This is strange for me to write about because Harrah’s Cherokee was my favorite place to play poker for many years. The poker room is still the most comfortable I have ever played in, and I have played in at least 50 poker rooms across the United States. I know this is a matter of opinion, but even if you think I’m incorrect, you have to admit the comfort level is toward the top. If you have been there, then you already know this. Therefore, you might be wondering why I’m advising that you DO NOT play at the Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room. There is a simple reason.

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room

This poker room used to be all digital. Now it’s all live poker. With live poker and no competition anywhere around, Harrah’s Cherokee had the brilliant idea of charging a a rake of 10% with a $7 max. This includes the $1/$2 No Limit Game. What really stands out is that there is no High Hand or Bad Beat Jackpot. But don’t get excited if they add one or the other because they will take another dollar out of the pot.

I have spoken to many people in the area about this, and most of them have stopped going to play cash games at Harrah’s Cherokee because they feel like they’re being ripped off. Many of these players are now playing in local games. They prefer a $4 max rake and not having to make the lengthy trek. I have also stopped playing cash games at the Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room because of the rake. However, there are exceptions to this rule, at least for me.

Cash Game Exceptions

I try to get to Harrah’s Cherokee every time the WSOP Circuit shows up, which is in April, August, and November. I’m playing tournaments most of the time during these stays, but there are certainly days where I wake up early and have the itch to play a cash game.

I don’t mind these cash games at all despite the $7 rake, but that’s only because the WSOP brings in a lot of tourists and locals who stay for a few nights. Many of these people will drink and play through the night. Therefore, whether I hit the tables late at night or wake up early after seven hours of sleep and head over to the poker room, I have a huge advantage over my opponents. You will too. It doesn’t matter how skilled someone is at the game. If they’re exhausted and/or drunk, they’re not going to be capable of playing well. They might get very lucky, but even if they do, it’s only a matter of time before they lose those chips.

Rake Problems

The rake is out of control in the poker world right now, and it’s hurting the game. Greed always ends up killing a business, and it’s already happening at Harrah’s Cherokee. Fortunately for them, there is enough demand from Atlanta, Charlotte, Knoxville, Asheville, and other surrounding areas to make up for the lost traffic during non-WSOP times. Management also made a wise decision by adding more tournaments, but the fees are 20%-22%, so I don’t go out there for those much anymore either.

I recently played at Tampa Hard Rock and mentioned the Harrah’s Cherokee rake to a few people. They were outright stunned, and they though I was nuts for even stepping foot in the place. The dealer said to me, “We’ll be seeing you really soon.” This meant that I should be playing at the Tampa Hard Rock poker room instead. I would, but I don’t live anywhere near Tampa.


Unless Harrah’s Cherokee lowers its rake to 10% with a $5 max, you might want to consider going elsewhere. Some people advise that you should ignore the rake. These people might be decent poker players, but they’re not savvy poker players. Very few people will understand what I mean by that comment. If you want to guarantee profits in the poker industry, then you need to shift your thinking and take a business-minded approach to the industry. That will be a topic for another time. For now, steer clear of poker games with a $7 max rake.

Tyler Nals

If you love poker, then you're in the right place. My poker strategy books are written for the beginner-intermediate player, and many readers have told me that these strategies have helped them turn a profit. My books are easy to understand and written from a macro perspective on how to win as a poker player. You will also find an entertainment angle. Regardless of what level poker player you are, you might enjoy A Fishy Poker Tournament, The Dark Side of the Felt, and The Poker Office. These are poker adventure books, not poker strategy books.

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