One way or another, you have probably encountered the concept of poker rake. Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand it, though. Many online poker players have never been bothered by that, enjoying the best online poker sites to the fullest.
However, the rake is one of the foundations of poker and can sometimes even affect every winning player. That’s why it’s essential to understand it and take the necessary measures to ensure this won’t happen to you.
What is Rake in Poker?
Rake is the commission the different online poker rooms or land-based casinos charge for organizing poker events. After all, it’s player versus player in poker, unlike in other traditional online casino games where you enjoy playing Blackjack or Baccarat opposing the dealer.
For these establishments to get revenue and continue providing their services, they collect rake fees. That seems fair, but on some platforms, the cut taken from players can reach up to 10-15%. Even though this seems quite high, there are other factors that ultimately determine how much rake will affect your game.
Capped and Uncapped Rake
Most players can’t imagine handing the casino a 10% cut of their winnings each time, which can sometimes amount to thousands of dollars. That’s only natural, but this is where the capped and uncapped rake structures go into play. Understanding these two might be the critical difference that will allow you to take complete control when sitting at the tables.
Capped Rake Explained
As its name suggests, the capped rake is a type of fee that can’t go above a fixed border. In most online casinos, this threshold hardly goes over $30. However, it has been proven that capped rake in live poker rooms can reach $70 or even higher.
The essential thing here is that you can’t pay more than the capped amount, even if you are playing in a massive $2,000 pot with a 10% rake. That’s why players usually opt for poker rooms offering a capped rake.
Uncapped rake clearly illustrates how even an initially low 5% rake can be detrimental to your poker results. The issue with this type of fee collecting is that when you begin to play more significant pots, you will be losing a large chunk of funds, even if you are essentially winning the hands!
But you can’t understand this unless you go through a typical situation like this. So, imagine you are lucky to get pocket Aces in a standard $10/$25 cash game with a 5% uncapped rake. You play your hand well pre-flop and go all-in with 100 big blinds. Your opponent covers your stake and decides to call. A total of 200 big blinds or $5,000 are in the pot.
Of course, you are in a great position, but with such a significant pot and a 5% uncapped rake, the card room will immediately take $250 out of your pocket! And that’s just from one hand. Imagine you play a few of those in a session and lose one in the best scenario. Uncapped rake and a bad beat can significantly impact your results, so keep this in mind when playing in poker rooms like these moving forward.
No Flop/No Drop
A number of online poker rooms and live casinos practice a No Flop/No Drop Policy. This essentially means that no “drop” (rake/fee) will be taken if the table does not see a flop. No rake/fee will be paid if the hand ends pre-flop, regardless of the size of the pot.
How is Rake Collected in Practice?
Unless you pay attention to it, you probably won’t even realize that you have been paying rake, especially if you are playing online. The various card rooms and casinos worldwide have developed quite a few ways to make players pay to enjoy their favorite poker games. Let’s go through some of the most common practices you can face.
The pot rake is the widest spread in the world of poker. As its name suggests, this rake becomes active only when a flop is reached in a specific hand. The amount card rooms take ranges from 2.5% to 10%, usually up to a particular maximum amount. If the hand is finished before the flop, the winning player takes the full pot.
The so-called dead drop is one of the most straightforward ways rake is collected. With this practice, the button player pays a set amount before the start of the poker hand. Even if you fold without participating, you will still lose the rake size.
With the traditional rake collection, winning users tend to pay the most. However, after many complaints from the most successful players, the fixed fee rake was introduced in many poker rooms. With it, every player pays a fixed fee when sitting at the table. And that’s how the rake burden is evenly distributed.
Some online casinos might not have the above rake collection methods. As a result, many players simply sat at the tables for hours while avoiding most of the hands. Well, the timed rake was introduced as the solution to make these types of individuals more engaged. Time collection is usually set at around 30 minutes, making users pay fixed fees.
