If you play cash poker, chances are the room will take a small percentage out of each pot. This is called the rake.
In some cases players are simply charged hourly fees, especially for higher limit games.
But most of the time the casino or poker room will make money with the rake.
Now, depending on which room you play at, not every pot will be raked. For example, there may be no rake if:
- The pot is lower than a certain amount
- There is a special promotion
- The pot is split between two or more players
- The “no flop, no drop” rule applies
The last sentence refers to the relatively common practice of not taking any money out of the pot if the hand ends pre-flop.
In other words, if the table doesn’t see the flop, there is no “drop” (no rake).
No flop, no drop
No flop, no drop means that if the hand ends before the flop, the pot will not be raked. For example, if the button raises to $15, the small blind re-raises to $50, and the big blind goes all-in and makes the two opponents fold, there will be no flop and therefore “no drop”.
Usually, this does not influence play style — it simply makes the players happier as they know no rake will be taken pre-flop.
Besides the rake, some rooms also take a chip (e.g. $1) for the jackpot fee.
This could be a bad beat jackpot, or a royal flush jackpot. Basically each chip taken from each pot goes into a prize pool and whoever wins (let’s say whoever is dealt a royal) gets the jackpot.
In this case, the “no flop, no drop” rule may also apply.
Meaning: if the hand ends before the flop, the dealer may not take the jackpot fee either.
How much is the rake in poker?
Again, this depends on the room/table.
In most casinos, the rake will be 5 percent or 10 percent of the pot, and will almost always be capped.
In other words, there will almost always be a maximum amount that the dealer can take from the pot.
So if the rake is 10 percent, but capped at $4, a $2,000 pot will not be raked $200 — just four dollars.
If the room collects a jackpot fee as well, then the dealer would take an extra $1 or $2. That’s still way better than two hundred, right?
Plus, there may be certain promotions where a player is not charged a rake. Some examples:
- Timed. Let’s say a poker room opens early in the afternoon, and there’s usually no game at that time. To encourage all players to show up earlier, the room may offer rake-free games during the first hour or so.
- Heads-up. Nobody likes to play poker heads-up (that is, two players instead of a full table), so some rooms do not charge any rake until there are at least three players.
- Winning hand. In some casinos, if you win the pot with a specific hand e.g. 3-2 of hearts, you will get a rake-free session.
- Regular player. Have you played for X nights in a row? You deserve a rake-free session!
- Food/drinks. Normally, drinks are free for all poker and casino players. However, in some casinos you may get a rake-free pot if you spend more than X on food or drinks.