Peanuts Per Hand
Let’s use a simple thought experiment and some bar napkin arithmetic to understand something that most poker players overlook. Imagine a full time Texas holdem Poker player in a $10-$20 game. He is dealt a thousand holdem hands every week. He actually plays only 400 of those hands, wins 50 pots and he wins an average of $1,000 a week. Our imaginary player does well. Divide the number of hands he plays into the average weekly win and you’ll get an expectation of just $2.50 per hand played – – peanuts per hand!
Our player is imaginary and there’s plenty of bar napkins so you can juggle the figures any way you want, but you’ll still come up with peanuts. With this in mind, the rest of this page becomes a little more meaningful.
Casinos and poker rooms either rake each pot or charge the players on a time basis. It’s part of the poker player’s overhead. I prefer a rake. Tight players win fewer pots and pay less rake. Charging the players time costs everybody the same.
The casinos and poker rooms provide us a place to play, security, dealers, a fair game, impartial settling of disputes, and promotions to attract players. Any reasonable rake or time charge is worth it.
I once played in a poker room that did not allow the players to toke the Slot dealers. TIPPING THE DEALERS WAS NOT ALLOWED! There must be very few poker rooms in the world with that kind of policy. It was wonderful!
Tokes are an important part of the dealers’ income and part of the poker player’s overhead. I want the dealers to make their money, but you are playing for yourself. Keep your toking affordable.
Estimating Rake and Toke costs
If you play Texas holdem poker full time (about 40 hours a week), you will be dealt about a thousand holdem hands every week. If you play every hand at a full ten player game, you probably win about a hundred pots a week. If you play tight, you might win about fifty pots a week, maybe less. Multiply your normal toke times the estimated number of pots you win to get an idea of how much money you are toking the dealers each week. Multiply the maximum rake times the approximate number of pots you win to estimate how much you are paying the casino each week. Don’t overlook additional rakes for bad beat jackpots. If you play in a casino that charges time, you should already know how much you are paying the casino. This is just an estimate, of course, but it does give you an approximation of your rake and toke overhead.
Your cost to play becomes important when compared to your average win on a weekly or annual basis. Casino rake is less significant in higher limit holdem games, but it still represents a substantial percentage of your poker income and you should be aware of it. You’ll have to win as much as it costs you to play just to break even. You’ll have to win much more to get a decent edge.
If all else is equal, play in the poker rooms that cost you the least or give you the most. Paying a little more rake is probably worth it in a casino that attracts more players and offers more games you like. Your play records should tell you which is best.
Part IV will discuss Play Records.