What Is Taking a Rake In Poker & Is It Illegal?

In the realm of poker games, a term often used but not always understood is ‘taking a rake’. This phrase, while not common in everyday language, holds significant meaning in the context of poker. It refers to the process of collecting a fee from the poker table’s players, a common practice in both land-based and online casinos.ย 

However, the legality of this practice varies from one jurisdiction to another, and it’s crucial to understand the implications before getting involved in a poker game.

What Does Taking a Rake Mean In Poker?

The ‘rake’ in poker is essentially a service charge that a live casino or club levies from each pot in a poker game. This fee is usually a small fraction of the pot, typically around 5-10%, but it can fluctuate depending on the specific game and the casino or club that’s hosting it. For example, online casinos often take a rake as a percentage of the buy-ins.

The dealer is usually the one who accumulates the rake, and the casino utilises it to cover the expenses of conducting the game, like compensating dealers, procuring chips, and maintaining the poker room. The rake isn’t generally taken from the blinds but from the pots that a player has won.

Note: The rake is not uniform across all casinos. Some casinos extract the rake through the cash pot, while others may take it through tournaments via the buy-ins.

Why Do Casinos Take a Rake?

Taking a rake is a common practice in casinos and poker rooms, serving as a source of revenue to cover the operational costs associated with hosting poker games. The dealer usually announces the rake amount before taking it to ensure transparency among the players.

Rakes can be collected in various ways, including through a dead drop box, tournament buy-in or time collection. These methods are usually kept separate from the pot. Once the game concludes, the casino retrieves their rake from the drop box or chip tray.

Dead Drop

The dead drop is a set percentage of the pot taken by the room, usually around 5 to 10%. However, some new casinos only take a rake under specific conditions, such as if a flop has been dealt.

Time Collection

Time collections occur at specific time intervals throughout the game. During a time collection, each player pays a predetermined amount. However, time collections usually only happen in poker games with higher stakes.

Tournament Buy-In

This is a fee you pay if you want to participate in a poker tournament. Each tournament has its own percentage, typically between 10-20% of your stake per tournament. 

What Is No Rake Poker?

In contrast to traditional poker games where casinos take a rake, no-rake poker games do not charge any fees from the pot. This type of poker game is often seen as more player-friendly, as players can keep all of their winnings without any deductions. However, these games are less common and may be offered as promotional events or in private poker sessions.

Is Taking a Rake Illegal UK?

While rakes are legal in many states and countries, including some parts of the UK, they are not legal in every jurisdiction. In some countries, laws prohibit or regulate the taking of rakes in poker casino games.

For example, in the UK, it’s unlawful to take a rake if you’re running a private poker game and don’t possess a gambling licence. This is because it’s viewed as facilitating a form of gambling as a business, and thus, it would be illegal because it is unregulated. It can also be illegal if operated in an illegal location.

However, it’s crucial to note that taking a rake is not inherently illegal. The specific laws and regulations in the jurisdiction where the game is taking place determine the legality of the rake.

In conclusion, understanding what a rake is, how it affects the game, and under what circumstances it is illegal is crucial for every poker player. Knowing the rake schedule and looking for a fair rake amount helps in making informed decisions before playing poker. 

Be sure to check with your jurisdiction’s gambling authority to determine in what instances taking a rake may be illegal.

And as always, remember to gamble responsibly and stick to your budget.

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