Check rake and collection rate for poker in casinos

It was an eye-opener when I picked up a copy of the “New Collection Rates” at a local casino.
I admit I had not paid much attention to the rake (often called the “drop”) – the chips the house removes from every pot. Generally, I am preoccupied in peeking at my hole cards, deciding on my action and observing my opponents. Also, I wasn’t aware the dealer removed the chips for the rake and subsequently calmly dropped them into slots in the table top, leading to two boxes under the table.
According to the “New Collection Rates” for Texas hold’em, this casino removes $4 in chips for the “regular table fee” plus a “designated table fee” of $1. Add to that another $1 for the Jackpot fee. That’s $6 removed from the pot each hand dealt.
As the stakes go up, the rake increases. It’s $5 for the regular table fee for all $4-$8 games and above, plus the $1 designated fee and $1 for the Jackpot – $7 in all. If only two players stay to see the flop, they can agree to “chop” – take back their bets, and the house rakes $1.
As the number of players decreases, the “regular table fee” is reduced: $3 for six players; $2 for five and $1 for four or less. No Jackpot drop is taken when a nine-handed game becomes four or less.
Like many others, I have long learned not to play at tables with five or fewer players. For one thing, the blinds come around so much more often.
I commend the casino for making the information readily available to us players. Certainly, we understand the casino must have a reliable revenue source to be able to stay in business, serving us players so well. But the amounts of the rake, especially for low- and middle-limit games struck me as a bit too much.
So I discussed it with several others, including my co-columnist, George “The Engineer.” That didn’t ease my dismay – especially, as one pointed out, you are still expected to tip the dealer when you win a pot.
It seems fewer players are tipping the dealer. So I decided, from now on, I’ll tip the dealer only when I win a decent pot. One person suggested the casino should raise the dealers’ hourly rates so they don’t have to rely on tips. Sounds fair to me.
Collection rates
So what do these mean to us players? George is good at math and calmly explained that 30-35 hands are generally dealt per hour. Including the three fees plus a $1 tip to the dealer, with 30 hands per hour, that works out to $7 x 30 = $210 as the total players’ hourly cost. At a full table of nine players, that amounts to $210/9 = $23.33 per player per hour.
If the table gets down to seven players, then the average cost per player is $210/7 = $30 per hour. That’s per player – a hard “nut” to crack, especially in low-limit games. If you buy in for $60 in a $2-$4 or $3-$6 game, and don’t have some good luck, you can easily go bust in two hours.
No wonder I see so many players often going to their pockets to buy more chips and so many leaving the table, unhappy and downcast, with empty racks – and empty pockets, too.
Some of my friends told me they were well aware of the situation and have joined home games instead. Several have found pub league games in bars and restaurants that operate without a rake – (the businesses make their money off the food and drinks sold.) I am giving it serious thought.
With all the empty tables and fewer playing in low/medium-limit games in the local casinos, what would happen if the casino took 10% of the pot up to a maximum of $5 (including the Bad Beat Jackpot drop) from every hand dealt? Interesting thought.

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