Players React to PokerStars Rake Increases

Date: 2014-11-10
Author: Jason Glatzer

The world's busiest online poker site, PokerStars, recently announced rake increases across the board for tournament, sit and go, and cash game players.  As you can imagine, player reaction ranged from negative to indifferent.

To recap some of these changes, hyper-turbo tournaments have become more expensive, with the rake increasing from 2% to 5% depending on stakes.  PokerStars also increased the rake on knockout tournaments.  Previously, the site was not charging rake on the knockout portion of the tournament entry.  Now, the rake on these tournaments is the same charged on regular tournaments at a similar buy-in.

While these are the only immediate changes for tournament players, starting on January 1, 2015, PokerStars plans to charge rake on each rebuy and add-on for players in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Ring game players are now paying more rake when playing heads-up, with the cap now $2 on higher limits and $1 on lower limits.  High-stakes ring game players will also experience a higher rake cap of $5 when there are five or more players.

Sit and go players may feel the greatest pinch to their wallets. Hyper turbo heads-up sit and gos now have a higher rake for all limits.  Also, hyper-turbo satellite sit and gos are now charged a rake closer to the amount charged for non-satellite games.

The popular Battle of the Planets sit and go leaderboard has been terminated, eliminating some benefits to hardcore grinders.  This isn't the only benefit reduction planned, as PokerStars plans to reduce the VIP program starting in 2015.

Professional European football player and poker enthusiast Derek Decamps expressed his disappointment to PokerSoftware, saying, "I was very surprised and think PokerStars is taking a new direction that is definitely not favorable to online poker."

Recent interviewee Kyle "squire1888" Maguire, a professional poker player in Scotland, isn't taking the news as hard as other players, although will be adjusting the games he plans to play: "I'm pretty indifferent about it, as I mostly grind MTTs, and other than rebuy and hyper tournaments, I am not really affected.  Although I don't think it will affect MTTers hugely, SNG grinders are taking a hit, with satellite grinders, hyper SNE grinders, and heads-up grinders taking the worst of it.  Looking back at things now, I wish Amaya never purchased PokerStars."

Run it Once head Phil Galfond expressed his concern to PokerNews about these changes and what might be in line in the future: "It's important to understand that PokerStars is a business and that they can charge whatever they please for their service.  I don't like the changes thus far and, more than that, I fear for what's to come if this is an indication of Amaya's business strategy.  They have a monopoly and if they want to press it, they don't have any obvious incentive not to at the moment. The lack of a legitimate competitor is the major issue here."

Poker coach and professional poker player Alex "Assassinato" Fitzgerald plans to play more elsewhere after these changes: "They are banking on the fact they are the only company to offer their range of services and their caliber of software.  It is up to us to enable other companies to give us better terms.  I, for one, will no longer play a regular schedule there.  The smaller sites have always had weaker competition and now they will have better rake rates.  It's our job as professionals to pay less in fees and make more when we do play.  Everybody needs to stop caring about point leaderboards and pick up the gauntlet."

Visit PokerStars for details.

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