Poker rake explained
How much rake is taken in a poker game and how much rake does a particular player really pay?
In a fixed percent-rake game (where the rake is let's say 5%, with a max of $3) it is relatively easy to tell how much the house earns on every one pot. That is why the winner takes only $97 of a $100 pot, the remaining $3 clearly going to the house. How much rake you pay is relatively simple to calculate too. Just add up all the rake taken from the pots you've won, and you'll get the total amount of rake you paid. That is right, simple as that. The fact that you had equity in pots taken by others, and eventually paid some of the other guys' rakes as well, doesn't count. Even if there had been no such thing as a rake, you would've lost that money anyway.
This is one way to look at things, - from the player's point of view - however, in reality, things are much more complicated. From the point of view of the house, the money that you contribute to the different pots throughout the game, and especially the actions that you take and which directly influence the amount of rake at the end of the hand, are both very important.
The house doesn't take the rake the way you think it does. Rake is not taken when the winner takes the pot, it is taken incrementally throughout the progression of the hand. Having an equity in the pot, you also have an equity in the rake paid by the winner in the end. The winner is not the person who pays the rake, he's the one who doesn't get the money taken as rake by the house.
From the point of view of the house, the pot doesn't belong to one player or another. It's a separate entity, one that belongs to each and every player to a certain extent.
A good example to illustrate the above statement is the following: consider an extremely bad poker player, one who always sees the flop but never makes it all the way down the stretch. (he's bluffed out, he loses faith in his hand, whatever..) Now, this player never wins a pot and he basically donates his money to the other players. Since he never wins, he never pays any rake right? Wrong. His actions increase the rake taken by the house every hand. He's the sole reason why the house collects $0.50 or $1 more on each hand.
If he weren't playing the house would collect much less. So, that means he is paying part of that rake after all...
The very same example is also a good illustration of the impact the rake has on poor players. (rake has its impact on all players, only those who play well, will cope with it much better).
Furthermore, loose-aggressive play will fire up the rake. These are the players the rooms like most. Just think about it, if such a player drops in on a bunch of extremely tight and passive players, and begins to act recklessly, the rake will rise as a direct consequence of more money seeing the later stages of hands. Even if our guy doesn't manage to win a single hand (and he gives all his money to the tight-passive players around the table) the house will still get an increased rake.
This is exactly why a loose-aggressive player is worth the house ten times more than a tight-passive player. He'll get things going around the table and that's exactly what the room needs. As much money as possible, changing hands in the shortest possible time.
Since rakeback is a direct percentage taken from the rake each player generates, I think it's useful for you to know how exactly the house sees the rake it's collecting.
This is the reason why, while clearing your bonus, you receive player points for every raked hand you play, not only the ones that you win. Even if you lose constantly, you'll still be able to redeem at least part of your bonus, based on the rake you generated for the room.
The actual way the poker room will calculate your MGR (the amount of profit they make as a direct consequence of you being there and playing) will be different though.
One such method is to simply divide the total amount of rake taken from a hand with the number of players who had been dealt hands. A $3 rake would be divided to 10 players and an MGR of $0.30 would result per player.
The second method is more accurate. Only players who actually contribute to the pot are taken into account. The rest is considered 0 MGR players. They'll divide the total amount of the pot by the number of players who contributed (those who weren't in blinds positions and folded before betting anything, are not considered) this formula will give them the MGR of each contributing player, which will obviously be higher than in the previous case, when non-contributing players were also considered.
The third method is the most accurate one. It calculates the MGR of each individual player based on the exact sum he/she had contributed to the pot.
The formula would go: the amount of money contributed by a player divided by the total amount in the pot. The result is then multiplied by the amount of the rake. This will give each player an MGR which matches his contribution exactly.
It is extremely important that you receive as much MGR as possible. The rakeback you'll receive is a percentage of this MGR. The more MGR you generate, the more rakeback you receive.