What is the 'Rake'?
The rake is the casino's stake of a poker pot, retained as compensation for hosting the game. The rake might be a one-off payment of a set percentage or a cash amount, based on the amounts wagered during play and settled at the end. It could also be a 'timed rake' - where a fee is removed from the pot at set intervals during play. Many tournaments
and competitive poker matches use the timed rake, the size of which often increases over time.
The 'Rake' Explained
In most casino games
such as blackjack, roulette
and slot games
, there is a house edge
which allows the casino to make a profit. Players are either playing against the game directly, or going 'heads-up' against one of the casino dealers. As well as taking lost bets as their own profit, the casino beats the odds long term with this additional advantage and takes more of the player's money than they keep.In poker however, players are competing against each other - thereby removing this house edge. Rather than have dealers entering into the game against the players, the casino instead picks up a small fee itself for hosting each game. That fee is known as the 'rake', which comes from the act of the casino dealer using his stick to drag or 'rake' a share of chips out of the pot. The rake might be paid at the start of the game, as a percentage of the buy-in fee or as a fixed price for play. However, it is more usually taken from the pot
during play.Many casinos will start with a small rake, but will increase over time. The original rake might be 1%, taken every half hour, but by the end of play it could become 5% every 15 minutes. Tournament play often works like this. Players, therefore, have to not only beat their opponents at the table but also 'beat the rake' and make their money as quickly as possible.