Players sometimes ask, “What is a rake in poker?” Every site and casino that offers poker charges a commission on every full hand played on their tables. Poker is a game where players compete with other players, so rake is one of the only ways for poker rooms to make a profit. In other casino games like Blackjack, the house can use odds to generate revenue from playing against customers.
It’s usually illegal to collect a rake in unregulated live games or private home games. Regulated poker rooms have tax agreements with the countries they reside in. If you’re playing with friends, don’t collect a rake or commission.
Rake can be complicated, but we’ve distilled the information into this article. We’ll talk about why rake exists, how it works for cash games and tournaments, plus ways to get rakeback.
Why Do I Have to Pay Rake for Online Poker?
Providing a high-quality poker experience online is not easy or cheap. Maintaining servers for thousands of players requires a huge amount of bandwidth and round-the-clock staff have to be ready to solve any problem.
Poker sites also have to advertise, which affects you more than you’d think. Keeping a constant flow of new players coming into a site is ideal for the quality of games. Expanding the player base also allows sites to have more promotions and hold larger tournaments with larger guaranteed prizes.
There are countless staff members keeping poker sites operating smoothly, and funding for their salaries has to come from somewhere. These employees maintain everything from the cashier and accounting to software and game security.
How is Rake Collected in Poker Cash Games?
The most common way for online poker sites to collect rake from players is with a fixed percentage, up to a maximum amount (cap). This is called a pot rake and it’s taken from the pot during the hand, either manually by a poker dealer or automatically online.
Most poker sites don’t charge any rake for action that occurs before the flop. This can be great for players with a tight-aggressive style who take down pots preflop. This is sometimes called a “no flop, no drop” policy.
In live poker settings like casinos or cardrooms, a dead drop is used. Before cards are dealt, the dealer collects the rake amount and slides it through a slot in the table.
Some offline poker rooms charge rake based on the amount of time players are at the table, but it’s uncommon and usually only happens at higher stakes games.
We’ve included the rake for each poker site in our overviews, and you should always be aware of how much the house is taking.
PokerStars has a fairly low rake of 3.5% at their lowest stake cash games ($0.01/$0.02), with a maximum rake of 4.5% at their highest stakes ($100/$200). There’s also a cap to the amount that PokerStars can take from the pot, which changes depending on how many players are at the table. When you play with fewer players, the rake cap will be reduced, but the rake % will remain the same.
There are plenty of ways to offset the rake you pay, like Daily Races or opting in for weekly challenges. Playing poker and contributing rake also unlocks PokerStars Chests, which contain cash and Stars Coins that you can convert to cash, tickets, and merchandise. You can earn up to 25% in rewards and The Weekly Poker Challenge can give players anywhere from 10% to 40% in additional rakeback.
That means that the maximum amount of rakeback you can earn is around 65%.
The Rake at Major Poker Sites
|Texas Hold ‘Em Rake (5+ Players at Table)
|5% up to $1/$2
5% at $5/10 to $25/50
|3.50% at $0.01/$0.02
5.0% at $3/$6
|5% up to $5/$10
1% at $50/$100 and up
|5% at all stakes
|5% at all stakes
|6.25% at $0.01/$0.02
5.56% at $5/$10
|4.5% at $0.02/$0.04
1% at $20/$40 to $100/$200
Note: These numbers only show the rake % and not the cap, meaning the maximum rake the site can take. The cap varies depending on the stakes and the number of players at the table.
Mobile poker club apps are different from poker sites and some have different rake structures. Each club has the freedom to build its own organization and choose the game types, stakes, members, and even the rake, among other specifications. Each club will have a different rake that is set by the club host.
Rake in Online Poker Tournaments and Sit & Gos
To enter a poker tournament, you’ve got to pay an entry fee. Part of that entry fee goes directly to the house, which is how poker rooms generate rake from tournaments. Rake from multi-table (MTTs) and sit & go (SNG) tournaments is usually 2.5% to 10% of the total entry fee.
Some poker sites like America’s Cardroom display the rake clearly with the buy-in information. For example, a daily Freezeout tournament with a $1000 guaranteed prize pool has a buy-in of $5 plus $0.50 in rake, for a total of $5.50. Some tournaments on ACR have a 10% rake, while others have 5%.
What is Rakeback in Poker?
Rakeback is a % of a player's rake that is paid back in weekly or monthly intervals. There are usually tiers or levels to rakeback, meaning that the more rake you generate, the more rakeback you can receive.
The Player Value Index (PVI): With this system, each player gets their own rake calculation. The factors that affect a player's PVI number include playing and betting behavior, deposits, withdrawals, number of active tables, and more. This method of calculating rake is used by some poker sites, including GGPoker.
It’s important to know the amount of rake a poker site collects and then deduct the rakeback to find the true total. Try to avoid thinking about rakeback as a separate reward; keep in mind that players pay far more rake than the rakeback they receive.
RedStar Poker starts all players at a 20% rakeback on Level Red. The more you play and contribute rake, the more Status Points you’ll acquire. Every 50 points you get can be converted into €1. As you climb through the levels, the points you need to convert for €1 become less and less. At Level Star, it takes 29 Status Points to get €1, equating to 35% rakeback.
To maintain a certain tier of rakeback, poker sites usually require you to play a certain amount. That means, your rakeback could be different from month to month, depending on how much rake you contribute.