Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Rake

I played on the internet yesterday.

Can I already say it was a nostalgic experience?

There's definitely a different high for me than playing live. The speed. The number of hands per hour. Crazy rushes good and bad. The ability to play multiple games at once. And of course the variety of games....tourneys, sit & go's, heads up and full ring cash games. Boom boom boom.

A good time indeed.

After sitting in front of the computer clicking on a mouse again I'm prepared to say that at this point in time players on the internet are way better at poker than live players.

I guess they have more of a purpose for being there. Half the players at live poker tables in Vegas are just there to kill time. Have a good experience. Maybe get lucky. But they're completely prepared to lose their buy in.

On the internet other than the beginners, people are playing to win. Alot of them are too aggressive. But it serves a purpose. And if you think about what a hassle it is (not to mention the stigma) to fund an online poker account these days, what you get left with today are good online players.

AKA: The players who don't need to make new deposits.

I usually play on the better known sites that you see advertised on TV.

However I have also played a little bit on a smaller site called the World Poker Exchange. And this is going to sound like a commercial. But this site is by far the best one out there.

It has nothing to do with the players. (Usually you want to try to play with bad players).

It has nothing to do with the graphics. (Some sites have cooler looking images than others).

It has nothing to do with the games offered. Or the tournaments. Or anything related to the experience of playing.

The reason the World Poker Exchange is the best place to play poker at is that there is no rake.

This is truly phenomenal.

When you play poker (whether it be live or on the internet) a rake is taken from every hand. It might not seem like alot of money to you at first.

Maybe a few dollars from each pot.

But it quickly adds up.

If a group of players sat at a table and played poker forever eventually all the money would be gone. It would go to the rake.

It's just a matter of time.

I sat down last night and began my evening playing heads up 1/2 limit against this guy who I've beaten up on a few times before. He has two moves in his arsenal, one of which is to raise you on the button and if you bet out the flop he ALWAYS reraises.

I feel like I cracked his code. Anytime I have a piece of the flop I lead out. He raises. I call. Then I check raise him on the turn.

We do this over and over again for hours. I let him bully me and win all the small pots and I usually win the bigger ones.

I've now played this guy 3 or 4 times and my task is to take all his money before the rake does.

Last night we both started with 100 dollars. After an hour or so I was up to 130.

And so you'd expect him to have 70.

But he didn't. He only had 40.

Where did the other 30 dollars go?

The rake.

So basically I was up 30, the poker site was up 30. And we were racing for the remaining 40.

This is exactly why it's so hard to make a living playing poker. You're not just trying to beat the other players. You have to beat the rake. It's your toughest opponent.

If no rake existed in poker then perhaps half the players at a table could be winners.

Or at least "not losers" since all the money on the table would just move from player to player.

But with the rake in effect only a small percent of the players are actually making a profit at the table.

A chunk of players who should be making a small profit are instead paying that in to the rake and breaking even. And an even larger group of players who are basically playing even sum poker are now losing a small amount each hour. Again the same concept. The money that would and should have kept these players "even" is instead going into the rake.

Or at least until the World Poker Exchange came along and eliminated the rake.

Actually what they do is even better. Because they still take the rake out of each pot. And then send it back to you every Monday. If they just didn't take out the rake I probably wouldn't really appreciate how good they are. But by taking it out and giving it back to me I can clearly see how ridiculous the rake is.

Especially on the internet. Obviously live casinos have to pay rent, employees, electricity. They're giving you drinks. They have a better excuse for taking money out of every pot.

But on the internet these costs are pretty small. Yet most gaming sites have managed to stick to the live rake format and actually get away with it. Obviously online sites want to make money. It's the reason they're open for business. But the rake they take should be smaller.

(This of course is what our government should be regulating. The rake. Yet when it becomes completely legitimate to deposit money to play online poker again I have this funny feeling that the rake will still be there. The only difference will probably be that we'll be paying it to some big corporation like Harrahs.)

Last night I played on the World Poker Exchange at lower limits for around 3 hours.

And afterwards my cashier page showed that I had accumulated over 60 dollars in rake that would be coming back to me next Monday.

It adds up.

Now all I have to do is "break even" to show a profit.

World Poker Exchange also gives back the rake you pay on their tournaments.

When you enter a "20+2 tournament" the 2 dollar rake that the house would usually keep gets refunded to you as well.

At this point I'm sure you're wondering what the catch is here. How can they run a poker site for free? (Again, I'm not being paid to advertise for them. But I am impressed. And I simply hope their business model effects the way other poker sites decide to structure their rake.)

Here's what their literature says:

It seems too good to be true—how can we offer No Rake poker? Why aren’t other sites doing it? What’s the catch? The answers are actually quite simple.

Most online poker sites have a single revenue stream: collecting upwards of 5% out of every winning pot. In today’s growth-driven industry, it’s simply impossible for them to reduce, let alone eliminate, their single source of income. World Poker Exchange, however, has many sources of revenue, including World Sports Exchange, one of the most successful sportsbooks on the Internet. We’re confident that No Rake poker will deliver major new traffic to our other businesses, including sports wagering, in-running betting, horse racing, and casino wagering.

Now, with 100% of the rake being rebated to your account every week, you’ll only have to worry about outfoxing the other players at your table, rather than having to beat the house as well. This will give all our players a much greater opportunity to achieve a net profit at the tables and will allow them to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a week. We can’t think of any better way to mark World Sports Exchange’s tenth year in business.

We believe poker should be a fun, free service available to all our customers, rather than a means to “rake” them over the coals. With the advent of No Rake Poker, World Poker Exchange is now the only place where it truly pays to play.

No comments: