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The Rake

The poker player who opts to play in a casino poker games must maintain with some sort of rake. Many private games also have a rake.

"Rake" usually refers to cutting the pot. It can also refer to the time charge used in California casino poker games and also few Nevada poker games.

The size of the rake is not insignificant. Any poker player who is trying to win over the long run had better consider the rake before deciding whether to sit down in particular game.

The rake is like the ninth player in the game except he can't lose. How would you like to play in a game where you knew that one particular rival would be ahead $600 after ten hours?

Obviously, with this piece of knowledge you would not sit down especially if the game is very small. The chances are that that players will wind up the only winner if all the players compete the full ten hours.

You are encountering this when you play in a 10 percent rake, $3 maximum, $1-$3 limit game.

Based on the speed of the game and the size of the pots, the rake can take $60 per hour off the table.

So in order to play in a game like this it has to be very good (unless you are playing for enjoyment and no matter what whether you have the best of it.)

When any professional or any new learner evaluates the playability of a game in respect of the rake, he must consider various factors. However, it takes us to one thing how much is the rake cutting into his expected profits? Before answering to this question the player must first answer another question how much would he figure to win per hour on average if there were no rake?

This expected hourly profit is an essential concept. A winning player should be able to approximate how much he should average winning in one hour if there were no rake. The best player, for example, can figure to average winning about two bets per hour before the rake.

Hence the expert should average about $20 per hour in a $5-$10 game, $80 per hour in a 420-$40 game and so on. (The higher the stakes, the lower the expected hourly win in terms of bet, since the bigger games are tougher. It is better to win one bet an hour in a $50-$100 game than two bets an hour in a $20-$40 game.)

The second step would be to calculate the amount you figure to lose per hour to the rake. This figure is obvious if the game charges time.

For example, if you are playing in a $10-$20 seven card stud game you might estimate that it is worth $15 an hour to you if there is no rake. Now if the casino charges $2 per half hour your profit figures to be $11 per hour (on average). Whether it is worth playing for this net hourly rate is up to you.

When the pot is cut, it is fairly difficult to ascertain how much money the cut is taking from you. If more hands are being played each hour, the total rake from all the players will be greater. Should the game be slow, however because several player are in almost every pot, you want to play in an average cut game than in a time game.

Just thinking along the same tracks, the amount you will average paying to the casino per hour is closely related to the number of players in the game.

A short-handed game is terrible if the pot is being cut. It should be prevented unless the game is very easy, except when the cut is considerably minimized. (Some casinos understand that maintaining the same percentage rake is unfair when the game becomes short-handed and thereby reduce the rake. Unfortunately, this reduction doesn't generally take place until the game has been reduced to four-handed. Hence, five-and six-handed games are the ones that cost the pot.)

There are three reasons for this i.e. why short-handed takes away the most per hour away from your profits:

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•  You figure to get more deals per hour hence more money is taken out of the game per hour.

•  You will win large proportion of the pots in a short-handed game. Because you are getting in more hands per hour, you figure to win many more pots per hour than in a ring game. Each of these pots has been cut. Therefore you pay much more per hour to the rake in a short-handed game.

•  In a short-handed game the pots will be smaller but the rake will not be proportionately smaller. This is because most of the rakes are set up to get the maximum amount as early as possible.

For example, a standard rake structure might be posted as "5 percent rake, $2 maximum." This means that the full $2 is cut when the pot reaches $40 and not afterwards.

In a full game, the average pot may reach $100 which would make the $2 cut out of it a 2 percent rake. A short-handed game is likely to have pots of $40 or less where the cut is a full 5 percent of the pot.

What all this boils down to is this: When you are playing in a game where they cut the pot, you must estimate the amount that the cut will take from you on average every hour.

You subtract this number from the amount you figured to win on average, per hour, if the pot wasn't cut. This is your net hourly winning rate. If it is high enough you should play. However, it is possible, particularly in a short-handed game with no reduced rake, that the size of the rake has made a profitable game not worth playing.

(The whole discussion is mainly concerned with smaller games such as $1-$3, $3-$6 on up to $15-$30. Higher games than this nearly charge time. When they do cut the Omaha pot the percentage is negligible.

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