What Is a Rake in Poker?

Despite its influence, this poker term - rake - is often misinterpreted and, at times, disregarded. So we have dedicated this article to helping you understand the meaning of poker rake, how it's calculated, how it's collected, and other information that signifies its importance and might come in handy when betting at poker rooms and sites.

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Matthew Gover
Fact checked by Jonas Warrer
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Poker is a player-versus-player game, and unlike other card games like baccarat and blackjack, players wager against each other rather than contest against the house itself. Therefore, since poker has no house edge, casinos use rakes to generate revenue and compensate for the costs of hosting poker games.

The rake is among the basic foundations of poker and can occasionally even affect every winning player. Whether you’re playing poker at a brick-and-mortar or an online venue, the rake is something you must consider at the poker table.

What Is a Rake In Poker?

In poker games, the term 'rake' refers to the scaled commission fee charged by the house/casino for operating and running the game. Rake is an inevitable component of almost every poker game, and every player, irrespective of their experience, has to deal with raking in a poker game in one way or the other. If you’ve ever had the opportunity of playing poker live in a physical casino cardroom, you've probably noticed the dealer taking chips out of the pot during most hands and setting them aside - that's the house's rake.

To win when playing a poker game where the casino takes a cut, you must beat not only your opponents but also the financial drain of the rake. Therefore, you must consider the rake amount and devise your poker strategy accordingly. 

Live Poker vs Online Poker

In most cases, only a platform with the requisite permits and gaming licenses issued by reputable authorities may legally take a rake in its poker rooms. On the other hand, while the laws of many jurisdictions do not prohibit players from gambling on poker in private dwellings, generating income from these games, whether through a rake or a tournament fee, is usually prohibited.

How To Calculate a Rake

The amount of money taken may also vary depending on the game, venue, and site. It covers the various operational fees and services such as software, customer support, and personnel for both traditional and virtual platforms. However, an in-person casino charges a higher rake compared to a poker site. 

Texas Hold'em

Rake is taken in cash games as well as poker tournaments, though in different forms. While a cash game takes a rake based on the amount of money in a pot, tournaments collect pre-set rakes as part of the buy-in cost. The rake is generally a percentage of the total pot, often set at a rate of 2.5% to 10% of each hand's pot up to a predetermined maximum amount.

For example, in a cash poker game, the pot might be charged a 5% rake up to a maximum of €5 or €10. When it comes to tournaments, the rake typically ranges from 8% to 12% of the buy-in (tournament fee).  

Methods Of Collecting Poker Rakes

Different poker rooms generally employ the use of different types of methods for raking in poker. You can check out the details regarding some of these tactics below:

  • Online Poker Guide Ireland

    Pot rake is the most prevalent method of collection and is taken directly from the pot. The amount card rooms charge typically ranges from 2.5% to 10% of the pot in each hand, usually up to a predetermined maximum amount. 


    In brick-and-mortar casinos, the dealer calculates whether the pot is over the edge, eliminates the chips manually, and puts them in a dropbox. On the contrary, in an online casino, the game software automatically removes the rake before paying out the winner. 


    In addition, most cardrooms/poker sites do not take a rake in any community poker game, like Omaha and Texas hold'em in the event that a hand does not get to a flop. This is known as the "no flop, no drop" or the "no flop, no rake" strategy, which means only hands that reach post-flop can be raked. The winning player is rewarded the full pot if the hand finishes before the flop. 

  • Fixed Fees

    Fixed Fee is a form of rack collection which was introduced by inland cardrooms after disgruntled winners started complaining about having to pay all the rake while the others didn't. This led to most of the card rooms putting forth a fixed entry fee which ensures that every player pays a charge for sitting at a poker table. In this way, all the poker players pay equally for the chance of winning the pot, regardless of the outcome. Casinos also benefit from this as they are able to receive rakes even when there are multiple losing players at the table. It's more attractive and fairer for high-stakes players who normally had to pay big amounts of rake on large pots.

  • Dead Drop

    This type of rake collection is an alternative to pot rake, where everybody pays the same thing. However, this system sees a fixed rake amount placed on the dealer button by the player currently in that position for each hand, which the dealer collects before the stack of cards is dealt. This ensures that each player at the table pays the same, regardless of whether they win or lose. Even if a player decides to fold without participating, they will still lose the rake amount.

