Beating The Rake

To be realistic, the house already has an edge on you. The rake is built in so that the house takes money from you in small, unnoticed amounts. There are a few guidelines you can go by to minimize this…

Some poker rooms will only rake the pot once it has reached a certain amount, so you want to play opposite the style of the table in these cases…

You can exploit tight players through tactics such as blind stealing and through buying free cards. Blind stealing is simply betting when only blinds are left in the game pre-flop. You can raise from the small blind position or from the position just before the small blind (usually the dealer’s position) to try and steal the cost of the two blinds. Buying a free card is a trick best used in last position. If no one else has raised post-flop, then you bet. This will most likely cut down on the number of players (and potential money in the pot), but everyone who stays will tend to check to you. Then on the turn, after everyone has checked you don’t necessarily have to bet again. That is why it’s called a free card. It’s best used with drawing hands, too.

When playing against aggressive players, you tighten up. Be mindful of your position. Play only premium starting hands and fold after the flop if you didn’t come up with much. The reason for this is the same reason for playing tight at all. You will get raked when you win, but if you win just one extra big hand for playing like this, you’ll have covered the cost of the rake. Savor that one when your single high pair beats the same pair because your kickers are always better.

If the rake is a set percentage (usually 4% to 10%), the tactics for an aggressive player won’t be as successful. Every failed attempt at blind-stealing is going to be raked, and all bluffing is now 4%-10% less worth it. You have to be a better player to overcome that percentage, and once you get to that point, you shouldn’t be too preoccupied with the rake. If you are a beginner, play tighter than usual.

In some casinos, if the games become short handed, you can actually ask to have the rake reduced or eliminated. It’s called a rake break. I don’t believe the dealers are allowed to suggest it though, so ask about it.