PokerStars Increase Tournament Rake Overnight!

5 years ago
PokerStars Increase Tournament Rake Overnight!
21 Mar

One of the first things Amaya did when they bought out PokerStars in 2014 was break Daniel Negreanu’s logic circuits by upping the websites rake and then having him try and sell it as good for poker. And he’s been put in increasingly uncomfortable positions by his corporate leash holders ever since.

Unsurprisingly, controversy spinner Doug Polk had a field day with this, in particular the video back in 2016 where Daniel Negreanu suggested that high raked cash games meant weak players lost less.


With his usual rock-bottom sense of class Polk whipped up a storm by largely ignoring the nuance in Daniel’s arguments, which though a bit creaky did bear serious engagement.

And so the story has gone intermittently for years:

More recent developments might be harder for Negreanu to justify.

Here We Go Again

Yesterday, just a few days after Daniel Negreanu was raving on Twitter about new rake-free cash games being great for the game, PokerStars dropped an announcement quietly onto their blog stating that:

“Starting Monday, March 26, the following changes will be made to our MTT fees:
- Fees are increasing in MTT with a buy-in less than $20

While I’m sure no one was looking at their ROI in the micros and thinking, ‘what I need is a small haircut from making minimum wage on the grind,’ there is no doubt some sort of business justification for the raise. Of course, they explain in admirable weasel-ese:

Pricing is a key commercial consideration for every business and we will increasingly use a dynamic pricing model that gives the greatest flexibility to respond to market dynamics [...] The changes we make to our pricing are based upon various factors including customer behaviour, commercial and promotional considerations, and the overall long term sustainable health of the ecosystem.”

The Response

Unsurprisingly the poker world has responded with a deluge of jaded sarcasm. The 2+2 discussion on this reads less like angry activists than a frustrated teenage webchat, and Twitter is almost wholly made up of responses like this:

What is perhaps most galling about the rake increases, which PokerStars are already doing their best not to raise too much discussion about is that the lobby will be changing to make the rake hidden. Instead of listing price and rake in the main lobby you will have to click into a tourney to know how much you are being bilked for:

“Tournament fees can be found:
  • On desktop clients, open the tournament lobby, click on the 'Structure' tab, and look in the 'Tournament Information' section.
  • On mobile clients, click 'Lobby' at the bottom of the app, then 'Show Games' after selecting your search criteria, then simply tap a tournament.”

Clearly, PokerStars was hoping to railroad it through on the DL. We’d quite like to hear you make some noise about it in the comments.

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Jon is a freelance writer and novelist who learned to play poker after watching Rounders in year 9. He has been giving away his beer money at cards ever since. Currently he is based in Bristol where he makes sporadic donations to the occasional live tournament or drunken late night Zoom session. He ...Read more


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