How Do Casinos Make Money from Poker?

Noah Adams - Content Editor at CasinoCrawlers
by Noah Adams
How do NZ casinos make money from poker
Published: 10/05/2023
Reading: 6 minutes

Poker is a popular casino game because it requires players to use strategy. Unlike other casino games, the outcome isn't based solely on luck. Players need to be smart about their moves in a poker game to win. Many poker games are peer-to-peer, with one player in the match becoming the lucky player. With games like this, how do casinos make money?

Today, we're going to break down how casinos earn money from poker players. Casinos earn money from a poker rake. This is slightly different than slots and other table games. Read to learn more about the pot rake.

What is the 'Rake' in Poker

Casinos aren't going to let people enjoy their game tables for free. They do need to earn a profit. For that reason, when peer-to-peer poker events are taking place, the casino will take a rake. This is a portion of the pay-in that they keep for compensation.

How is the Rake Calculated?

The most common way to calculate a rake is by a percentage. Typically, the casino will take a 5% to 10% rake. For example, if the poker pool was at $100 and there was a 10% rake, the casino would take $10 and the winner would receive $90.

It's also important to know that most casinos will have a capped rake. This means that if a prize pot exceeds a certain value, the casino will only take a specified amount.

How Do Casinos Take the Rake?

The rake will be taken directly from the prize pot, otherwise known as a pot rake. Each poker game will have a dealer who hands out the cards and chips. Before allowing the winner of the game to take their chips, the casino will "rake in" their share of the money.

Different Cash Games have a Fixed Percentage Rake

The pot rake mentioned above is one of the most common ways for casinos to make money from hosting poker games. With this method, casinos can earn a great profit from high-stakes games, especially if they have multiple poker tables.

Other ways to use the rake method are with a dealt rake or a contributed rake.

  • Dealt rate - the dealer has a set amount per game for the rake. Each player contributes the same amount to cover the cost of the rake.
  • Contributed rate - with this method, only players who have put money in the pot pay rake. Anyone who has folded won't pay towards the rake.

Hourly Rate Model

Pot rakes are one of the most common methods casinos use for poker tables. However, there are other ways they take a rake. Some players don't like the above method because the casino could take a good portion of their winnings. For example, if a player won $5,000 on a poker game with a 10% rake, they would have to hand over $500 to the casino.

This is why many casinos have introduced an hourly rate model. Players pay a fixed rate for a seat at the table. Some casinos will charge a fee for the hour, while others will charge per game.

Differences Based On The Stakes

Most casinos will determine the rake by a percentage. This means they won't earn the same amount from every rake. The higher the stakes in the games, the more money the casino could earn through the rake.

Now, brick-and-mortar casinos have a lot of expenses to cover behind the scenes. They need to make a profit to cover the cost of operations, labour, and upgrades. But, at the same time, they are only allowed to take up to a certain amount. For this reason, each casino will have a maximum rake cap. Always check the rules of the locations to know the exact amount.

Tournament Fees

Another way casinos make money on poker is through tournament fees. This can be done at both brick-and-mortar casinos and online poker rooms. Poker tournaments attract a lot of players. For this reason, the casino will make money by charging an entrance fee to compete instead.

Some casinos may keep the poker rake for tournaments. However, there generally lower the rate so they don't take as much money from the pot.

Explaining the Difference Between Online Poker Rake vs Live Poker Rake

The main difference between the rake in online poker rooms vs the brick-and-mortar casino is the size. Online poker rooms take a smaller rake because they don't have as many expenses to cover. An online poker room with a peer-to-peer match costs less to operate than hosting these players in a live building.

Many online poker sites allow people to play against the computer. If playing against the computer, the casino won't need to charge a poker rake. However, the casino will also have a house edge. When a player wins a round, they will earn a profit. But, for every round they lose, the casino keeps the funds.

How to Beat the Rake in Poker?

Always play regulated poker games if you want to try to beat the rake. It is possible to beat the poker rake, but you will need a strategy to make it happen. Here are some tips that professional poker players use.

Avoid Small Pots

The poker rake percentage is often based on the size of the pot. When the pot is higher, the poker rake will be on the lower side. Try to avoid pots that have the minimum amount in them. These pots will always have the highest rake amount.

Avoid Short-Stacked Games

Many players look for short-stacked games because they feel like they could have an advantage over less experienced players. However, this is similar to the small pot rake. The poker rake on short-stack matches is always the highest. Playing against experienced players may be more challenging, but there is an opportunity to possibly win good profits.

Steal the Blinds

Always review the rules before choosing a poker room to play in. We suggest looking for poker cash games that feature the "no flop, no drop" rule. What this means is that if a player folds, the casino won't take a rake.

Top 5 Best Poker Sites with the Lowest Rake

Do you want to play poker online in New Zealand? These are the best sites to check out for low-rake poker games.

1️⃣ Pokerstars - World's largest poker site. Try free games to practice or choose from one of many poker rooms and other casino games.

2️⃣ 888 - Fun online casino with many poker rooms. Players can enjoy a generous welcome bonus and weekly freerolls. Read our expert review of this poker site.

3️⃣ Tigergaming - One of the leaders in online poker rooms. This company launched in 1999 and is still a top choice in NZ for online poker.

4️⃣ GGPoker - One of New Zealand's favourite sites for online poker tournaments. The $150 buy-in gives players a chance at winning up to $500,000.

5️⃣ PartyPoker - This fun site allows players to use the same mindset they would playing at a live casino. One perk is that players are eligible for a cashback bonus on weekly losses.

Other ways casinos make money

Casinos can make money on poker. But, that is only a small part of how they earn revenue. There are many different casino games that gamblers play for real money. Slots are the most popular casino game. Every slot machine has an RTP% (return to player). What this means is that a percentage of money spent on the games gets returned to players randomly as winnings, while the casino keeps the rest to cover the costs of operations.

People that visit the casino are out for a night of entertainment. There are other venues on the location where they will spend money. Nearly every casino has at least one bar on site. People will purchase drinks to enjoy on their night out. Many other casinos also have restaurants, hotel suites, and other venues on site.


Casinos make money on poker through the rake. The rake is a designated portion of the game's prize pool that is used to compensate the casino. Other ways that casinos make money on poker is by charging a fixed fee or an hourly rate for the chair. It's also common to charge an entry fee for poker tournaments.

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Author Noah Adams

Noah Adams has been working as a Senior Editor at since 2022. Here, he has gained first-hand experience with the iGaming industry and how he can help readers find top NZ casinos. Previously, Noah held positio... Read more about the author

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Last updated: May 10, 2023