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.