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How to Beat the Rake
CEO "Rocket Boy" 02.17.2009

Online poker has many inherent advantages over brick-and-mortar casinos. There's no commute, no waiting, you can multi-table, and you don't need to tip anyone. And, of course, you can use poker tracking software like FlopZoom!

But you still pay to play, just like at your local cardbarn. Casinos wouldn't even spread poker if they couldn't make money on it. You're not playing against the house, so the only way for the house to make money is by taking a percentage out of each pot or by tacking an entry fee onto your tournament buy-in. These are the two forms of "rake." Together, they add up to a pretty significant drain on your bankroll.

In a b-and-m, the only way to get back some of your rake is by getting a job there. But online it's easy. Here's how the rake drains your bankroll, and what you can do about it.

Rake Adds Up Fast
So, you might think that no-limit cash games should be more or less rake-proof, with their potentially large pots. If you keep the pots big, the rake will be relatively small, so you shouldn't worry about it. Right? Wrong. The rake steadily reduces the amount of money on the table. On almost every hand. If nobody adds chips or leaves, the house will eventually get it all.

In reality this never happens online or live. But the rake affects your bankroll even in the hands you don't play. If player A wins a pot and doubles up, he pays the rake. If you bust player A now, you're effectively paying the rake twice. First, you're only winning what player A had after he paid the rake on his double up pot. Second, you're paying the rake out of the pot when you bust him. By removing money from the table on every hand, the house reduces the amount you can and do win.

Let's do a little math. Say 9 players all bought in for $100, all won the same number of hands, and all paid the same amount in rake. At the start, there's $100 x 9 = $900 on the table. For simplicity let's say everyone has paid $10 in rake after playing some hands. Now the total amount on the table is $90 x 9 = $810. That's 10% of all the chips on the table gone to rake. Doesn't seem like a lot at first, but think of it as almost a whole buy-in, with no way for anyone to win those chips back.

It's a Bigger Factor Online
Even a brisk b-and-m game will see only about 30 hands an hour. The physical card shuffling and dealing, even with a shuffling machine, drastically slows things down. Then add all the time taken for dealer pushes, floor rulings, and new setups.

But online you should be seeing a minimum of 60 hands per hour 9-handed. At 6-max and heads-up tables you could see up to 100 to 200 hands per hour per table. If you're multi-tabling, the sky's the limit. Online, you can play as many hands per hour as you want to. And each one will be raked. "Just the cost of doing business" you might say. Well, businesses are always looking to reduce their costs, and you should too.

Rakeback
The way to reduce the cost of the rake is appropriately named "rakeback." The rakeback sites work together with the online poker rooms to return a portion of the money you pay in rake. Directly to you. Couldn't be simpler.

One of the best rakeback sites we are aware of is RakeBrain.com. Their rakeback percentages are at the top of the charts, their membership is free, and getting started with them is a snap. RakeBrain.com supports all the major online poker rooms, but we have found that some of their best rakeback deals are with Full Tilt Poker and with Absolute Poker.

Seriously, there's no reason for you to be playing online and not taking advantage of rakeback. Online poker rooms get enough money from you already. Do yourself a favor and get back some of your hard-earned cash.