And the rake killed it. I would like to preface this post by saying that you may view this as an andr3w321 can’t win anymore so he’s going to blame rake post, but I try to be as fact based as possible in my analysis and as I stated in my last post I am clearly not the only one struggling at the moment and from the various threads I reference on 2+2 I am clearly not the only one who feels this way.


Playing 1/2 NL I pay about 10 cents per hand in rake. This is 2.5 big bets per 100 hands played. This is higher than most winrates and everyone is paying it. You win or lose, gotta pay the sites their guaranteed variance free, risk free winrate of 2.5BB/100 from everyone at the table. There’s a number of threads on 2+2 discussing this topic if you’re interested.

Nobody really seemed to notice they were getting raped so badly on rake when winrates were high and it was really easy to overcome the high cost of rake but in the months and years since as winrates have declined the rake has not. In fact, it has done the opposite and increased (when was the last time you saw a half decent redoposit bonus? blackcard promotion? ahem, rake increase promotion?) it has affected more and more players turning them into breakeven or losing players. During the poker boom Stars and FTP were expanding their markets and continuing to bring in new fish from Europe, Asia or South America but now that the poker boom is over the market is saturated, the economy has tanked, players have gotten better and Stars and FTP have stopped supplying us with what we were paying them so highly for (an endless supply of fish with deep pockets) it’s creating much too high of a drain on the poker economy and people aren’t winning that much anymore.

You can have a look at winrates and see how much people are up this year at’em-winners-year/1-2-NL for whatever stake, site or limit you want. If you take a look at 1/2 NL there is exactly one person in the world up over 100k this year. Now take a look at how many hands and rake these players have paid and it’s disgusting. While the actual biggest winner for the year “pobolero” is up 100k over 800k hands (paid 80k in rake) take a look at someone with a lesser winrate like “redacesfull” who no doubt is supernova elite on pokerstars. The dude is up 67k over 3mil hands, meaning he has paid pokerstars 300k in rake this year. Sure I suppose he gets like half of this back but still, it’s just a completely messed up system where the harder you work and more you win doesn’t necessarily mean you will win more $$ for your self. So in actuallity, pobolero has won 180k and paid roughly 60k in rake assuming he gets 25% back for a net of 120k for the year, and redacesfull has won 367k and paid 150 to 225k in rake for a net of 142 to 200k. What does redacesfull get for his extra effort? He gets a congratulatory e-mail, a couple of stars on his online worthless badge, and the “privilege” of getting to do it again and earning a 6 figure salary for poker stars. Redacesfull has earned twice as much money playing poker this year than pobolero and is only actually earning an extra 25-40% for himself and just paying all the excess proceeds to pokerstars.

Don’t forget that redacesfull has to put his own money at risk every day and it’s not like he’s an employee of poker stars and receives any health benefits or anything from them. He could easily go broke doing this. It is quite common for employees to earn multiple times what they earn for the company they work for but they are usually putting the company’s capital at risk and they have a guaranteed salary. They are never going to go broke doing their job. Only in poker do you have the unique opportunity to go broke while paying a service provider a 6 figure salary beating everyone else at the game, but just not well enough to overcome the ridiculous high cost of doing business. Also, the more you work the more you pay. Great system.

It’s a completely messed up system and it needs to change. It’s not enough that you win at poker any more, you need to have at least a 2BB/100 winrate at each table you are playing with rakeback to breakeven (at 1/2 nl that is, at lower stakes it’s much higher, at higher stakes it’s lower) or else it is -EV to be sitting down. This is extremely difficult to handicap sometimes, and in general is just terrible for the state of poker and the games. Less and less of the money deposited is fitering up to the high stakes because the sites are taking so much from rake, that they just drain the system til it’s dry and leave us regulars to fight over what little scraps are left.

A lot of people debate the fact that we are being charged too much in rake and that free markets are at work and if I don’t like it hey I can go play somewhere else. Well, I live in Washington State in the United States. I am not allowed to play on any euro sites because I live in the US and because I live in Washington I am not allowed to play on Stars or Cake?(I think) anymore. Full Tilt is the only site I am allowed to play on. This is a monopoly. They can charge whatever the f they want. Don’t get me wrong I think Full Tilt puts out a great product and am very thankful they are still providing me with this service. I very much appreciate it. I want to make it clear that I do not hate Full Tilt in anyway. What I hate is their lack of competition.

Some people will argue that hey if I don’t like that I can just go play live. Well, my understanding is that in the state of Washington there’s some law where no more than $100 can be bet per street and obv you can only play one table at a time. This is nowhere close to the same product as online poker and there’s no way you can call this competition.

Hopefully by now, I’ve convinced you that it is in fact a monopoly. Feel free to leave a comment if you still don’t believe me and have a counter argument. Now what can we do about it? How can we get rake lowered. There are basically two choices I see.

1. Increase competition. The only way this is going to happen is to legalize online poker in the US.
2. Organize and fight back as poker players.

In response to #1 this is a slow and long process, and who knows if it will ever even happen. I have my own personal half joking, half serious conspiracy theory which is that the reason there hasn’t been a stronger push by the big poker sites like Stars and FTP to legalize online poker in the US is because they know it would be bad for business if it happened and they make much more when it remains in the grey area. They know their current oligarchy and price gouging would have to come to an end.

I mean sure a bunch of poker players have donated small sums to the PPA but how much buying power in Washington do they really have compared to the huge sums the sites could spend if they wanted to get it legalized. Truth is, they don’t want it legal and are quite happy with the status quo.

In response to #2. Poker players are notoriously both self interested and incredibly short sighted. As for being self interested, I heard at the PPA rally here in Olympia, WA a number of years ago when they were trying to protest the bill banning online poker in Washington a total of 20 people showed up. Pathetic. As far as being short sighted, how often do you see a fish berated for making a poor play? This gets brought up over and over again, but it’s terrible for the game and for your winrate.

I don’t have a lot of faith in poker players banning together for some sort of protest or boycott but if they do try to think about the greater good. If there is a mass sitout, please don’t play. Sure you may make double or triple your normal hourly for a couple of hours. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be so self interested and short sighted like I expect you to be. Break the stereotype. Be a part of something.

2 Responses to “The State of the Online Poker. The Poker Boom is Dead.”

  1. pat says:

    I’m assuming you wrote this in the heat of the moment when you were angry. You know how much money people make from online poker, I mean with rakeback included there are people making close to 200k a year at .5/1, so how is this a valid arguement. Also, if it became legal stars would get so many more customers, because they have the best technology, rakeback system, costumer service and are the easiest to cash out with. Also, both of the sites you mentioned are the most advertised. Most of what your saying doesn’t really make sense in the sceme of poker. Please go play at a casino and then bitch about rake.

  2. andr3w321 says:

    Please provide 3 screenames of people who grind .5/1 and make 200k a year in poker. They don’t exist. How can you argue that the rake isn’t too high when I pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for the right to play a game online? Name one other online game I have to pay 1/100 of the cost that I have to pay to play poker.

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