You are here

Low Rake NLHE, PLO & PLO8 Online Poker Sites; A Thorough Analysis

Image Representing Rake Taken Out of a Casino Chip

Poker would be a zero-sum game if it were not for the rake – rake of course being the fee that online poker rooms charge players to play their games. The fees in the poker industry are far from standardized. Many poker rooms sneak in a little raise in rates here or offer a small discount in rake there, all in an effort to boost certain games and stakes or satisfy certain segments of the market.

As edges become thinner in the poker world due to the proliferation of knowledge and readily available training materials, the need to find a way to increase your win rate becomes vitally important. One of the most obvious ways is to choose a site that takes the least amount of money out of every pot, the lowest raked poker sites, and thus allows you to use your skill to collect the most money from other players at the table.

The challenging part though is figuring out what site takes the least from each pot and how it compares with other sites that are available to you. This website specializes in real money poker games and finding our readers the best online poker sites, so please note that most of the six networks profiled in this report also accept players from all over the world.

ProfessionalRakeback.com knows that you'd rather be playing No Limit Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, or Pot Limit Omaha/8 poker rather than scouring every possible available poker website or bugging live chat support for information, and thus we are here to help you in that quest with easy-to-decipher rake comparison charts.

We have broken down the charts into four groups: micro, small, mid, and high stakes. These tables and charts focus on the US friendly online poker networks: Pai Wang Luo Poker Network, Winning Poker Network, Horizon Gaming Network, Chico Gaming Network, Merge Gaming Network, and Global Poker.

When looking at the numbers, we are just going to consider the raw data, and will talk about mitigating factors such as bonuses, rakeback, and other money-added value considerations after all the charts.

Editor's Notes

  • This article is up to date as of February 2021
  • Sites are listed from left to right with the sites we recommend most highly, like PaiWangLuo, on the left and the troubled Merge and Global operations on the right.
  • For comparison's sake, PaiWangLuo has 5% more traffic than Winning Network, 50% more than Chico Network, 95% more than Horizon Network, and 97% more traffic than Merge Network.
  • Rakeback and bonus effects discussed at end of article
  • If you find this article useful, please share it with others

Micro Stakes NLHE/PLO/PLO8 Rake Analysis

TLDR; - Lowest Raked Micro Stakes Poker Sites

2NL/PLO/PLO8 - Winning Poker Network
5NL/PLO/PLO8 - PaiWangLuo Network
5NL/PLO/PLO8 HU - Winning Poker Network
10NL/PLO - Global Poker
10PLO8 - PaiWangLuo Network
10NL/PLO/PLO8 HU - Winning Poker Network

Playing at the least-raked micro-stakes sites is a simple process. All you need to do is to clear your web browser's cookies, then click any of the following links to create an account at:

Micro Stakes Rake Comparison Chart¹Figures shown for Horizon Network are for NLHE only; there's a separate rake structure for four-card poker, which you can view here
²The Merge Network and Global Poker don't have PLO8, but they do have regular PLO in addition to NLHE

For the penny games, $2 buy-ins, the Winning Poker Network offers the only games in town. PWL is pretty good at $5.

Once one gets to the $10 buy in levels, things get a bit more interesting. This is the lowest stakes that Global Poker spreads Hold'em and Omaha Hi, and it generally has lower rake than its competitors: one of the few stake levels where this is true of Global.

However, there are troubling aspects to Global Poker that should give any aspiring player pause. Look below in our section devoted to information on each poker network to arm yourself with the appropriate information before joining Global.

PLO/8 is not available at Global, but the PWL Network has rake at 10NL that's almost as low. For heads-up grinders at all three blind levels, The Winning Poker Network is likely the best destination because its low cap of $0.50 and 5% rake in two-player games is superior to everywhere else.

On the high-end of the scale there are the Horizon and Merge networks. Horizon charges the highest percentage rake at 6.67% which will hurt micro-stakes players in the smaller pots. Merge also has high rake at 10NL/10PLO, albeit not as high as Horizon, but its rake caps are atrocious: a full $4 at full tables.



