How Casinos Make Money on Poker

min read
A person picking up poker chips
BetMGM Jan 12, 2023, 12:55 AM

The stakes are high, and the adrenalin even higher when you get a taste of what casinos have to offer. Regardless of whether you prefer live dealer casino games, casino table games or something modern such as online slots, the thrill is a constant. Poker is one of the most popular casino games to have stood the test of time, and the digitalization of casinos has made it even more accessible and popular.

Given its staying power and appeal to patrons from different generations, you might wonder how casinos make money from it, especially because players don’t play “against” the casino. Instead, they play against each other. So, you may be asking yourself, “Do casinos make money on poker?” The short and sweet answer is yes – and we will explain how. If you’re still in the process of learning the meaning of certain poker terms, you may well have wondered what is a rake in poker? So, let’s start there. 

How do casinos make money on poker?

Casinos do indeed make money on poker, despite it being a player-versus-player game. They do so by taking a portion of the winnings to offset the costs of facilitating the game. This is known as “the rake” which some people have usefully compared to a tax. However you like to think about it, the rake is part and parcel of playing the much-loved game at a casino.

In brick-and-mortar casinos, the poker rake can be used to cover the costs of equipment, staff and other overheads. In online casinos, such as BetMGM, the rake can cover hosting costs, software as well as any other online operational costs.

To paint a clearer picture for you, in poker cash games, casinos make money by taking a small percentage of the pot. While the size of the percentage may differ from one establishment to another, it is capped depending on the stakes (blinds) that you are playing. For example, in $1/2 NLH the capped amount could be anywhere between $3 and $10 a hand. This often depends on the size of the pot. In most cases, however, the house rake is a fixed percentage.

When it comes to poker tournaments, casinos make money through the buy-in that players pay to participate. In this case, the rake is broken down into two parts: the first, larger, part goes into the prize pool, which is usually around 90% of the buy-in; the second, smaller, part goes to the tournament operators and usually amounts to 10% of the buy-in. So, in a $100 buy-in tournament, $90 would go to the prize pool and $10 to the operator.

Differences based on the stakes

Higher-limit poker games are preferred over lower-limit poker games. The latter typically have a rake of 5% or more and a high cap. On the other hand, higher limit tables usually have a rake of around 3% with a lower cap. The reason why higher limit games are better based on stakes, is that regardless of the blinds, the cost of infrastructure and equipment remain the same and the casino must somehow cover these costs. 

Other ways in which casinos make money

Considering that a casino’s offerings are so varied and diverse, it only makes sense that a casino will diversify the ways in which it makes money. Apart from poker games, casinos also make money from the following:

  • Table games and slots: Although poker is a drawcard for people, some patrons prefer table games and slots, which are also key sources of income for the casino. To join a slot tournament, casinos typically charge a fee. 

Unlike in poker, a key consideration in other casino games – such as blackjack and slots – is the house edge because players are essentially playing against the casino and not other players. The house edge is there to guarantee the casino an income from these games. 

  • Food and drinks: This applies to brick-and-mortar casinos. Everybody knows that no casino experience is ever complete without food and drinks to power you through what may well be a very long day or night at the table or slots.
  • Accommodation: Patrons spend hours, sometimes days, at a casino, which can be tiring. In such cases, the convenience of having accommodation within walkable distance is an unmatched luxury. This is especially true for players who might have traveled very far to enjoy the live action or learn a few tips and tricks from observing the greats at play in a tournament. 

Explore a variety of poker games at BetMGM

It’s no secret that casinos are in the business of making money. With poker being a timeless and memorable casino game, casinos will always profit from it. In addition to many other online casino games to try out at BetMGM, we offer an impressive selection of poker variants to keep things exciting. Discover these and more when you register with us. 

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.