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What is Rake in Poker and How It Affects Your Winnings?

Borislav A

Nov 16, 2022

A Guide to Rake in Poker

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 the typical rake structure and take the necessary measures to ensure it won't affect your online cash games too negatively.

What is Rake in Poker Games? 

Rake is the commission the different online poker rooms or land-based casinos charge for organising 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 a poker 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 a poker table. 

A Guide to Rake - Capped vs Uncapped

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 a capped poker rake in live cash games 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 cash game pot with a 10% max rake. That’s why players usually opt for a poker room offering a capped rake. 

Uncapped Rake

Uncapped rake clearly illustrates how even an initially low 5% rake can be detrimental to the results in your poker game. The issue with this type of casino 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 in your cash games! 

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. Such a rake structure 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 practise 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? 

How is rake collected in poker games?Unless you pay attention to it, you probably won’t even realise that you have been paying a rake in poker games, 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 favourite poker games. Let’s go through some of the most common practices you can face on a poker site.

Pot Rake

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 size of the pot. 

Dead Drop

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 still lose the rake size in a dead drop. 

Fixed Fee

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. Winners or not, that’s how the rake burden is evenly distributed around all game participants. 

Time Collection

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. It is usually set as a half-hour collection, making users pay fixed fees. 

A Tournament Buy-in

You may have engaged in poker events without realising you had paid tournament fees upon entry. The amount is fixed based on the type of poker tournaments, whether Sit & Go Omaha or Texas Hold Em. You can expect a 5% to 20% rake to be taken out of tournament buy-in.

No Rake

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 if your poker strategy turns out to be effective. To play poker without a rake, you can join some specific reduced-rake poker tournaments or play freerolls, where there are no additional fees.

How Does Rake Impacts the Results of Your Poker Game?

How Does Rake Affect Poker WinningsYou 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 on a poker site 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 in poker 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 3bet 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% of $50 = $5). Even when winning a few hands like these, you might have paid 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 how much rake you need to pay in your card room and develop your strategy accordingly.

Tips to Pay Less Poker 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, both when it comes to online and live cash games.

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. 

Tournaments

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 favourite 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 winnings, ultimately bringing the desired result. 

Cash Games

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 calling too broad and being aware of your positional disadvantage is best. 

For example, if you are in the BB position and the SB player is constantly raising value hands, it won’t be wise to call and see a flop too often. Your disadvantage from the big blind 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 offers might be one of the best ways to avoid paying too much rake and still enjoy the poker game to the fullest. This is a fixed amount that an online poker site offers back to their users as an incentive so they can continue playing more. 

Their providers are aware of the fact that if the players see they lose too much money even if they are successful in their games, they will be discouraged from visiting their site again, so this needs to be prevented from happening.

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.

Natural8 Cashback - Less Variance, Higher Winnings?

Dealing with a rake can always be annoying as 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 get 15% of Cashback at the beginning, which automatically decreases the fees burden you had to carry otherwise. So, you must choose wisely the poker games and card rooms you engage in. 

It is an important factor in maximising your profit, which is, apart from the excitement and fun, one of the main motivations to involve in live or online cash games in the first place.

We want our players to be able to enjoy their poker games to the fullest and let them be able to enjoy high winnings, and we are sure our rakeback offer can be a great way to achieve that despite the necessity to cover a poker rake. In case of any questions or doubts concerning the program, you can always contact us by email or live chat and get all the necessary answers.