Rake is the money taken from the house of host of the game from each hand. This, along with fees charged for tournaments (For example in a $10+$1 tournament, $10 goes towards the prize pool and $1 is taken by the house), is how they make money.
The amount of rake taken varies from poker room to poker room; however it is normally between 0-10% of each pot (after it reaches a specified level) and between 5-10% of a tournament buy-in.
Inline with bricks and mortar casinos who offer comps in the form of hotel rooms, show tickets etc., to their regular patrons in order to encourage continued activity; so to do online red flush casino and poker rooms, most commonly in the form of rakeback. Some offer rakeback schemes directly whilst others may utilize rakeback affiliates who will be remunerated by the site for referring you.
Sites can afford to offer you rakeback because they are giving away just part of the profit they make on your play in order to retain your custom, this maintains traffic and keeps money circulating at the tables. As a result of more games being played, they essentially take less rake but this outweighed by the increased number of instances in which it is taken. Better to take 1% ten times, than 5% once!
Some sites continue to reward members in relation to the size and frequency of the deposits that they make and whilst it’s fine alongside rakeback schemes, alone it hinders the ability of a consistently profitable player to maximize their return and fails to reward them, despite their value as a member. If this is the case with, write to them and see if there is anything they can offer and if the response is negative, then I would seriously suggest considering changing poker rooms.
The amount of rakeback offered varies, a competitive market meaning that rates of up to 60% can be found for some sites if you’re prepared to shop around, however you should always read the small print and be aware that like anything in life, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!