You may have engaged in poker tournaments without realizing you had paid rakes upon entry. The amount is fixed based on the type of tournament, whether Sit & Go Omaha or Texas Hold Em. You can expect a 5% to 20% rake to be taken out of the entry fee.
Of course, the best-case scenario will always be to play poker without any rake. This will potentially increase your winnings and delight in the game. To play poker without a rake, you can join some specific reduced-rake tournaments or play freerolls, where there are no additional fees.
How Does Rake Impact the Results of Your Poker Game?
You might be reading through all of this and thinking that it doesn’t matter much when the card room takes a tiny amount of your chips. Although that is partly true, ultimately, it depends on the situation. For example, let’s say you are playing a cash game with a standard pre-determined pot rake of 5%.
You are preparing for a standard high-stakes hand, and the total pot on the flop is $500. After managing to make your opponent fold, the total winnings you acquire is $475 ($500-5% of pot rake or $25). If you can afford to play with real money funds like these, your bankroll is probably more than a few thousand. So, is a mere $25 rake something you should be worried about? Of course not.
But when it comes to lower stakes, the rake can significantly impact your winnings, especially if the actual fees are more significant in a particular card room. Imagine you are playing with a bankroll of $150 and a fixed pot rake of 10%. In one of your thrilling hands, after a 3-bet re-raise call, the flop pot nears $50.
Let’s say you take down the opponent immediately. The rake you have to pay will be $5. If you win a few more similar hands, you might end up paying more than $30, which is 20% of your initial bankroll!
You can compare this to high-rollers who usually have to pay less than 5% of their bankroll throughout the game because of the usual rake limits. That’s why you must always be aware of the poker rake in your card room and develop your strategy accordingly.
Tips to Pay Less Rake and Increase Your Winnings
Of course, rake might be new to you at the moment, but it’s not something exclusive and new to the poker world.
That said, you can implement a few tactics to pay less rake and increase your winnings, especially when you are a lower-stake player. We will divide our approaches between cash games and tournaments for a more straightforward implementation.
The tournament rake is always paid as entry, which is why it’s the easiest to avoid. You can do that by mixing in Satellites and Turbos in your schedule, as they usually have a lower rake. However, if you want to be even more efficient, the Freerolls are your best choice, as they are rake-free.
But if you want to enjoy your favorite tournaments and cut your rake expenses, you can play when you know there are many recreational players. Of course, this doesn’t directly reduce the rake cost, but it will increase your chances of winning, ultimately bringing the desired result.
You have to pay rake in various ways when engaging in cash games. Most of this will be from the pots you engage in. Therefore, you must be more selective with the hands you play out. For that purpose, avoiding a huge range and being aware of your positional disadvantage is best.
For example, if you are in the BB position and the SB player is constantly value betting, it won’t be wise to call and see a flop too often. Your disadvantages from the Big Blind position and a higher rake will crush you in the long run.
Another way to avoid paying too many fees is the unique rakeback feature some card rooms offer.
What is Rakeback?
Rakeback might be one of the best ways to avoid paying too much rake while still enjoying poker to the fullest. This is a fixed amount that some online poker sites tend to offer their users as an incentive for them to keep playing.
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many modern card rooms where you can benefit from poker rakeback deals. But there are other opportunities that could potentially be exploited, such as a cashback program.
Natural8 Cashback – Less Variance, Higher Winnings?
Dealing with a rake can be annoying regardless of whether you are a professional or recreational poker player. You must check the rake collecting rules in various game types and adjust your poker strategy accordingly.
But what if you simply don’t have to worry too much about the fees you pay while playing? That’s possible when you join Natural8. The Fish Buffet Loyalty Program has one of the best cashback systems in the poker world, ranging from 15% to 60%!
The amount you receive is based on your level and rank. There are eight levels and dozens of ranks to go through, so you want to play as much as possible to get to that 60% Cashback point. But the main takeaway is that you will start at 15% Cashback, which automatically decreases the fee burden that you have to carry otherwise. So, you must choose wisely the poker games and card rooms you engage in.