What Is A Rake In Poker?

Image Depicting A Rake In Poker - What Is A Rake In Poker

In poker, it is not only the players that are interested in making some cash, the casinos, dealers, or software are interested as well. That’s where the rake comes in. A player makes money by winning the pot but how does the casino or software online platform make money? In a game of poker the casino, dealer, or software application makes money through a rake.

What Is A Rake In Poker?

A rake is more like a service charge for playing a poker game. It is the fee generated by the casino or software for providing the platform necessary for playing legal poker games. The rake is not generally fixed and the methods of collection vary among casinos and online platforms.

Depending on the agreed form of collection, the rake can be paid by all players before a hand is dealt, by individual players per hour, or a dip taken from the pot. In this case, the winner pays a percentage of his/her winnings to the casino or poker site. 

Methods Of Rake Collection

  • Pot rake

Pot rake is the most popular method of rake collection in cash games as it is widely known and accepted among low to medium-stakes poker players.

In this method of rake collection, the dealer in live games removes the chips from the pot while a hand is being played and sets them in a secure box. For online cash games, the rake is automatically removed by the software.

Many casinos have a percentage taken from the pot with a maximum limit set. The percentage is mostly 2% – 10% of the pot per hand with a maximum limit of $10 – $20. The maximum limit is to regulate the amount that can be taken by the casino or online operator after every hand. 

Simply put;

For a casino that has a 5% cut of the pot with a maximum limit of $15 the rakes will be as follows:

Hand Pot Rake
1 $40 $2
2 $100 $5
3 $400 $15

For hand 3, 5% of the pot at $400 is $20 but only $15 would be taken by the dealer because of the maximum limit set. For a pot rake system, the actual cash given to the winner(s) is less than the value of the actual pot. 

Simply put;

Winner(s) share = pot – rake

Hand Pot Rake Winner(s) share
1 $40 $2 $38
2 $100 $5 $95
3 $400 $15 $385

Some casinos have a ‘no flop no rake’ rule which means that if a hand doesn’t get to the flop stage the casino gets no rake. Simply put, if the game ends at the pre-flop stage, the winner gets the whole pot without any rake removed.

The pot rake system is common among online poker sites.

  • Dead drop

The dead drop rake collection system is a method that shares the payment of the rake equally among all players as opposed to the winner taking the brunt in pot rake. In this method of rake collection, a predetermined amount is paid by the player in the button position before the cards are dealt.

Since the position of players on a poker table changes in a clockwise direction after every hand, the rake collection shifts from one player to another using the dead drop system. 

  • Fixed fees

In this system of rake collection, the rake is fixed independently of the size of the pot. Every player at the table pays a fixed amount to enter the game.

For every game played, each player pays a predetermined entrance fee. Irrespective of whether or not a player is winning or losing, the rake would have been generated at the start of the game. In fixed fees, each player pays to play.

Fixed fees are favorable for a high-stakes player who might have had to pay more on large pots in a pot rake system. It also benefits the house as the rake is constantly generated regardless of the outcome of the game. 

  • Time collection

In this system of rake generation, each player is charged per time. A casino or online poker site can charge for every 30 minutes or hour spent in the game. What this means is that the minimum time that can be paid for by individual players is either 30 minutes or 1 hour. If a house charges $5 per hour, irrespective of if a player plays for 30 or 40 minutes, the player is charged $5. 

In time collection, for every hour (or 30 minutes) spent on the table, a player is charged a certain amount. If a casino or online poker site charges $5 per hour, after 5 hours a player would have paid a total amount of $25. On a table of 10 players, a rake of $50 is generated for every hour spent in the game. 

The time collection is more common among high stake poker players who would like to avoid paying high rake rates on their pot. This method of rake collection also guarantees that the casino or online site generates income on every poker game played per time (per hour). 

  • Tournament fees

For tournaments, the rake is usually charged with the tournament entry fee and clearly specified. For instance, if a poker tournament fee is $50 + $6, then the rake is $6.

The rake amount comes after the ‘+’ sign. For some tournaments, the percentage of the house taken from the buy-in is stated which serves as the rake.

Regardless of the way the rake is listed (as a percentage of the house or otherwise), for a player to enter a tournament, the tournament fee which includes the rake must be paid. For tournaments, the rake collection is pretty straightforward. 

Irrespective of the type of poker being played – Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or 7-card Stud a poker rake is charged for both live and online poker games. 

No Rake

Some online sites charge a monthly subscription fee for every user hence, do not collect rakes from pots or tournaments. In this scenario, the pot generated is solely for the winner(s) of the game. 

Some other online sites offer ‘no rake’ games as an incentive to entice new players or keep existing players. Some sites offer no rake for new or frequent players while others offer reduced rake rates for their customers. 


Rakeback is the percentage of the rake that is given back to the player. Rakeback can be in form of cash or other incentives. The percentage of Rakeback given varies among different establishments and sites but generally ranges from 20% to 40% of the rake paid by a player.   

When Is Rake Collection Legal In Poker?

Rake is used to maintain the card room or online poker sites and is legal when collected by gaming houses or online sites with a proper license or permit.

For private games, playing for money is not prohibited but rake collection is. Collection of rake by institutions or individuals without proper licensing is illegal. 

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