Small Stakes NLHE/PLO/PLO8 Rake Analysis

TLDR; - Lowest Raked Small Stakes Poker Sites

25NL/PLO/PLO8 - PaiWangLuo
50NL - Winning
100NL - Winning
50/100 PLO + PLO/8 - Horizon
25/50/100 HU - Winning

Playing at the least-raked small stakes sites is a simple process.  All you need to do is to clear your web browser's cookies, then click any of the following links to create an account at:

Rake Comparison Small Stakes table¹Figures shown for Horizon Network are for NLHE only; there's a separate rake structure for four-card poker, which you can view here
²The Merge Network and Global Poker don't have PLO8, but they do have regular PLO in addition to NLHE

These are the levels that one notices things start to get a bit more homogeneous and caps become a much larger part of the equation. The Winning Poker Network wins again for heads-up NLHE, PLO, and PLO/8 games at $25, $50, and $100 buyins because of its low $0.50 rake cap. The WPN is also great for those seeking action at $50NL and $100NL at any-sized table. However, at $25NL/PLO/PLO-8, the PaiWangLuo is superior, having a lower cap ($2) in full tables than the WPN ($3).

An unusual feature of the Horizon Network comes into play here too. Though its rake schedule for NL Hold'em is nothing special, it has some of the best rakes for PLO and PLO Hi-Lo tables at $50 and $100 buyins. This isn't reflected in the chart above because HPN has an entirely separate rake schedule for four-card poker, which you can access here.

The rake percent is the normal 5%, but caps in the $50 and $100 Omaha games are no higher than $1, which handily beats every other network. This is especially curious when we reflect on HPN's $20PLO rake, which can go as high as $3. The WPN is the next best with pretty reasonable short-handed caps and an overall 5% rake structure.

Chico and Global between them take the “prize” for worst rake at these stakes. Each of them rakes 5.6% and has caps of $4 in some cases. Global Poker and Horizon (for NLHE) are somewhere in the middle.



Medium Stakes NLHE/PLO/PLO8 Rake Analysis

TLDR; - Lowest Raked Medium Stakes Poker Sites

200NL - Winning
200PLO/PLO8 - Horizon, Winning
400NL - Winning
400PLO/PLO8 - Horizon, Winning
600NL - Winning
600PLO/PLO8 - Horizon, Winning

Playing at the least-raked mid stakes sites is a simple process. All you need to do is to clear your web browser's cookies, then click any of the following links to create an account at:

Rake Comparison Medium Stakes chart¹Figures shown for Horizon Network are for NLHE only; there's a separate rake structure for four-card poker, which you can view here
²The Merge Network and Global Poker don't have PLO8, but they do have regular PLO in addition to NLHE

This is the level where rake might start to matter a little less to some players, and game selection, or even availability, starts to become a factor. The mid stakes is where winning players tend to win much more money over time than they pay in rake thus leaving behind the proverbial “rake trap” that players in the lower stakes are often faced with. Game availability also tends to suffer the higher up the ranks one goes.

Thus, the larger sites in this comparison will be the sites where one can find multiple games running, even at non-peak hours. The smaller sites one will often have difficulty finding games outside of peak times. Starting games is always an option; just be sure to pay attention to the heads up and three-handed rake levels if you happen to be a frequent game starter.

The WPN wins at $200, $400, and $600 games for all NLHE tables with only the occasional instance where a competitor matches (but does not beat) its rake schedule. On the PLO and PLO/8 side, the Horizon Network is better with the WPN as a close second choice.

However, if you're a four card poker enthusiast who plays at mid stakes and has to choose only one site to sign up at, the Winning Network is probably the way to go. This is because its player traffic is an order of magnitude higher than HPN, and so there are actually games running at these levels. Unless, of course, your intention is to minimize your rake contribution to $0 by not sitting in any games, but that isn't what this page is about.



High Stakes NLHE/PLO/PLO8 Rake Analysis

TLDR; - Lowest Raked High Stakes Poker Sites

1000NL - Winning, PaiWangLuo, Horizon
1000PLO/PLO8 - Horizon, Winning
2000NL - PaiWangLuo, Winning, Horizon
2000PLO/PLO8 - Horizon, Winning
5000NL/PLO/PLO8 - Winning

Playing at the least-raked high stakes sites is a simple process. All you need to do is to clear your web browser's cookies, then click any of the following links to create an account at:

Rake Comparison High Stakes Table¹Figures shown for Horizon Network are for NLHE only; there's a separate rake structure for four-card poker, which you can view here
²Global Poker doesn't have PLO8, but they do have regular PLO in addition to NLHE

High-stakes poker players know that rake is not the biggest consideration when choosing a site to play at. Game selection becomes a much bigger issue at these stakes due to lack of steady round-the-clock action at any of the sites. At these stakes, it often makes sense for a high-stakes pro to sign up at all available sites and cherry pick games as they are made available or to simply start them oneself. With this said, it is still important to know if one is getting a good deal or not, and the chart above should be quite useful in helping you pick which sites to devote more action to.

