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           The house percentage is also known as the rake, vigorish, table charge, or cut. Wherever you play poker, except privately (and often even then), you have to pay for the privilege. This fee is usually taken as a percentage of the pot or a certain sum per hour.

            I have often heard it said that the amount you pay doesn’t matter; it is the losers who pay on behalf of the winners. In a sense this is true, but I am certain I have paid about $150,000 in table charges since taking up the game.

Also, sad to relate, I am sometimes a loser. Anyway, other people say it the winners who pay. This is certainly true if the losers have financial limits.
            Many games charge 5% of the pot, and you are expected to tip the dealers about 1% on top. This is very heavy and hard to overcome in a big-bet game. Since most pots are two-handed, effectively it is a 10% tax. e.g. you put $100 into the pot and so does your opponent. You receive back $190, a $90 win for a $100 investment.


In earlier days in Las Vegas, pots at limit poker were raked as much as the dealer could get away with. There is the story that at one casino there was just a drunk playing and all the others at the table were shills or proposition players. This did not stop the drunk running all over the game. Finally, he won yet another hand and the dealer scooped up not only the entire pot, but also some of the drunk’s own money. It was not easy to win in a game like that.
            Nowadays, a much lower percentage is taken from smaller games, and this is capped at about $3. In the large games, there is a table charge. Those I play in at Las Vegas currently charge $10 per hour, which is relatively tiny.

            It is illegal to cut the pot in England, and also forbidden to toke the dealer. The latter is unfortunate, as it gives dealers little incentive to be efficient. I have played in games where the hourly rate is as high as £25 ($40 at the current rate of exchange). The huge game described in the London lowball even had an exorbitant table charge of £50 per hour in its early days.
            If my seat must find £25 every hour and I am a winner, then the losers at the table must pay not only their time, but also split mine amongst them.

            When you play in a game which is raked rather than there being a table charge, you must adjust your style. It is essential to play tighter. Otherwise, the rake is going to get you, just like the bogey-man you feared as a child. If the total table charge by whatever system is too high, then it is possible for all the players to end up losers–especially if there is only a limited number in the school.
              Now you can understand the term GHM, going home money. In games with high rakes this is your reward at the end of a long session the house furnishing your cab fare home.


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