Low Rake Poker Sites

Lists and reviews the lowest rake poker sites online

Paying rake may seem somewhat painless when you're playing poker, but the truth for most players is that the rake is absolutely the toughest opponent they'll ever face.  The rake, after all, never makes a bad decision, never tilts and never loses.  At best, players can hope to mitigate the impact of the rake on their bankrolls - a goal we'll help to advance by outlining the basic mechanics of rake, detailing the impact of rake on your bankroll and finally by highlighting the online poker rooms that charge the most reasonable amounts of rake.

Understanding the Basics of Rake at an Online Poker Room

Rake essentially works the same at online poker rooms as it does at a live poker room.  For cash games, the house takes a small cut up to a maximum amount out of every qualifying pot.  For tournaments, rake is charged via the entry fee associated with the tournament.  Either way, the idea is the same - rake is the charge the room takes for running and maintaining the game.

Rake policy varies at each and every online poker room, but a few things are fairly standard.  For cash games, rooms usually have different rake structures for heads up, short handed and full ring play, and also have different rake schedules for different game sizes and types.  Rake for tournaments tends to hover at right around 10% of the buy in at most rooms, with rates generally dropping at the higher and lower end of the tournament buy in spectrum.

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Absolute Rake Versus Effective Rake - What's the Difference?

This is an important concept that escapes many new online poker players (and even some experienced ones).  Absolute rake is the amount of rake that the room charges.  Effective rake is the amount of rake you actually end up paying when all is said and done. 

Why and how are they different?  Because online poker rooms return much of the rake players pay right back to players via promotions like deposit bonuses and VIP Programs.  Calculating effective rake can be difficult in some situations, but all players should at least attempt to figure out their effective rake rate, as it's the one true measure of how much it actually costs to play online poker at a given room.

It's Hard to Overestimate the Importance of the Rake

The rake is well-designed, almost invisible to many players.  Invisible as it may be, the rake is a powerful force that exerts a very real pressure on a player's bankroll.  You don't have to go any further than tournaments to understand the power of rake - with a 10% tax essentially added on to every tournament buy in, a player must be better than not only their opponents, but also the rake. 

An example will help to illustrate this concept: Jim plays 10 heads up tournaments, each with a buy in of $10+$1.  He wins 6 and loses 4 - an excellent result - so he profits $20. Right?  Wrong - he paid $10 in rake along the way, so his profits are actually half of that.  Thanks to rake, Jim basically lost a match he didn't even know he played.

Lowest Overall Rake for an Online Poker Site: PokerStars

As mentioned above, rake varies greatly from not only room to room, but also from game to game.  That variance means no one room will have the absolute best rake structure at every game, but an analysis of rake paid at a variety of major online poker rooms suggests that PokerStars offers the best overall value in terms of rake charges for both cash games and tournaments.

Where things get far more complicated is evaluating rooms based on effective rake.  The issue is that effective rake is highly dependent on personal factors - how much you play, what limits you play, how your play is distributed and so on - so choosing a best room based on this criteria is functionally impossible.  Instead, we encourage you to review our analysis of VIP / Loyalty Programs at major rooms and then to use the tools contained in that article to calculate your own effective rake rates at the online poker rooms you're most interested in.

Which US Poker Sites Have the Lowest Rake?

The market for US online poker is so narrow that most of the major players have essentially converged when it comes to rake charges.  Whether it's Lock Poker, Carbon Poker or Bovada Poker, just about any choice you make will be more or less equivalent in terms of the absolute rake the room charges for cash games and tournaments.

For players that put in more play volume and can work to fully exploit the VIP Program, Carbon Poker likely has a small edge over Lock Poker when it comes to effective rake.  Both Lock and Carbon easily outperform Bovada, which offers fairly meager player rewards to high-volume players, in terms of effective rake.

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