July 6, 2022

How Do Casinos Make Money on Poker?

Adaobi Okonkwo
Written byAdaobi OkonkwoWriter

Poker is a mainstay in most online casinos. It’s a skill-based game where players face the dealer or other players instead of RNG-generated results. But because the game isn’t played against the house, the casinos devise their own ways to make money from poker games. This begs the question; how do casinos make money on poker? This quick read finds out!

How Do Casinos Make Money on Poker?

The word is rake!

Ever heard of the word “rake?” No, it’s not the garden tool for collecting leaves and papers in your backyard. Instead, a rake in gambling is a portion that goes to the house each time a player wins a real-money bet. It’s basically the cost of managing the table. This clearly indicates that the house has no business in who wins the poker games, as their take is already guaranteed. 

As expected, most casinos have a cap on the amount of rake they can take from the pot. This is usually anything between 2% and 10%. This amount is used to pay the dealer, maintain the website, and so on. So, ensure you know how much you’ll pay the house before playing poker online or in a land-based casino. 

Popular types of poker rakes

There are multiple ways in which casinos collect their commission from the game. Below are the most common methods:

Pot rake

Pot rake is the most popular type of rake collection where the house takes a certain percentage of the total pot. However, some poker card rooms may have a specific amount of rake to collect regardless of the pot size. This is common in high-stakes games where 2% to 10% may be a lot of money. Plus, some casinos take their rake only after a flop is dealt.

Time rake

Time rake or time collection is a poker fee charged every 30 minutes or one hour after the game. This rake can be collected from an individual player (player rake) or the pot itself (time pot). Time rakes are usually applicable on high-limit card games where a percentage commission may seem unfair. 

Tournament buy-ins

Tournaments are common in poker and slot games. Players join the competition to compete for the top prize by playing with chips. The casino usually rewards the top three players who amass the most points, although some may consider the top 10. But unfortunately for the casino, the card chips don’t have any monetary value.

So, to prevent losses, most tournaments have a buy-in, paid before the game starts. For instance, a $1,000 contest can have a $20 buy-in. Assuming the tournament is open to 60 players and the rake for each player is 10%, the casino will have a rake revenue of $120 after paying out the top players. Always pay attention to the rake if you’re a poker tournament fan. 

Dead drop

Dead drop is a type of fixed rake placed on the dealer button before the poker game begins. In short, the dealer collects the rake before dealing the cards to the players. Interestingly, every player pays this commission as the button continues to rotate on the table. 

Why play poker online?

There are 1001 reasons to play poker in an online casino. One of the main reasons is the expenses involved in operating the games. As said before, casino operators incur many costs to run poker rooms. But these expenses significantly reduce with online games hence a low rake deduction on the player pots. 

Take this example; most online casinos don’t need three or four dealers and a pit boss to monitor the games. Instead, the casino software will do all the heavy-lifting in a tournament with thousands of participants. Therefore, the casino will still earn enough without charging players exorbitant rake fees. But of course, player traffic matters. 

It’s also worth noting that most online casinos run live poker games these days. In these games, players simply select the chip size and start playing against the dealer or other players in a live setting. Gamers can even communicate using the chat feature. But be mindful of your language as casinos won’t hesitate to kick you out if you’re out of topic or use vulgar language. 

It’s all fair game!

If you have a colleague or friend who is skeptical about playing online poker, this article should dispel their worries. Poker is slightly different from other casino games where the casino depends on the house edge for commission. The house mostly gets its cut from the rake you pay. Therefore, they don’t have any reason to rig the outcome. 

But mark this; a higher rake can affect your gaming decisions by lowering your expected value. Simply put, a higher rake will make your overall gameplay tighter, denying you the opportunity to exploit some situations. Be careful!

About the author
Adaobi Okonkwo
Adaobi Okonkwo

Amidst the hustle of Lagos, Adaobi Okonkwo emerges as Nigeria's preeminent specialist in localizing online casino content. By fusing Nigerian zest with global gaming insights, she's become a household name in the industry.

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