  • No Rake

    It is common for a lot of online poker rooms to offer tournaments that come with zero rakes. Take Freerolls for instance, they are free-to-join poker tournaments that charge absolutely no fee and have a little added prize money. Some sites even put forth the occasional rake-free tournaments on offer where players only have to cover the buy-in. This approach appeals to potential customers and thus keeps them interested and playing at their site. Additionally, some platforms feature a reduced rake structure which involves players paying a small amount of rake. With the possibility of an overlay, a number of these poker rooms make up for this by offering a guaranteed prize.

  • Time Collection

    Some players usually go hours playing poker in physical and virtual gambling venues. This is the primary reason why the timed collection rake was brought in. Here, each player submits a predetermined amount of rake fee after a specific course of time, which is typically every 30-minutes to one hour that they remain active at the poker tables. Time collection is quite popular among high rollers since it allows for better rake amount and helps them avoid bigger fees that are otherwise charged on their pot.

  • Online Baccarat Guide

    Timed pots are a variant of this timed collection method. A timed pot represents a fixed commission fee which is collected from the first pot over a certain amount within an agreed period of time.

  • secure and trustworthy casinos

    When participating in a poker tournament, you'll have to pay a rake, which is generally charged as a part of the fixed entrance buy-in. This means that whether you’re betting and playing Texas Hold’em, Stud, or Omaha, a fee will be charged during the buy-in time. This applies regardless of whether you play online or in a physical card room. The tournament fees vary from one poker site to another. However, in such a scenario, the poker rake is calculated as a percentage of the buy-in amount. An average rake is generally in the 10% to 20% region.


    For instance, in a €100 tournament, you can expect around €15-€20 to be charged as a rake by the casino. This leaves the remaining €80- €85, which will be added to the prize pool.

What Is A Rakeback and How Does It Differ From Rake?

Rakeback is a poker term that refers to the perks, bonuses, or rewards that gambling venues offer once you have paid enough rake. The rakeback on different sites and casinos varies greatly. These incentives are given out by some online poker sites to their users as motivation for them to keep playing and might include loyalty points, cash rebates that can be spent within that casino or site, or free or discounted access to tournaments. A rakeback is generally a flat percentage of the rake offered to players at a certain scheduled time and usually ranges from 20% to 40%. With these rakebacks, you can recover some of the rakes you pay when playing poker cash games and tournaments.

Other Common Terms Used in Poker

  • A compulsory bet placed by every player in a poker game preceding the initial deal, ie at the beginning of a round.

  • A raise is when an increase is made to an existing bet in the same betting round. Whereas a re-raise is a subsequent or second raise on the current betting round, not counting the open.  

  • When a poker player matches a bet or a raise. A betting round will end when players bet an equal amount. If there are no opponents to call a bet or raise, the player wins the pot.

  • The third betting round is named the Turn in communal card games (such as Omaha and Hold'em). It is also the name for the single community card dealt in a betting round. 

  • The final betting round of various poker games is named 'river', where the last of the community cards are dealt in a game.

  • If more than one player remains after the last betting round, the rest of the players must expose and compare the hands to determine the winner or winners.

Conclusion

As you might have perceived from this detailed guide, a rake is an important aspect of the poker world. Most brick-and-mortar and virtual casinos and poker card rooms charge a rake or some other fee. It has a significant impact on your long-term results and how you should be playing. While high rakes can leave you empty-handed, a low rake can stack up your profits quickly if you’re a winning player. 

Different Types of Poker: Five-Card Draw

Therefore, you need to consider this amount and adjust your strategies accordingly to limit the impact of the rake on your funds. Furthermore, casinos also offer various Rakeback promotions that vary in generosity. Since your main goal is to leave the poker table with a hefty amount, explore the various Rakeback offers and study the rake structure for each game before picking one to play.

Matthew gover

Matthew GoverVerified

iGaming & Sports Specialist

IGaming, sports and cryptocurrency content writer - Matthew is a jack of all trades! He's been doing it all for the past 5 years.

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