Rake in poker: what you need to know if you want to open a poker room (2021 update)

Feb 18, 2021 Artyom Ustinov
Poker players know: rake is a very important aspect of the game which determines the final winning amount together with rakeback. In turn, the size and rules for rake and rakeback are set by the owners of poker rooms, and their own profit depends on them. What else should you know about rake and rakeback?

What is rake

Rake is a fee that the owner of the poker room assigns for the game. The amount is usually small in relation to the bank (1% – 5%). It can also be a fixed fee which ranges from 1 to 3 big blinds per hour. However, with a large number of hands, a serious sum of money is formed, which allows poker rooms to thrive.

Imagine that a player plays Limit Hold’em for two hours a day. With a limit of 2/4, he will pay $250 a month for rake only.

Hence the main rule derives: the owners of poker rooms do not care whether a person loses or wins. It is important how much he plays: the more, the better. However, it is also vital that all players lose evenly, because if professionals quickly beat amateurs, the game will end quickly.

What is rakeback?

For the player, the situation with the loss of money on rakes does not look very attractive, so if he finds more favorable rake conditions in another poker room, he might opt to move there. To avoid this, the owner of the poker room can use the rakeback option.

Rakeback is the return of the poker room fee. It might reach 70%, or 2%, or any other amount of the rake, it depends. Usually this is the main marketing strategy of a poker club or room. In addition to the poker room, rakeback can also be paid by affiliates.

Rake and rakeback significantly affect the income of players and poker rooms, so those who take poker seriously should pay close attention to this aspect.

Rake calculation

There are 3 methods to calculate rake:

  • Dealt
  • Contributed
  • Weight-contributed

Dealt rake. All participants, regardless of the win, encounter the same percentage of the rake.

Example: The size of the rake after the hand is $3, the number of players is 10. So, each player has to pay 30 cents.

Contributed rake. Rake counts only for players who have contributed to the pot. If a player does not make a bet, his contribution to the rake is not taken into account.

Example: 10 players play, the rake is $3. Two have not made bets, so the rake is split among 8 players who pay 37 cents each.

Weight-contributed rake. Now this method is not so popular, although some poker rooms still use it. With this method of calculation, the commission amount is proportional to the contributions of players to the bank.

Example: The first player bets $20, while the second and third bet $40. The rake amount is $2. Accordingly, the first player pays 40 cents, and the other two pay 80 cents.

Types of rakeback

There are 4 ways to return money to the player:

  • Rakeback
  • Cashback
  • Valueback
  • Rakeback from affiliates

Rakeback is the return of the poker club fee. It can be different, depending on the owner’s desire, but an average of 30%.

Cashback is a definition that is often used as a synonym for rakeback, but not always. Another notion of cashback is the reward that the player receives after earning a certain number of points. Nevertheless, by nature it is a sum of money returned to the player with the help of another system.

Valueback is another form of rakeback which includes any other types of player encouragement.

Rakeback from affiliates is an additional monthly refund by affiliates. Payments occur at the expense of profits from new attracted players and usually represent a transfer from an affiliate account to the player’s account. Many players earn by its means.

Rakeback needs special clearance. Thus, if the player does not do this himself, he will not receive the rakeback despite having this opportunity at his disposal.

Tournament rake

Tournament rake is a fee for organizing the event included in the buy-in. The standard tournament fee is 10%, but it depends on the tournament. The more expensive it is, the cheaper the fee for participation.

The difference between the tournament fee and the regular rake is that the fee is collected once while the rake is charged from each hand.

As you can see, by using rake and rakeback, you can attract and retain players in your poker club, though the particular kind of marketing strategy is up to you.

Artyom Ustinov

Artyom is Head of White Label & Turnkey Solutions and has been working in complex B2B/B2C sales, as well as business development and management consulting in iGaming for more than 10 years.

Together with the Key Account Management Team, he has helped over 100 start-ups and experienced gaming companies to launch their projects with SoftGamings.

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