At the $1,000 level, the Horizon Poker Network, WPN, and PWL all have similar rake for NLHE games, but Horizon is quite a bit lower in game traffic than the other two. Horizon has clearly better rake for PLO/PLO8 tables at this stake as well, but player volume is again an issue. Chico has some tables running at this level too during most times of day although the rake it takes is considerably worse than other sites.

At $2,000, it's a similar story. WPN, Horizon, and PaiWangLuo have similar rake structure for Hold'em while Horizon is the clear winner for four card poker. Again, Winning and PWL are more realistic options because HPN has pretty low traffic.

At $5,000 buy-in, there is only one site in this list that offers tables, and that is Winning Poker Network. There tends to be 1-3 25/50 games that spark up each day; the trick is to catch them because they don't seem to run at consistent times. We recommend searching for them at peak Euro hours, peak US hours, and late night in the US especially on weekends. Even though they have no competition at these stakes, WPN continues to offer a rake schedule that is superior to some other sites' small stakes fees!

Merge doesn't even offer tables at $1,000 and higher while Global's rake chart is consistently bad for the short-handed play that you'll undoubtedly encounter at these stakes. Chico only offers tables at $5/$10, and it's rake arrangements leave a lot to be desired.



Value-Added Considerations

Chico Poker Network: Chico Network is slightly worse than average when it comes to cheap rake with a percentage across the board of 5.6%, higher than the normal 5%. Where it does shine is providing soft games with sports and casino punters.

It also has a decent initial deposit bonus of 100% up to $1,000 though it clears at only a 10% effective rakeback rate. There used to be a comp points program good for another 5% - 6% cashback, but this system has been discontinued. You can opt into cash game leaderboards within the cashier section of the poker client, but these probably only deliver a small percentage of the rake back to all but the most dedicated volume players.

Overall, we're looking at perhaps 15% - 20% rakeback equivalent at best. If you want more info on Chico Sites, visit our full reviews for BetOnline, TigerGaming, and SportsbettingAG.

PaiWangLuo Poker Network: The PaiWangLuo online poker organization has competitive rake at 5NL, 25NL, 1000NL, and 2000NL. They also happen to be the largest option reviewed and the eighth largest network in the world. With anonymous games and no permanent player tracking, players who like to play GTO or highly exploitative Nemesis strategies will love practicing their arts on the soft and plentiful tables.

The initial deposit bonus is 150% up to $1,500 and clears at 50% effective rakeback in cash games, and 30% effective in SNGs and multi-table tournaments.

PWL Network is composed of Ignition Casino for US players and Aussies, Bovada for Americans who wish to bet on sports in addition to poker, and Bodog for Canadians and Latin Americans. If you want more info on PWL Network sites click the links above to read our reviews.

Horizon Poker Network: After analyzing the rake charts we have provided in this report, you may have no desire to play on Horizon Network, especially considering they won no untied categories until the 1000NL limit. Yet, this is perhaps the best -raked site for PLO and PLO/8 at the $50, $100, and $200 buyins.

Moreover, there are bonuses, rakeback, rake races, and other promotional offers to claim here. Horizon Network offers an industry standard deposit bonus of $1,000, but what isn't standard is that it is a 200% matching bonus, meaning that you only have to deposit $500 in order to max it out. It also clears at a surprisingly fast rate.

If you have our industry-best 36% rakeback deal (using dealt methodology) then it clears at roughly 27%, and if you are on the VIP system (best for players raking more than $2,000 a month), clearance rates can exceed 50%.

There are also weekly rake races for players amounting to $16,000 per month. With rakeback, deposit and reload bonuses, a rake race, and a loyalty program, it’s a very profitable place to play, and the effective rake drops down to ultra-competitive levels.

