PokerStars Removes Low-Stakes Games in Belgium

Date: 2016-06-22
Author: Jason Glatzer

In the past year, the world's largest real money online poker room, PokerStars, has made a few moves like revamping its loyalty rewards program, moving all of its heads-up ring games to Zoom Poker, and prohibiting some advanced third-party poker software tools.
All of these moves were justified to the public by maintaining that the site wished to improve its ecosystem and make it more attractive to recreational or casual players.
More recently, PokerStars increased the rake in many of its games.  PokerStars, along with Team Pro Daniel Negreanu, at the time more or less acknowledged this wasn't to improve the ecosystem like some of its other unpopular recent decisions, but rather to increase revenue for the online gaming site.
Last week, a move was made on its dot-be client, which is only available to players in Belgium but shares liquidity with the rest of the world.  On June 15, when Belgian players logged into PokerStars, they were no longer able to play the lowest stakes ring games, as all the games at stakes of $0.01/$0.02 were removed from lobby.
Belgian TwoPlusTwo poster "kmeirlaen" was one of the first to notice these changes and shared with the poker community his response from PokerStars after emailing the site to find out more information.
This is a follow-up regarding your recent email about NL2 cash game.
We have received the following information about these games. We are sorry to inform you that this is intentional.
We are indeed trialing the removal of $/€/£2.00 no-limit as well as $/€/£ 0.01/0.02 pot-limit and no-limit games in Belgium, since June 15.
We frequently review the selection of ring games and tournaments within our lobby and monitor how that affects the overall playing experience, whether playing on smartphone, tablet or desktop. We experiment with all aspects of the game by trying out new challenges, promotions and types of poker; launching new online series, such as the [B]MicroMillions[/B]; and sponsoring live poker festivals around the world.
However, we do value your feedback and assure you it has been forwarded to the relevant team for this trial.
We apologize for the inconveniences and thank you for your understanding.

While it is noted that this is on a trial basis, this could be worrying to many that the changes, if successful to PokerStars' overall revenue stream, could be further rolled out to other jurisdictions.  While some players may choose to move to another online poker room, many sites do not offer the games PokerStars has removed for players in Belgium.  This means their choices could be limited to moving up in stakes to $0.02/$0.04 where the rake is higher, playing other games like micro-stakes Spin & Go's, or simply not playing.
Many believe that the reason for PokerStars doing this is purely to increase revenue while hoping that it doesn't have a negative impact on the ecosystem.  The $0.01/$0.02 games are raked at 3.15% up to a maximum of $0.30, while the next highest stakes $0.02/$0.04 are raked at 4.15% with a maximum of $1.

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