pay the rake?
This means that everyone at the table will have to put up some cash if they want to play there. Those that play for high stakes and place large bets prefer this strategy.
Tournament Buy-In Fees
Apart from conventional methods, poker players pay a rake to participate in poker tournaments. This amount of real cash is known as a buy-in. So, when players pay for a poker tournament, a portion of that amount is the buy-in, and it goes to the host.
This amount of money isn’t fixed and usually depends on the casino. Research indicates that a range between 10% to 20% is more frequent, nevertheless. One further rule of thumb to remember while gambling is that the bigger the stakes, the smaller the buy-in.
Tournament buy-in fees are not only found at land-based casinos; they are also collected at online tournaments.
Is Taking a Rake Illegal?
No, taking a rake isn’t illegal as long as it’s a licensed casino that’s doing so. That’s because some of the top casinos or betting houses or platforms have the required permits from the government or gambling organizations to do so.
However, taking a rake becomes illegal when it occurs in a private establishment or at a private game. So, if you sit down with some friends to play a poker game, you’re not allowed to take money for hosting the game. Doing otherwise automatically makes you a gambling establishment and makes it illegal to run an unlicensed game.
Most countries have laws that allow civilians to host poker games where others bet money. However, they all draw the line at allowing participants in the game to pay the host. This is a privilege that they only give to authorized gambling establishments.
Why Do Casinos Take Rakes?
At a glance, it might look like taking a rake is unfair to the players. Particularly in light of the fact that the majority of casino games are already equipped with a house edge built in. Nevertheless, taking a cut is appropriate whether the casino is physical or online.
That’s because there are many things that a casino uses the funds from the rake for. Some of these purposes include:
- Paying Workers: This is customary for land-based casinos.
- Purchasing Equipment
- Paying Taxes
- Operational Costs: Online casinos use the rake from poker games to fund the costs of their poker software and other online operations.
Are There Online Casinos That Take No Rake?
Absolutely, there are plenty of online casinos that offer poker without charging a fee. Typically, this takes the form of no-cost poker game trials. This indicates that even though the game is free to play, there is no way to make money doing so.
However, you’ll discover that several rake-free tournaments are available at betting sites. These tournaments require players to cover the buy-in, and the casino uses it as a tactic to get new players.
Sometimes, the casino might offer a reduced rake instead of no rake at all. A reduced rake usually comes as a tournament with a free prize attached. Here, the players will be expected to reach an overlay, and if they don’t reach it, the casino will cover the remaining costs.
There are also rake-free tournaments called free-roll tournaments, which are free for any interested player. It offers some free prize money even when there is no buy-in.
Apart from tournaments and poker game demos, you’ll find it difficult to encounter a rake-free poker game. However, rake-free poker cash games are easily available at land-based casinos, especially if a table is shorthanded.
Does Taking a Rake Affect the Game?
Yes, the action of the casino taking a rake forces poker players to play a tighter style of poker. That’s because the presence of a rake in a poker game means that you earn less than you expect. This makes the game less profitable.
So all those marginal post-flop calls will have to become flops. This is because the calls, marginal open-raises, and 3-bets all depend on the marginal bluffs and value bets to be worth it. Hence, most players will adhere to a more cautious and conservative style of play.
Is It Possible to Beat the Rake?
If you believe that the rake is unfair, you probably want to discover if there is a way to overcome it. Since beating the rake is achievable, there are numerous experienced poker players out there, which is good news for you.
Keep in mind that beating the rake doesn’t mean you won’t be paying for it (you can’t avoid that). It just means that you can reduce its effects on your game.
Below are some methods that you can adopt to beat the rake in a poker game:
Steal the Blinds
Stealing the blinds refers to bluffing in order to get the chance to bring down the blinds before the flop. This technique is perfect for any player in a late position who wishes to win uncontested blinds. Apart from allowing you to sneak in an easy win, you can steal the blinds to beat the rake in a game.
This strategy is effective in poker games with the “no-drop, no-flop” rule. Since this rule says that there is no rake if there is no flop, you can ensure that the game produces small pots. This way, you’ll get all the profit instead of the casino.
Stay Away from Small Pots
We’ve already established that the rake is a percentage of the total pot. Even at that, it still has a maximum that it cannot go above. This means that if the pot is high, the rake will be the maximum amount, not the percentage.
So, if you play a game with a small pot, you’ll be taking the full brunt of the rake. You’ll pay the rake in full. If you play a game with a high pot, however, you’ll be charged a lower percentage for the rake.
Participate in Low Rake Online Casino Games
This is the easiest method of beating the rake. Instead of doing a lot of mental math to lower the rake, you can just find a casino with a low rake. There are many ways that you can go about discovering such casinos and some of them are shown below:
- Visit Different Sites
Although many online platforms offer poker games, their rakes are not the same. Some betting sites offer a higher rake than others, and you can visit them to find out. So, just visit the betting platform and go through the terms and conditions for their poker games to discover their rake.
- Ask the Customer Support
Contacting customer support is a much easier method than searching manually. You can get in touch with the employees of any betting site you find interesting via email or live chat.
You can pose your question there and hear their response. You are able to register for an account on the website if the rake is sufficiently low. If that’s not the case, you can locate a new casino.
Check for Rakeback Bonuses
One of the bonuses that online casinos offer is rakeback. Rakebacks are poker-related bonuses that give players some of their rakes back. This bonus is given to encourage poker players to continue visiting the poker rooms at the casino.
Although this method doesn’t allow you to reduce the rake you pay for a game, you can still get some of it back. As a result, you might argue that you played with a lesser rake than usual at the end.
Rakeback can be provided by an online crypto casino in a variety of ways. Some sites offer it as a percentage of a player’s total wager for the week or the month. Others offer it as a flat amount that players get when they wager specific amounts of money on poker games.
Rake is a payment that poker players offer to the casino hosting the game. It is collected as part of the pot or as a result of the time spent at the poker table. It can also be collected as a tournament buy-in or a fixed fee to play at the poker table in that casino.
There are many stances regarding whether it is fair to take a rake, as the most common method of its collection punishes winners. Nonetheless, taking a rake cannot be avoided, as it helps the casino handle the costs of organizing that poker room. Additionally, it enables the casino to guarantee the effectiveness of the next poker tournaments.
It doesn’t matter if taking a rake is right or wrong; what matters is that you know how it works. You can then be more ready to play poker yourself whether it’s online or at a physical casino.