For more in-depth information on Horizon Network poker sites, visit our reviews for Intertops and Juicy Stakes.

Winning Poker Network: This network has low rake compared to its competitors, and that's a fact. The only downside to this low rake is that the games tend to be a bit tougher than at most other sites. Still, there are plenty of added benefits (described) below. Also, FWIW, the management at this site wants to become the next PokerStars (pre-Amaya) and are tirelessly working toward achieving that goal.

WPN offers an initial deposit bonus of 100% up to $1,000 and frequently has reload bonuses that range in value from $200 to $1,000. Most of these bonuses clear at 20%+ effective rakeback.

There is a flat 27% rakeback offered on many of the skins on Winning Poker Network. This is optimal for lower stakes players as it guarantees a 27% rate of return. If you are a player who will rake less than $1,500 per month, we suggest opting for rakeback.

Higher-stakes and higher-volume players, those raking in excess of $1,500 per month, should instead opt to be on the Elite Benefits rewards program. High stakes / high volume players can earn up to 70% rakeback on an annual basis using Elite Benefits VIP. If you're not sure whether rakeback or VIP rewards would be best in your case, we suggest that you quickly read this WPN rakeback and Elite Benefits explanation guide and choose the appropriate program for your pattern of play.

In addition to rakeback and VIP rewards, there is also a weekly cash game rake race called “The Beast” that rewards around 40 players per week with $500, twice that many with $250, and so on down the line. It's a huge boon to high-volume grinders. In fact, players who grind at Super Nova Elite level (old Stars players know what we're talking about) can earn upwards of $100,000 per year in VIP + Beast rewards!

To read our full reviews of all of the aforementioned WPN poker rooms simply click any of the following links to said reviews: America's Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, True Poker. For native Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking players outside the United States who wish to play on WPN, we suggest signing up on YaPoker.

Global Poker: Global Poker has some worse-than-average rake caps especially for play at tables with fewer than six people.

There's little other reason to make Global your internet poker home. It doesn't have any bonuses or rakeback. There's only a single method for deposits and just a handful for withdrawals, and the site isn't compatible with third-party tracking tools. PLO/8 fans are out of luck because this format isn't supported. Global has opted to focus on recreational customers in its marketing and advertising efforts, and this is probably a wise decision for them because most knowledgeable players would rather head elsewhere.

Unfortunately, these recreational users are getting a raw deal. Beyond the details we've just discussed for electing to take a pass on Global, there are also concerns with its business model, competence, and honesty. If you'd like to learn more about why don't recommend this site to our readers, check out our comprehensive Global Poker review.

Merge Gaming Network: Consisting of Carbon Poker, PlayersOnly, Sportsbook.com, and a few other minor skins, the Merge Gaming Network used to be one of the most popular online poker sites in the U.S.A. market. However, those days are long gone.

In addition to taking a higher-than-average percentage of rake (5.6%), it also sports caps that go as high as $5. While Merge does have Fixed Limit Omaha-8, split-pot Omaha isn't spread in PL form. Moreover, there's little in the way of rewards beyond first deposit and redeposit bonuses. Merge has broken its promises to both players and affiliates before, and it even sometimes bans winners from its tables.

To learn more about the significant problems at Carbon and the other Merge rooms, browse over to our Carbon Poker review.

Conclusions

Everything is a bit of mixed bag, and individual promotions and game softness need to be taken strongly into consideration when choosing a poker site.

If you are basing your decision on what site to play at solely off of the effective rake taken from each pot, then the Winning Poker Network is very competitive at all levels, and it's the only site on our list that actually spreads games at every single stake level covered in all three variants (NLHE, PLO, and PLO/8).

Small stakes PLO (hi and hi-lo) aficionados may prefer the Horizon Network and its low $1 rake cap at $50PLO, $100PLO, and $200PLO.

When taking rakeback and bonuses into the consideration things get more complicated once again. Horizon becomes a serious candidate in all blind levels that it supports because its bonus and rakeback more than compensate for the fact that its rake structure is nothing special. The Winning Poker Network also has remunerative rakeback deals.

PaiWangLuo tends to be around the middle of the pack as far as the amount of rake they charge. However, they are the site on our list with perhaps the softest games, and their rake schedules are by no means bad. The 100% up to $1,000 bonus also clears pretty rapidly.

