How To Play Poker

What is a Rake in Poker and How Does it Affect the Game?

Rake illustration

Published: May 7, 2024
Written by Global Poker

Every poker player will have heard of terms like big blind, small blind, fold and bet. But, have you ever heard of the“rake”? If not, read on…

Now, when you hear the term “rake”, we’re not talking about the distant cousin to the broom. The rake is a tool used by many casinos around the world. Nearly every poker game — both live and online — will have a rake, but knowing exactly what it is and how it affects the game remains a mystery to many. Let’s discuss the rake and its purpose.

Everything You Need to Know About the Rake 

Taking a rake is when the card room or casino takes a commission of the pot or buy-in fee as payment for operating the game. It was created so venues could receive a portion of the money on the table to pay for organising and operating poker games, which makes sense if you think about it. 

How the Rake Works

Generally, the rake fee will be two to 10 percent of the pot in each hand of poker, with a set maximum cap on how much can be taken. The amount of the rake will vary depending on the game type and casino, with higher stakes games usually attracting a smaller percentage rake fee. The method for collecting the rake also differs, with a few different options available for casinos. 

Different Ways to Collect the Rake 

Because of the differences in how a cash game operates compared to a tournament, the method of collecting the rake will vary, too.

Cash Game Rakes

Dead Drop

The most common way of taking a rake in a lower-stakes cash game, a dead drop, is when the casino takes a percentage of the pot after the hand has concluded but before the winner takes their winnings. The average rake taken during a dead drop is usually between five and ten per cent, and thisfee might be capped at a fixed dollar amount or vary based on the size of the pot. 

Time Collection

If a casino doesn't use the dead drop method in a cash game, they will most likely collect a rake after a specific amount of time has expired. Each player pays the agreed-upon amount to the venue once the timer hits zero. Usually, the fee will be the equivalent of one to three big blinds per half hour, or between two and five big blinds every hour. A time collection will usually result in smaller overall rake fees for players and is commonly used for higher stakes games. 


Buy In

The buy in is the only opportunity for casinos to take a rake in a poker tournament. When a player registers for the tournament, a percentage of the buy in (usually between five and ten per cent) is collected by the venue as a rake, while the remainder goes into the prize pool. Usually when the buy in is large, the rake is a lower-than-average percentage. 

Other Types of Rake Fees 

Subscription Based 

Some online card rooms prefer to charge a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription fee to play their games instead of collecting a rake for every cash game or poker tournament.

No Rake Poker 

Is exactly what it sounds like; some traditional brick and mortar casinos offer poker with no rake as a way to attract more players. They might also charge a lower than average rake or avoid collecting a rake until later in the game. Online casinos and card rooms sometimes offer similar deals but they are rare. 


It's not all just about take; some casinos try to give a bit back. The rakeback is a percentage of the rake which is returned to players, usually at set times throughout the year. Generally, the rakeback will be 20 to 40 per cent and based on the number of hands a player has been involved with or how much they have contributed to the rake while playing poker. In poker tournaments, the rakeback is deducted from the venue's share of the entry fees.

Poker Rake FAQs

Why do card rooms take a rake at all? 

The rake is a divisive subject with poker players, with many feeling it's unfair. Keep in mind that running a poker game requires equipment, a dealer, and a poker table, which can be pretty expensive to operate, especially with all the permits and licenses. The rake was created to help card rooms pay for all the costs of hosting a poker game. 

Can I take a rake in a home game I'm hosting?

No. Taking a rake during a home game is illegal in most countries. Casinos require permits and licenses to operate, which allows them to take a rake legally. Most of the time playing a home game for money is permitted, provided nobody takes a rake. 

Why is it called the rake? 

The term rake has been used in poker pretty much since the game was invented. It isn't entirely clear why the word came to mean the fee taken by casinos; however, it might be because of the long tool used by the dealer to move chips around the table. When the dealer takes the fee, he might use the tool to rake in the chips. 

Can I avoid paying the rake?

Think of the rake like taxes, there are legal ways to ensure you pay less, but it takes a bit of effort and research to find the best way. It's probably easier to just accept it as a fact of life and focus on playing poker, but if you are really determined to find a way around it there are several options available:  

Shop Around: There are a lot of casinos, and with a bit of research, you should be able to find at least one that offers minimal or no rake fees. Look for rake-free events and games with a lower than average fee or Rakeback offers.  

Play Fewer Hands: You will be charged less rake overall if you play fewer hands during a game using a dead drop collection method. If the rake is charged after a set time has passed, leave before it expires. 

Play Online: The rake in live games is generally higher than in online poker. Playing online can result in lower overall rake fees. 

Don't Play in Poker Tournaments: The rake is automatically taken from your buy-in when you sign up for a poker tournament, so if you don't want to pay a rake, you should start avoiding tournaments.

How is the rake calculated?

The rake is typically calculated as a percentage of the pot in each hand of poker, with a predetermined maximum cap on how much can be taken. This percentage may vary depending on the game type, stakes, and casino policies. As mentioned above, in cash games, the rake may be collected either through a "Dead Drop" method after each hand or through a "Time Collection" method where players pay a set amount over a specific duration. For tournaments, the rake is usually a percentage of the entry fee, with the remainder going into the prize pool.

Is the rake higher in live games compared to online games?

The rake structure may vary between live games and online games. Generally, the rake in live games might be higher compared to online games due to the additional costs associated with operating a physical poker room, such as dealer wages and venue expenses. However, the specific rake percentages and structures can differ between different casinos, card rooms, and online poker sites. Additionally, factors such as the stakes and game format can also influence the rake amount.