What is poker rake — explaining in a simple way

Dennis  «Dennis_Stets» 
21 May 2024
Poker Basics
21 May 2024

When choosing a poker room a player should consider such factors as welcome bonuses, activity and level of the playing field, promotions, tournament series, as well as the size of the rake. In simple words it’s to the portion of money from the entire pot at the poker table that does not go to the players. This part goes to the online room as a commission for its services, because it organizes such online competitions. But directly in the game, which occurs between specific poker players, the room does not participate. It is necessary to know how to check the rake, its types and what part of the total bank is usually taken from players in cash games or tournaments.

What is taking a rake in poker?

As we mentioned from the very beginning, rake is the amount of money that a player contributes to the poker room in order to be allowed to participate in the games on the site. For this, the website organizes the game process, takes care of the safety and provides the opportunity to make deposits and withdraw even more winnings. 

The commission is expressed as a percentage and depends on the format of the game and betting limit. Generally the average rake is approximately 5% of the total pot in cash games and 10% of the entry fee in tournaments.

Typically, the rake will only be counted if the participants have opened the flop. If the hand ended before the flop, then no percentage is charged. Many rooms have a basic poker rule: the higher limit, the lower is the commission on the total pot. Therefore, the highest percentage of rake occurs at micro limits.

Rake poker models

Different poker rooms have various rules for charging the rake. It is reduced to 7 basic systems:


The rake is imposed equally on all players who receive cards at the poker table. It doesn't take into account whether a player defaulted or continued to participate in the current hand. Now this system is outdated and is not used in popular online rooms.


Rake is paid by the winner at the end of the hand. The size of the payment depends on the size of the winnings and is a percentage of it. It is rarely used, as well as mentioned before Dealt system.

Simple Contributed

The essence of the method is that the commission is paid by those participants who have invested money in the pot. The deductions are divided equally. Such an approach is fairer than the Dealt system, but also  has its disadvantages. The player who deposited the money can pass, then his opponents will compete for the pot — the rake will be paid by all remaining participants.

Weight Contributed

Now we have the most common and at the same time complicated variant of rake calculation. WC commission depends on the amount a player has deposited in the pot. It is expressed in percentages and is now considered to be the most accurate and objectively taking into account the interests of users of different online poker rooms. 

A variation of the Weight Contributed system — the loser takes everything. The rake is distributed between players depending on the amounts lost. If a participant has not lost a single poker hand during the session, he does not pay the commission.


Considered to be the most modern rake system in the world. It is defined by the acronym SBR, which many ironically translate as «System of Betting against Regulars» or «Source Based Rake». In this system the rake depends on what the players’ investment: his own money from the deposit or earned money. By deposit we mean the starting deposit + the sums of all replenishments and cashouts. 

Playing with earned money is when a participant deposits $10, wins $5, and bets that $5 to play. Therefore, a reduced rake will be applied to him.

Let's analyze the situation: two participants have contributed equal shares and the total rake will be $20. Each of them will pay $10 commission. Half of the commission is calculated using the Weighted Contributed scheme, where participants are guaranteed to receive $5 rake each. 

The remaining money is distributed based on "deposit ability". The first player rolled from the deposit money and has $7.5, while the second player rolled from the money he won. So he won't get more than $2.5. If both participants are in the same position, the rake will be split equally.


A variation of the PVI scheme (Player Value Index), the loser takes all. When the room commission is automatically distributed among the participants — depending on their level of play. The PVI system itself analyzes everyone's progress based on their statistical indicators in the poker room.

Let's analyze the situation: two poker players paid $10 into the pot, and rake was recorded in the ratio of 30% to 70%. The regular will pay the smaller part, and the amateur more. Bonuses are still wagered according to the Weighted Contributed principle. This is a kind of WC without taking into account the winning player — if he doesn't lose a single poker hand during the session, his rake will be equal to zero.