The Chico Poker Network tends to be on the worse side of average as far as rake goes. Yet, it has a variety of every-changing promotions not just for its poker room but also the attached casino and sportsbook. If you like to take advantage of multiple promotions for distinct product verticals, then this might be the place to go.

The Merge Network and Global Poker generally have unappealing rakes across the majority of the stakes/games that we've covered. This might be forgivable if these operators boasted a broad array of bonuses and promotions; however, this is sadly not the case. Merge doesn't reward players with anything much beyond welcome and reload bonuses, and Global doesn't even have any bonuses! If you want to receive the perks you deserve as a dedicated grinder, then avoid Merge Gaming and Global Poker.

Rake considerations are sometimes challenging to talk about in some ways as each player is different and because of that we would encourage you to Skype us for a personal consultation so that we can most appropriately guide you to what internet poker sites would work best for your particular playing habits.



We hope that this guide has been useful to you and we encourage you to share it with anyone and everyone you know! Sharing is caring; please use the like button and post this in forums when people ask about rake at poker :)

Banner Divider for Poker Rake FAQ

On this page, we've focused on comparing which online poker rooms have the lowest rake. If you didn't understand our explanations or are still wondering what it all means, then maybe our FAQ below contains answers that would help illuminate your understanding of this subject.

The rake is the portion of each pot that the house keeps for itself as a fee for providing the games. The rake is typically expressed in the form “X% up to Y.” X is the percentage of the pot that the house retains while Y is the maximum amount taken.

For instance, if the rake is 5% up to $3, then this means that the poker site extracts 5% of the pot for itself, but the maximum rake per hand is $3 even if $3 is less than 5% of the final pot size. This upper limit on the amount of rake is called the “cap.”

It's usual for the rake structures to vary based on stake level and the variant of poker being played even at the same site. In tournaments and SNGs, the poker operator takes a tourney fee rather than a rake.

If a particular site has low rake, this means that it is removing very little from each pot, meaning that there's more of the money remaining in the middle for the winner of the hand to claim. Low rake leads to better financial results at the tables for both winning and losing players.

Although many pots are raked, it has become standard for some of them not to be. Generally speaking, hands that end preflop are not raked at all. Additionally, the rake is taken in specified increments, like $0.05 for every $1 in the pot. In this particular case, all pots smaller than $1 would be rake-free.

Furthermore, uncalled bets are not raked. If someone makes a bet or raise and the opponent folds, ending the hand, then these final chips put into the pot are returned back to the bettor, and rake is taken only on the amount actually in the middle of the table.

It's sometimes hard to decide how rake paid should be credited to each player. For example, if nine players are dealt into a hand that winds up being raked $1.80, did each player pay $0.20 in rake? Or is it only players who actually put money into the pot who paid the rake? Perhaps it's only the winner of the hand who really paid because he or she would have ended up with the entire sum if there were no rake.

Most poker sites use the weighted contributed formula to assign rake to the players. This methodology credits players with paying rake based upon the amount they contributed to a given pot. Not all poker rooms used the weighted contributed model. Intertops, which is listed in our charts above, employs dealt rake mechanisms instead.

For more on the various rake attribution procedures in widespread use today, head over to our explanation of rake and rakeback calculation methods.

Rakeback is a certain percentage of the rake automatically refunded to you at designated intervals. At some rooms, there's a minimum threshold that must be reached before any RB payment occurs. At others, you'll obtain whatever rakeback you've earned when the time for payment rolls around no matter how small it is.

Almost all rakeback deals include tournament and sit-n-go fees within the total sum on which the RB is calculated. However, bonuses and other promotional winnings may be deducted from this total.

If you have the option to play with rakeback but you elect not to exercise it, then you may be costing yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. For more information about rakeback and to sign up at the best online poker rakeback sites, check out our list of RB offers.

Professional Rakeback has the following job openings:

  • Image Creation and Optimization
  • Online Casino and Slot Reviewer
  • Live Poker Venue Reviewers in US, CA, AU
  • Book Reviewer
  • Drupal Developer
  • Forum Moderator
  • Twitch Poker Streamers

All positions are remote, make your own hours, easy-going work environment.

If you are interested in any of these positions, simply contact us and let us know why you are the person for the job!

Follow Professional Rakeback on social media: