Poker rooms, both live and online, are in the business to make money. Like any other casino game, the house aims to turn a profit off of a poker room.
Unlike other casino games, however, poker pits players against other players. You’re not competing against the house, or at least it doesn’t seem like it.
At any poker room, however, the house does make money off of you while you play. Let’s take a look at how poker rooms make money:
How Do Poker Rooms Make Money?
Poker rooms make money in the form of rake. Rake can consist of tournament fees, time charges, or small percentages of money taken from each cash game pot.
For example, the 2021 World Series of Poker Main Event is a $10,000 buy-in tournament, but only $9,325 of each buy-in goes to the player pool. The Rio Las Vegas takes 4.725% ($427.50) from each buy-in, with another 2.025% going to dealers and staff. For every player that enters, the house collects $427.50.
Some poker rooms, such as card houses in Texas, charge hourly fees to all players. Texas poker rooms, as well as some high-stakes games in Las Vegas, charge for time instead of taking rake out of the cash games.
Most poker rooms use the traditional system of taking rake out of most cash game pots. Let’s take a look at how that works:
How Do Poker Tables Make Money?
Poker table rake usually takes a percentage of each pot for the house, up to a maximum amount. PokerStars $1/$2 cash games, for example, take 5% of each pot that goes past the preflop betting round, up to a cap of $1.
Many live poker rooms take the same amount out of every pot. Some California $2/$3 cash games, for instance, automatically take $5 out of every pot that goes past the flop.
Some poker rooms take a set amount of rake out of every hand that goes to the flop, then take additional rake if the hand goes to further streets.