• Understanding the Role of Rake in Online Poker
  • What is Rake?
  • How is Rake Calculated?
  • Impact of Rake on Players
  • Rake Amounts by Pot Size and Percentage
  • Strategies to Manage Rake
  • Rake the Rake
  • Rake FAQs

Understanding the Role of Rake in Online Poker

Online poker has enabled new and experienced poker players from all corners of the globe to challenge each other anytime, anywhere. A key aspect of online poker that touches every player is the rake - meaning the fee that online poker rooms charge for hosting games. Let’s dive deeper into what rake is, how it is calculated, its effects on players and tips on how to manage its impact.

What is Rake?

Think of rake as a small service fee that the online poker room takes for organizing the games. It's a bit like a booking fee for a concert or a service charge at a restaurant. In online poker cash games, this fee is seamlessly deducted from the pot.  In poker tournaments, rake is usually described as a fee, as it will be a percentage of the entry fee.

How is Rake Calculated?

Online poker rooms have a few methods at their disposal to figure out the rake:

  1. Cash Game (per pot) Rake: A certain percentage of the pot is taken out for the house in each hand. In cash games this is usually between 2% to 5%, and there's often a cap to ensure the fee isn’t excessively high. Some games apply a ‘no flop no drop’ rule, which means that of the hand was won before the flop was dealt, no rake is deducted. While this is still common practice in most live poker rooms, it is now less common online.
  2. Tournament Fee: Used for tournaments, sit and go’s and spins, this method involves a straightforward fee, usually around 10% or less than the buy-in of the tournament.
  3. Time Collection: This is where a fixed fee is collected at set time intervals, typically in higher stakes live games and not often applied online.

Impact of Rake on Players

Although it might seem small, rake adds up and can significantly affect your winnings—especially in games with lots of hands. It’s an important factor when calculating the expected profitability from your poker sessions.

Rake Amounts by Pot Size and Percentage

Here's a table illustrating how much rake you would pay per hand, at various percentages of the pot, with a cap of $4:

Pot Size3% Rake4% Rake5% Rake

As you can see, once the pot size increases, the cap comes into play to prevent the rake from being too burdensome.

Strategies to Manage Rake

Here are a few ways to soften the sting of the rake:

  1. Rakeback Deals: Many sites offer rakeback, where you get a portion of your rake payments back. This can be a set percentage or dependent on your playing volume. 
  2. Loyalty Programs: When there is no rakeback on offer at some sites, there might be a loyalty program instead. Joining these programs can reduce the effective rake through rewards like cash back, free tournament entries, and other perks. 
  3. Choosing the Right Games: Different games and stakes have different rake levels, Some buy-in levels are worth skipping due to having higher rake/pot size ratio, especially when rake caps per pot are taken into account.
  4. Improving Skills: It’s not easy to become a professional player, but the before you even get to consider that, you have to be able to beat the rake, or at least not let the rake beat you.

Rake the Rake

While rake is an integral part of online poker, understanding and managing it can greatly improve your playing experience and profitability. Whether you play occasionally or regularly, being mindful of the rake and using strategies to manage it can significantly influence your bottom line.

Rake FAQs

What is Rake in poker?

Rake is the fee that is taken out of each pot, which is kept by the operator of the poker room

How much rake is taken out of each pot in poker cash games?

The amount of rake taken out of the pot at the end of each hand varies from poker site to poker site and from game type to game type. Typically the amount deducted is between 4-6%, however most online poker sites also apply a cap, which is the maximum amount of rake that will be deducted from the pot.

Is there rake in poker tournaments?

Poker tournaments charge a fee, which is a percentage of the buy-in. It is not deducted from every pot, as it is in cash games.