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Poker rooms, regardless of whether online or land-based, are some of the most lucrative businesses in the gambling sector. In fact, poker enterprises can be described as money-making ventures that attract millions of customers from all around the globe.

However, it is safe to say that even though poker is the most popular casino game, it can also be considered to be the least profitable. This, as it turns out, is not exactly the case. Players always flock at poker tables more than they do for other casino games.

How Is Poker Different?

Unlike most other casino games, poker does not involve players betting against the house. Instead, poker players bet against other players and win money from them. There is virtually no house edge when playing poker, which means that the casino does not win money from the poker player. Despite this, poker rooms are still considered to be a core offering in many casinos across the globe.

Casinos and poker operators make lots of money, all thanks to their poker operations. From regular poker games to huge tournament series, the poker industry boasts of mind-blowing revenue figures.

Keeping all that in mind, the question that you may be asking is how the sector can make operators so much money. Well, in most part, it all comes down to one word – rake.

Image of Female Poker Dealer dealing cards

Poker Rake

To understand how casinos manage to make so much money from poker, we need to break down the concept of the rake in poker. In the simplest terms possible, the rake refers to the commission that a casino or poker operator takes from every hand in poker, thus creating a house edge of sorts.

The rake will vary from one casino to the next, depending on several factors. This means that there are so many different kinds of rake the different casinos may take for their poker games. That said, it is vital to get acquainted with the different types of poker rake to ensure you are not met with any surprises when you are trying to join a poker game.

Some of the popular poker rakes that I came across include:

Pot Rake

Poker Rake Icon

This is arguably the most common type of poker rake, which involves the dealer taking a small portion of the pot (usually 5 to 10 percent) every time that a player at the table wins the pot. In most cases, this happens as long as the hand makes the flop – there is usually a no-rake policy that applies to hands that don’t get to the flop.

Fixed Fees

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 For games featuring high rollers, 5 to 10 percent of the pot is an awful lot of money, and most players are not willing to part with that much. To solve this problem, the casinos introduced fixed fees that the dealers collects after each round of poker.

Dead Drop

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Is a special kind of poker rake where there is a predetermined fixed amount that is paid by the player at the button before a hand begins. Every player will get to pay this as the button position rotates between all the players at the table.

Timed Rakes

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In this case, there is a fixed amount that each of the players pays to the casino for given periods of time that they spend at the poker tables. All players pay this amount regardless of whether they win or lose.


Buy-In Icon

Also known as tournament or participation fees, buy-ins are the primary way that poker operators get to set guaranteed prize pools and make a profit during poker tournaments. Just take a look at the world series of poker buy-in, which is as much as $1,500.

The amount will vary based on the size of the tournament or the operator’s policies, but, on average, they take about 10 percent of the buy-ins.

Membership/Subscription Fees

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Some casinos and poker companies have poker clubs where players need to part with some money either monthly or annually to be considered as members. These clubs attract lots of players who are impressed not just by the poker games but also by the perks that come with their membership.

The Long Game

Now, even though directly taking money from poker players in the form of a rake is the primary way through which poker operators make money, it is not the only way. In fact, there are a ton of rake-free casinos as well as casinos where the rake is extremely low, but they still manage to make a lot of money.

As mentioned earlier, people will always flock at poker tables, and this is a very lucrative market that the operators take advantage of. At land-based casinos, the revelers who come to either play or watch some poker action will buy drinks and food. These casinos also offer additional services, including accommodation facilities, which are always fully packed during events like tournaments. Many casinos tend to think of poker rooms as a guest amenity.

Image of Poker Rake Money with Poker Cards

In the online space, things get even more interesting. There are tons of online poker sites and apps available to players – quite a good number of these are rake free. Instead of relying on the rake, these operators depend on advertisement revenue. Some have also capitalized on play money or chips that are used in places where real money online gambling is yet to be legalized. These are also quite popular among casual poker players.

So, How Do Casinos Make Money From Poker Players?

As a poker player, it is crucial to understand how casinos make money from you as you enjoy their offerings. This not only helps you to manage your bankroll but also in choosing a platform that best suits your tastes and preferences. Ideally, the costs should be optimized since most poker players are looking for more value for their money.

A typical example is tournaments – such as the WSOP Tournaments – where players may be willing to pay enormous buy-ins for a chance to be at the tables. Players who pay subscription or membership fees are also, obviously, impressed by the membership perks that they get to enjoy. All in all, it is about finding something that you are comfortable with.