This system was introduced more than 10 years ago and it is quite likely that you have not even heard about it. The reason is very simple — TVR rake structure does not affect the interests of the player and for him the rake is still calculated according to the classic Weight Contributed scheme. 

The TVR system in turn calculates rake distribution between different poker rooms within the network, as well as affiliates. As a result, sometimes it gets ridiculous, when for a professional player who made say $1,000 rake, an affiliate can get only a few tens of dollars.

As already mentioned above — the player is not affected by these relationships between rooms / affiliates and he can safely have his 50% rakeback. Or sometimes even higher.

What is taking a rake in poker tournaments?

So, earlier we’ve talked about rake in cash. Now let’s move on to tournament poker. Here the rake represents a portion of the buy-in. By making an entry fee to an online event, the participant instantly pays a commission. At the same time, if he cancels his registration, he will get back not only the buy-in, but also the rake. 

Rake bonuses for tournament players are awarded after the end (with prize money or without ‘em) or players’ departure from the poker competition.

In most online rooms much rake is collected in this way: each participant is charged a certain fixed amount of buy-in for the tournament. It’s calculated 5-10% of the commission to the online poker site. If the ticket to the tournament costs 1 dollar, then 10 cents of each player will not go to the prize pool, but will be charged as a rake.

Within the framework of loyalty programs poker rooms return a part of commissions to players. This is a kind of encouragement for activity. This category of people generate significant amounts of rake and can get a decent bonus in the form of returning part of it. 

Those players who play online tables rarely and generate little rake can count on small bonuses or rakeback.

Why poker rake is so important for pros

Many poker newcomers assume that a small percentage of rake will not affect the total return. However, professional players know that the commission eats up a lot of money over the long distance. Sometimes it can be equal to the amount of total income for the month. That's why many online poker sites have the concept of so-called rake refund — rakeback. It helps to partially recoup the cost of the paid commission.

There are gradations on the size of rakeback. If someone plays poker on real money actively and steadily, he can reach higher VIP status. Here there will be much more opportunities. For this purpose you will have to choose those disciplines or tournaments where the rake is easier to generate. 

Promotion to VIP-levels allows you to get more bonus points from poker rooms for every dollar of rake, which means that you can increase your rakeback / cashback.

In particular, the higher the VIP-status, the bigger the rakeback will be — on average it is 20-30%, but some poker rooms offer more favorable deals: 40% or even up to 50%.

Some restrictions may apply to the amount of the rake. The room sets the highest limit of money for the commission for each type of bet. Once you reach the highest amount, the rake will not increase. This is especially true for big bets. It is also important to understand the term "rake cap" (CAP). It means the largest amount of rake in one hand.

The higher the CAP, the less profitable will be the game in the chosen online room.

Conclusion on raked poker game

From this article it is clear what it means to take a rake in poker. In online rooms, there is a certain commission fee for the provided games and services. This commission is called rake and is charged as a certain percentage from the banks played. On average, it is 5% in cash and 10% in tournaments. It’s important to research all poker room offers and commission percentages before registration.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rake in Poker

What is a high rake?

A good rake is between 4% and 5.5%, with a cap of $3-$4. We wouldn't recommend playing with a rake higher than 6% — especially at micro limits.

What is the difference between NL50 and NL500 rake?

Usually, the rake percentage is the same at NL500 and NL50. The difference lies in the caps when compared to big blinds. For example, at Pokerstars NL500 — 5%, 0.6BB cap, NL50 — 5%, 4BB cap.

Which poker sites have the lowest rake?

It depends on the stakes. At micro stakes, the lowest rake is at PokerStars and WPT Global. At medium (NL100-NL600) — PokerKing and CoinPoker.

What does 5% rake mean?

5% is the percentage of rake a poker room takes per bank in poker cash games. In tournaments, this commission is added to the buy-in.

Is 5% rake beatable?

Yes, if you play online with a reasonable winrate. Also you should participate in many real money hands to overcome variance.

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