Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting Raked

So last night's fundraiser was an interesting experiment. MB had originally proposed that everyone bring a can of food to poker and I ended up proposing that we do a rake instead. I knew a standard 10% rake would be ludicrous and I was trying to figure a way to raise some money without totally draining the table of chips. I figured 5% would be like online and would be .50 (one BB) out of a ten dollar pot. I also thought we could cap the donation per hand. I settled on 1% with no cap figuring that we would definitely have some big hands with Omaha on the slate. With some $100 pots, a few bigger pots, and a smattering of $25-$99 pots we'd get a couple bucks from everyone which would equate to a can of food or so.

The results were surprising. $52.75 from a 1% rake with $2010 in play. One might immediately conclude that a 10% rake would have meant over $500 would have been raked or 1/4 of all the money on the table but that would not be the case. True, with an uncapped rake we would have exceeded the $4 cap on at least one occasion (largest was a >$575 pot, which was chopped) and maybe one or two times more. But those few instances would have been more than outweighed by the starting rakes on lower amounts. There were many >$20 pots coming up just shy of the $25 threshold where the rake started which would have contributed much more money. Even if we went with the online equivalent of 5% rake and a $3 cap we would have still raked substantially more money than we did.

I know that we all know the numbers and have read the stats on how rake affects your yield but it's not until you actually see the chips pulled out of the game that you truly appreciate how devastating the rake can be.

Other side notes:

* I realized that dealers at casinos have an easier job calculating rake since they just need to count up to $40. Doing the math of a $38.50 pot with a $18 bet and two calls on the river involved more math than I was anticipating. Casinos also typically cap out early so they don't need to worry about counting the total amount of the pot after two big stacks both push all in.

* Though we've joked about it, beating a 1/2 table with a 10% rake does have its challenges. Not impossible of course, but highly dependent on a steady stream of fish to feed the tables.

* It is really deceptive how much money gets taken off the table in rake. I know that over one session there is a lot of churn from the same chips being bet over and over. Still, the nickel and diming that happens every hand is so subtle that it is difficult for players to get a sense of just how much money is being bled off bit by bit.

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