This leaves casinos with a problem (both brick and mortar and online poker sites).
Providing personnel, facilities and software to host the poker games cost money, but they are not paid for doing so.
This is where rake comes in. The rake is the commission that a casino takes on every hand played.
This is the most common means of generating revenue from its card room.
Rake is an often over-looked factor by poker players. The few dollars or cents that poker sites take from each pot can add up quickly.
Thus, rake needs to be taken into account when choosing what games, stakes and sites to play at.
The exact Pokerstars rake structure can be found here
but what does this rake structure mean in practice?
How much rake do you pay?
In this article we are going to answer this question for NL10, NL50 and NL200.
NL10 (Blinds $0.05/$0.10)
We looked at 3.3 million hands of NL10 6-max and compared the rake to the average pot with regards to the number of players playing.
For heads-up games the average rake is 2 Cent while the average pot size is 50 Cent.
For 3 player games the average rake is 3 Cent while the average pot size is 75 Cent.
We can see a linear rise in rake and pot size.
With each additional player the average rake rise by 1 cent, and the average pot by about 25 Cent.
A 6 player game has an average rake of 6 Cent and an average pot size of $1.58.
Playing 100 hands of NL10 6-max generates $6 in rake!
Our 3.3 million hands sample generated a total of $174,005.13 in rake.
The average number of player during a hand is 5.2473.
The average rake per hand is $174,005.13 divided by 3,316,079 = 0.0524...
This means that the a player pays $0.01 rake per hand on average.
After playing 100 hand of NL10 6-max you payed $1 in rake.
NL200 (Blinds $1/$2)
Lets move on and take a closer look at NL200:
The average rake for heads-up games is $0.29. The average pot size is $15.20.
Looking at the ratios of pot size and rake we can spot a significant differnce when compared to NL10:
For 2-4 player games, the ratio of pot size and rake is much better at NL200.
The ratio for heads-up games at NL10 is $0.5 divided by $0.02 = 25. So the average pot size is about 25 times the average rake.
The ratio for heads-up games at NL200 is $15.20 divided by $0.29 = ~52. The average pot size at NL200 is about 52 times the average rake!
It's similar for 3 and 4 player games.
Ratio of Pot size and Rake in NL10 and NL200
When looking at the ratio of pot size and rake we noticed an interesting difference between NL10 and NL200.
To follow up on that observation we express the rake and pot size in Big Blinds to make it comparable between the stakes:
The difference comes from the fact, that the average pot size in 2-4 player games is much higher at NL200 when compared to NL10.
But not only the pot size is higher, at the same time the rake is much lower at NL200.
And this counts for any number of players!
There you have the reason why it's much easier to beat the rake at NL200 than it is to beat at NL10.
When looking at games offered in casinos, poker is unique in that players are not trying to beat the house, just their fellow players.