PokerStars Raises The Price

4 years ago
Pokerstars Announces Rake Increases
26 Mar

A brand new boycott, tons of Internet flaming and yes, even Daniel Negreanus very own “How is he going to respond” thread. And in case you’re wondering what the heck is going on, well the poker community is steaming again, following a PokerStars Corporate Blog that added more fuel to the fire. No, Supernova isn’t dead quite yet and neither are the VIP levels. This time it's the rake that is going to be ‘revised’. And if you've been following recent events, it’s not that hard to figure out what ‘revised’ means.

4% Rake Increase Overall

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it certainly means an increase. Just three days ago, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya and PokerStars, Eric Hollreiser, announced a new rake increase following a "review of the current business environment and the pricing policies employed across the competitive landscape for online gaming."

But didn’t they increase the rake once late last year? Indeed they did! But let’s not forget though that it’s a new year and operating in New Jersey can be quite expensive. And if you add the latest problems like Amaya’s stock's downtrend or CEO David Baazov being charged with insider trading, then you might very well find good reasons for Amaya’s new policy. What policy would that be, you’re wondering? No, it's not the whole 'protecting the recreational players' thing, but the all new leveling the costs of playing online poker to be in line with the competition.

From March 28, 2016, they will make a new step towards that goal by raking the rebuys and add-ons in any given PokerStars tournament. If you play an $10 rebuy MTT, you’ll pay rake for every $10 rebuy registered and also for your $10 add-on. Pretty nice right?

And it’s not even it. The Spin & Go’s rake will also be increased by 1%; the affected tourneys range from $1 to $30, with the note that the $3 Spin & Go’s will actually cost 2% more. And if you also play hypers MTTs, be prepared for even more rake, 5% more to be exact.

Relieved to be a cash player? Not so fast, PokerStars is about to work its magic by increasing some of the rake caps and rake percentages in the No Limit and Pot Limit games.

Overall, Mr. Hollreiser said in his blog that the impact will be a rake increase of 4%. For the future, the poker room ‘will continue to monitor its games and make regular adjustments to pricing whenever necessary.’

Nervous anyone?

Lowest Overall Pricing?

Of course the vice president had to add (for good measure) that in spite of the rake increase, PokerStars will still have ‘the lowest overall pricing’ or as we all know it." He even shared with the rest of us a very interesting chart in which he compares PokerStars’ rake at the ring games with the competition, NLHE and PLO only.

So that means PS is still king right? Well, to quote from a very famous movie "it depends on the view." Of course, Amaya showed only the charts that give the rooms an edge over the competition, but luckily the community on the 2+2 forums and surprisingly Daniel Negreanu shed some light on this particular matter.

For example, Unibet - the gaming company that constantly brags about having the lowest price in the online poker market - shared what PokerStars left out. It makes for another interesting chart; these are based on the play at the cash tables.

If we want to analyze solely the pricing of the Heads-up Cash games, then we would come up with a chart like this (thanks to Daniel’s blog):

Or check the Microgaming Poker Network rake cap:

And if we compare all those numbers with PS, then Amaya shouldn’t be that confident in terms of competitiveness. Don;t forget that one of these charts is in Pounds and one is in American Dollars.

And about the rebuy and add-on rake, well this chart below doesn’t look that good at all from Amaya’s perspective (again thanks to Daniel Negreanu’s blog):

So how about those lowest prices on the market, Mr. Hollreiser?

Daniel Negreanu’s Take: If You Don’t Like It, Move On!

And since we mentioned Daniel, let’s see what he had to say about this matter. Sure, things didn’t start out well at all for him when he tweeted:

Pretty common for public companies with stockholders to raise prices. Not sure what more to be said about it?"

The next day, however, he wrote a blog in which he expressed his extensive opinion on the rake increase. He admitted the heads-up cash games and the rebuy tourneys are indeed higher than their competitors but still believes PokerStars offers ‘the best product from customer service, to software, to game selection and innovation.’

The company is also entitled to raise its prices whenever it considers necessary, and he finished his post by talking about a high raked poker game in Toronto where he used to play. KidPoker said:

When the time came where the game just wasn't good enough to beat the rake anymore, I moved on and found a different game to play in."

Hear that online grinders?

Community’s Take: More Boycotts and Internet Flaming

As expected, the poker community and the online grinders who should move on weren’t pleased at all, and now they are planning yet another PokerStars boycott. Not that the previous one - between January 1 and 7, 2016 - had any visible effects. Of course, many already expressed their disbelief in repeating such an action and some came up with other ideas including: massively cashing out the regulars’ bankrolls from the site and forming a union that would protect the poker players’ rights.

Unfortunately - maybe because of the weak competition PS is currently facing - few see Daniel’s advice as a real option. Yes, the moves are clearly intended to eliminate some portion of the PS grinders - especially the Heads-up Cash regulars, yet this doesn’t mean that other players won't get caught in the blast. By far, the best way to boycott PokerStars is to stop playing there, and consider playing on other sites OR move to other, more profitable games. Isn’t that the most obvious choice of them all?

What do you think? How do you see the latest rake increase? And how can the poker community make its voice heard? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment in the section bel

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Florian is a freelance journalist and avid poker player with a strong passion to create unique and appealing stories.He is an experienced researcher on various topics, from business and the financial markets to psychology and the gambling industry.He blogs at more


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