A lot of new poker players start at an online poker site because of a deposit bonus or because their friends play there; in the case of B&M casinos it may simply be a matter of location. What often isn’t on the top of a player’s list for choosing a room however, is the rake, and it should be.

1) Think of the rake as a really good player at the table. I mean a really, really good one. So good in fact that they never lose. This means if you’re at a table with players mostly at or about your skill level, winning is going to be tough, because you’re all giving up to the really good player that the rake represents. As you trade pots back and forth [as equal players will often do], the rake comes out ahead and even though you’re playing even, you come out behind. You need to consider the rake in your game selection.

2) If you play online, take a close look at the rake schedule for your site and compare it to other sites. You’d be surprised how greatly it can vary, and how much it matters to your bankroll. For example, if you play about 5 hours a day for a month at 5-10, you can reasonably expect to contribute $1500 to the rake. Even a rake difference of .05 a pot would make a significant difference in your overall contribution, and over the course of a year of steady play, you can be talking about hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Check to see how much a site charges and make special note of rake variations when the game gets shorthanded – some sites offer much better deals than others.

3) If you play live, and there’s only one casino in your area, you’re probably getting robbed. I know of some places that drop 10% up to SIX DOLLARS, even at 3-6 or 4-8. You cannot beat these games, and it’s not worth your time. If there’s another place to play, even if it means a few extra hours drive, consider switching.