What is is Rake Poker? All Details Explained

If you’re looking to make some serious profits through rake poker, look no further – this is the guide for you! We’ll teach you everything from how to rake in the big bucks at tournaments to making a killing playing cash games.

So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there’s something here for everyone who wants to start pulling in the profits with rake poker.

What is Rake Poker?

Rake poker is scaled commission payment made by a casino to cover its operating costs. Rake is collected by the dealer as a percentage of each pot.

If you have ever played cash game poker at a casino you will have seen the dealer take chips from the pot during most hands. These chips are the casino’s “rake”.

How is Rake Collected?

A Cardroom has three common methods of collecting rake. These are listed in order from most common to least.

1. Pot Rake

Pot rake is the most common type. It usually takes 2.5% to 10% of each pot in each hand. Sometimes, it can go up to a maximum amount.

Some poker rooms will take a fixed amount of rake from each pot, regardless of its size.

Some poker rooms don’t take any rake until after the flop is dealt. This means that if you raise preflop, and take down the blinds you win the entire pot. This is known as “no drop, no flop”.

2. Time Collection

Time collection, also known as “timed rake” (or “table charge”), is a fee that is collected approximately every half-hour during a game. This is collected in one of the following ways:

  • Player time: Each player is charged a set amount.
  • Time pot: A fixed amount is collected from the first pane over a specified amount.

Time rakes can be used for higher limit games ($10-20).

3. Dead Drop

For each hand, a set amount of rake will be placed on the dealer’s button by the player in that position. The dealer collects this amount before any cards are dealt.

How should Rake Influence Your Decisions?

Simply put, a higher rake will lower your EV (Expected Valuation).

How does this impact your decisions? A higher rake will force you to play tighter poker.

All those marginal post-flop calls turn into folds. This also has an impact on the preflop ranges as marginal open-raises, call, and 3-bets all depended on marginal value bets, bets, and calls to be profitable.

Therefore, you need to play tighter preflop as well as post-flop.

What Situations are Most Impacted by Poker Rake?

Two common spots in high-raked games that need to be adjusted are calling from the big blind or 3-betting. These are the two main areas we will be focusing on moving forward.

Big Blind Defender Ranges

This section will show you how to build a strong big blind defense range that can withstand any increase in size.

This process can be copied to create your ranges, based on the rake structure of your game.

Let’s look at an example hand, with a $5 cap on the rake. This rake is taken when the flop is dealt. This is the typical rake structure in live card rooms.

Local Casino $1/$2. 9-Handed. Effective Stacks $200

Hero is in the BB with 2 cards 5 folds. CO raises to $8. 2 folds

Let’s see what Hero’s defense range should look like.

The first step is to determine the pot odds he is receiving (learn how pot odds are calculated here). Hero would need $6 to call for a pot of $12. (CO’s $8 raise + dead blinds $3 + Hero’s $6 call – $5 fee)

Pot Odds = $6/$12 = 0.5 = 50% of equity required

The hero may have to fold before the river or fold the best hand, so he won’t get all of the equity. This is something you should keep in mind when defending. Depending on the hand, you might need more or less than 50% equity.

Equity Realization

Equity is different for each hand.

Strong, connected, and/or suited hands tend to realize the greatest equity — think AA or AQo or JTs. They could also call profitably with less than 50% equity.

Offsuit and/or disconnected hands tend to realize the lowest equity — think A2o and Q7o. In the above example, they would need more than 50% equity to call profitably.

Player skill and position are also important when it comes to equity realization. Out-of-position players realize more equity. Because a veteran player will play better after the flop, he will be able to realize more equity.

If your hand is borderline in terms of raw equity, then you should probably:

  • Call if your hand is strong and you feel you have an edge post-flop.
  • If you are uncertain about your opponent’s edge or have a hand that is not very playable, fold.

If neither of the options feels right for you, consider a 3-bet. This will give you more experience.

Let’s now see how Hero’s range compares to the CO’s estimated raising range.

The equity of each hand is represented by the numbers below it.

The left side shows CO’s opening range. You can see on the right how much equity each hand has compared to CO’s opening range.

Before we show you which Hero should defend, lets figure out how much equity Hero would need to defend if there was no rake.

Pot odds = $6/ $8 (CO’s bet) + 9 (our call + dead blinds).
Pot odds = $6/$17 = 0.35 -> 35% equity needed

It is amazing! 50% is compared to 35%. Let’s see how Hero’s defending range looks with and without rake.

The numbers below each hand represent the equity of that hand compared to the cutoff’s raising range.

You can also do this exercise yourself and adjust the variables such as the opener’s size or range. Also, you can familiarize yourself with big blind defense ranges.

3-Bet Defending Ranges

This section will show you how to build optimal 3-bet calling ranges using your opponent’s range, and their raise size.

You can also copy the process from the previous section to create your strategies based upon the various variables you encounter (opponent’s range and raise size, poker player rake amount, etc).

We will use the same casino to sample the hand and will look at both the rake and rakeless situations.

Local Casino $1/$2. 9-Handed. Effective Stacks $200

Hero is in the CO with 2 cards
5 folds. Hero raises to $6. BU 3-bets up to $18 2 folds. Hero…?

The Upswing Laboratory has a default cutoff range for raising the minimum raise (Red = Raise; Pink = Optional Raise, Blue = Fold).

In this example, we assume that the cutoff raises are shared with all the optional hands.

Let’s say that the button uses the 3-betting range suggested by the Lab to play live games.

Default button vs. cutoff range from Upswing Laboratory (Red = 3 Bet, Pink = Optional 3-Bet. Orange = 3-Bet. Call, Green = Call. Blue = Fold).

We’ll assume that the button 3-bets only red and orange hands.

This process is very similar to the one described in the previous section. First, we will calculate Hero’s odds of winning the pot.

Pot odds = $12 (how many we need to call) + $6(our raise) + $18 (+our opponent’s 3-bet + $3 (dead blinds), + $5 (rake).
Pot odds = $12 / $44 = 0.35 = 35% equity required

The calculation would look something like this if there were no rake

Pot odds = $12 / $18 + $18 + $3
Pot odds = $12 / $39 = 0.30 = 30% of the raw equity required

As you can see, the equity difference isn’t as dramatic. This is because the rake ($5) is the same, but the pot is bigger. In the previous section, $5 was taken from a $17-sized pot (29.4%), while $5 is taken from a $37-sized pot (13.5%) in this instance.


How you play rake poker can have a huge impact on your strategy. If you want to crush as many players as possible, you need to consider it and adjust your poker strategy accordingly.

Online, you can use the same process to determine how much rake should affect ranges in your game. Enter the numbers and look up the rake structure on the site you play. Although the ranges will not be as precise as those above, you will be amazed at how much rake can make a difference online.

If you are a live player, you now know how poker rake should affect your preflop ranges.

So, now you know everything there is to know about how to rake in the profits with poker. It’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice and start making some serious money! Good luck.