Poker raid in Texas

This Poker Raid story mentions profits of five to ten thousand dollars per night.  It’s almost certainly a lie.  Here’s how you can tell.

When you hear about an illegal poker game making money, they’re either making the money from tournament fees, or from the rake, a small amount taken from every pot.  On a standard cash game poker table, a casino makes at most about $180 per hour from the rake.  They would have to be running three full tables for nine solid hours.  Most poker games with 30-50 players can’t hold three full tables for that long.  People leave, go broke, etc, and you have to break down to two or one table.  Three full tables for nine hours requires a lot more people.

Another way to think of it is to work backwards into the rake.  Let’s say a poker game is accused of making $5,000 per night.  Ok, that means the players paid a rake of $5,000.  If you assume 50 players, then that means that on average each player paid $100 of rake.  Which means that even if they won $100, they still merely broke even, and were paying the equivalent of $10-$20 per hour to play poker.

This is unbelievable, and no such poker game operates this way and continues to attract players.  More likely what happened is that the police observed people in the game playing for large sums of money, such as $5,000 or $10,000, and they assumed that the house was taking a significant amount of it. 

Because poker games don’t make a lot of money and don’t tend to be much of a social menace, the police tend to exaggerate these numbers to justify the raids.  Sad, but true.