September 13, 2014

Cash Game and Rake

This post is to help educate those who have unrealistic expectations from online poker and steer you in a profitable direction. We get a lot of feedback from people expressing dissatisfaction with cash game results. When I ask them to post examples from the bot’s session log showing where it played badly they are almost always unable to. (That’s because our poker bots play darn good poker.)

People get into online poker thinking that $100 bills will start pouring from their a: drive slots on the front of their computer. But they don’t have enough understanding of what is actually going on to avoid the pitfalls that await them.

A typical $25 max cash game will have about $180 on the table in a full 6-max table or about $280 on the table in a full 9-max table. With a $2.50 average pot in 6-max and a $4 average pot in 9-max that makes the average rake per hand .13 in 6-max or .20 in 9-max. In 6-max they deal about 65 hands per hour and in 9-max they deal about 40 hands per hour. Either way that’s a little over $8 per hour being removed from the table in rake.

Now pay attention to this. If everybody sits there and keeps playing, within 23 hours (less than a day) every single chip currently sitting on the table will be taken by the poker room in rake at the 6-max table. At the 9-max table it’s not quite as bad – there it will take 35 hours (less than two days) for the poker room to get every single chip on the table. 

OK folks – what is your plan for beating cash games? What’s that? What exactly is your plan for winning money when every chip on the table, all the stacks, will be taken by the poker room within a matter of hours? Especially knowing that everyone gets dealt the same cards on average? Waiting for pocket aces or pocket kings, is that the plan? Oh wait, playing slightly better than your opponents – is that it? Are you starting to see why I do NOT recommend the Super-tight settings or even the Semi-super tight settings?

Most people who read this still won’t get it. The rake from each pot is so small it just doesn’t seem significant. Surely if you cleverly check-raise your set on the turn that will make you win money at poker, right?

The truth is the only way to make money in small stakes cash games is if one or more players at your table are blatantly giving their money away, and soon. Of course that situation never lasts long. We get criticized a lot for presenting a game plan of trying to just break even playing poker and have the rakeback as profit. The reality is even that is very difficult to do when all the money on the table is being taken by the poker room in a matter of hours. It is a great testament to our bot when we get reports from people who kept even $400 of the $600 signup bonus at Full Tilt as profit.

SNG’s are much, much better. However if everybody in your SNG is playing about at the same skill level, all you are really doing is paying the entry fee each game. But these can be beaten because not everybody plays good tournament strategy, which is actually more important than playing good poker in SNGs.

MTT’s are the best way to go by far. Your entry fees are paid by all the bad players who don’t have a chance. Note that even a good cash game player is a bad tournament player if they don’t understand tournament strategy, which is equally as important as playing good poker in an MTT. To make things even better you can only play the Guaranteed MTT’s where it looks like the entries will come up short. In general MTT’s are how you can make some real money in online poker.

When we get posts from arrogant boasters talking about how they make thousands of dollars playing low stakes cash games, it is pure BS. The way to make money in cash games is to play high enough stakes where the rake doesn’t have as devastating of an effect and wait for weak players who will call off their stack when holding only 1 pair.