OK......FTP Limit Holdem rake/rakeback analysis.
First, remember (as stated in my post above), we play for profit and rakeback is a rebate on the cost of play - but it is important to maximize any rakeback on offer to reduce your costs. The FTP rake rules are as follows:
You are entitled to rake if you are dealt into the hand and a flop is seen by any players in the hand (it does not have to be you).
Up to 0.5/1 the rake is $0.05 for every $1 in the pot up to a maximum rake of $0.50 (for a pot of $20+)
At 1/2 the rake is in blocks of $0.25 for every $5 in the pot up to a maximum rake of $1 (for a pot of $20+)
At higher levels the rake is in blocks of $1 for every $20 in the pot up to a maximum rake of $3 (for a pot of $60+)
The rake structure is designed to be spread evenly over increasing pot size, but the actual choice of the pot size boundaries for increased rake allows a tactical decision to be made to maximize rakeback while maintaining the potential for our primary goal of table profit from opponents. If we look at the normal betting process to a river showdown in limit holdem games - let us assume only 2 players are involved in the hand and it is a shorthanded game with 6 players:
A preflop raise in called by the big blind and a flop is seen (the small blind folds and is dead money)
A continuation bet on the flop is called and the turn is seen.
The original raiser bets and is called and a river is seen.
The original raiser bets and is called and a showdown takes place.
There are other sequences - raiser takes it down before the flop, or there are reraises, the betting nay be capped, the hand may end on the flop or the turn, the defender may raise the turn and so on - but the reason I highlight the initial sequence is to show how the pot develops to the river without any additional betting, either from the existing players in the hand or from other players preflop. We can establish the impact on rake for the standard sequence and then see if the additional factors have any influence on the rake figure for the hand.
The following table shows the total pot size at each stage and the actual rake in the hand for the 6 buyin levels from .5/1 up to FL15/30:
A number of conclusions can be drawn from the table (we take for granted the impact of rake has a direct 27% relation to rakeback):
1. You need to play FL15/30 to guarantee maximum rake on any flopped hand with just 1 opponent.
2. You need to play FL10/20 to guarantee maximum rake on any hand reaching the turn with just 1 opponent and 2/3 of maximum on the flop.
3. You need to play FL5/10 to guarantee maximum rake on any hand reaching the river with just 1 opponent and 1/3 of maximum on the flop and turn.
4. You need to have extra bets from 2 players or extra players in the hand to incur ANY rake before the river in FL3/6 and FL2/4.
5. You need to have extra bets from 2 players or extra players in the hand to incur MAXIMUM rake on the river (and increased/possibly maximum rake on the flop and turn) in FL1/2 and FL0.5/1
6. It will take 2 tables of FL1/2 to make a rake comparison with FL2/4 at similar BR levels and the actual cost of rake on the FL1/2 tables will be 50% higher the rake at the FL2/4 tables for similar hand scenarios.
It is the last point that allows you to examine if there is a tactical advantage from playing 2 tables of 1/2 or a single table of 2/4 (assuming BR is adequate of course). You need to examine your BB/100 hands profit at each level, taking into consideration the higher cost of rake at the 1/2 level and the impact of rakeback (which has less value at the cheaper rake higher buyin levels), the ability and agression level of opponents and how your own style changes as you go up the buyins.
The cost of rake falls at the 2/4 and 3/6 levels (if we are comparing similar types of active games at each level) and rises again at the 5/10 level before tailing off at 10/20 and 20/40 and certainly if you are rely on your rakeback for a montly salary (it is the way I treat it), seperate from your daily gains/losses, the 2/4 and 3/6 levels are not the best levels to play.
Just a thought - everyone is different, but the message is 'think before you decide what to play, in order to maximize profit'.
(NL is 5 cents per $1 pot up to a $3 maximum rake (for a $60+ pot) whatever the level, therefore no potential tactical advantage applies - but you should be aware the rake/rakeback for equivalent NL buyins v FL based on the same BR runs at around 50% of the FL level.)