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Beat The Rake

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Almost everyone is familiar with a per-hand rake. In each pot, the house takes out a few dollars as its cut. In live play, this rake is often taken $1 for every $10 in the pot, capped at $4 per pot (in the United States), So if the final pot is $22, they’ll take $2 in rake. If it’s $168, they’ll take $4, because $4 is the cap.

Sometimes, especially in higher stakes games, the house will take a time charge in lieu of a rake. This is a fixed fee that you pay every time a new dealer sits down (every half hour). In Atlantic City, the $1-$2 no-limit game typically has a $4 capped per-hand rake, while the $2-$5 no-limit game typically has a $5 per half hour time charge

Sometimes the players will agree to play time pots instead of paying the time charge. In this variation, the time charge for the whole table will be taken out of the first pot in each half hour to reach a specified size. For instance, say you’re playing $10-$20 no-limit, and the time charge is $7 per person per half hour. At a ten player table, the total time charge each half hour is $70. If you’re playing time pots, then that entire $70 might be removed as a one-time monster rake from the first pot that reaches $300.

Naturally, time pots make more sense in high-stakes games than low-stakes ones. If you’re playing $1-$2 no-limit, and the time charge is $5 per person per half hour, it wouldn’t make much sense to take $50 out of the first pot to reach, say, $200, because no pot might reach that much the whole half hour. At low stakes, the house’s cut is typically a much larger percentage of final pot sizes than it is at high stakes, an observation that brings us to today’s question from one of my readers.

Is my 1-2NL and 2-5NL Hold ‘em games at my local casino not profitable? Is the casino ripping everyone off?

My local casino does not have a rake, but instead they collect time.

For 1-2NL they take no rake, but charge each player $5/half-hour to play.

For 2-5NL they take no rake, but charge each player $6/half-hour to play.

After doing some research it seems that a realistic winrate would be about $6 profit per 100 hands in a $1-$2 game. It would take about three hours to play 100 hands and win $6 on average, but in that time the casino would have taken $30 in time charges.

So in fact is my casino ripping people off?

Are they ripping you off? I wouldn’t put it quite that way. But that time charge in $1-$2 is a bit on the high side. Nevertheless, I think your $1-$2 and $2-$5 games should still be eminently beatable.

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6 Responses to “Beat The Rake”

Jeff D
@ Tue May 05, 2009 01:42:23 PM

I’m pretty sure that once upon a time Foxwoods charged a seat charge AND took a rake, though now at least in the $1/$2 NL games it’s just the rake.

@ Tue May 05, 2009 05:19:47 PM

>”After doing some research it seems that a realistic winrate would be about $6 profit per 100 hands in a $1-$2 game.”

As I understand it, the (roughly) 2BB/100 or 3BB/100 win rate estimates are win rates -after- the rake, not before it. So if the time charge is only a little worse than the rake, then you can still have a positive win rate.

@ Tue May 05, 2009 06:00:25 PM

Welcome to Australia where the standard charge on a 1-2NL game is %10 of the pot capped at $6 AND $5 per player per hour. Oh, and in Sydney the buy in is capped at $100. The $5-$5 game has a capped buy in of $500, rake capped at $10 and a $10 per hour per player time charge. And tipping the dealers is illegal so there is no incentive for them to deal quickly…

@ Sat May 09, 2009 03:36:13 AM

Welcome to Sarasota, where there is a 10% rake capped at $5, a $1 bad beat jackpot, plus a $1 ‘promotions jackpot’ drop. Add $1 tip per pot and we’re talking $8/hand.

Max buyin at $1/2NL is $60. The big game $2/3NL has a max buyin of $100.

All of the jackpots are, of course, prejudiced towards the $2 straight players ($2 preflop, turn, river, 4 max bets per street). I don’t think Sklansky or Miller could beat this last game (same rake).

@ Sat May 09, 2009 10:37:08 AM

… all the more reason why online is the way to play. :)

@ Wed May 27, 2009 12:41:43 PM

i’m in the “dog house” at my local casinos but i cannot afford to tip a dealer $1 every hand at 1-2 or 2-5 live and keep playing. the economy has my income down from other sources (like to zero)and frankly, as far as i’m concerned a dealer does not deserve $25+ per hour. i do still tip but not like an atm.

as a grinder that saves me a couple hundred a month. when the money was flowing a couple years ago i wouldn’t consider such a tactic but times are tuff. other players give me a hard time but i’ll decide how much and when to tip for myself.


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