PokerStars Raises the Rake
In what has been a very busy month for PokerStars Public Relations team, another announcement has hit the poker forums from PokerStars. This time it was “PokerStars Steve” who announced on 2+2 that the rake structure was going to be changed for some cash games, Hyper Turbo Sit & Gos and the new Spin & Go format is also undergoing a change.
The post was made just before 3pm UK/Isle of Man time yesterday (29th of October), and outlined the changes below:
Battle of the Planets:
As of the 1st of November this long standing, and very popular, leaderboard will come to an end.
Hyper-Turbo Sit & Gos:
Also on the 1st of November, Heads up Hyper-Turbo Sit & Gos will have their rake structure changed, while the total buy in for the games remains the same. The $1.50 games will now have a rake of $0.07 rather than the $0.06 it was before this change. A $1,000 Heads Up Hyper-Turbo will now be raked $13.42 rather than the $11.17 it was previously. While this new rake structure is still keeping the rake a small part of the buy in (around 4.7% of the outlay in the case of the $1.50 games and 1.3% in the case of the $1,000 buy in events) players have been concerned by the change as these games reportedly have a small profit margin for most players given their inherent variance factor.
Sit and Go Hyper-Turbo Satellites will also be impacted by this change of policy. As of the 1st of January, these games will be raked at 75% of the equivalent rake of cash prize hyper sit & gos.
This is the part of the announcement that is causing most of the dissatisfaction with the regular player pool. Those playing heads up pot limit or no limit games at $25/$50 or higher, will see the cap per hand jump from $0.50 to $2. Those playing below that will see the rake cap per hand rise from $0.50 to $1.
Also at the higher stakes of $25/$50 and higher, any game dealt to five or players will see the rake cap rise from $3 to £5.
As of the 1st of January 2015, rebuy tournaments are also seeing a change for those in some regulated markets. Players using PokerStars.be, PokerStars.dk, PokerStars.uk and PokerStars.bg among others, will see the same rake as the initial buy in on all rebuys and addons taken during a tournament. This is apparently due to local taxes/duties and a full list of countries affected is going to be published soon.
Spin & Go:
The recently released, and highly controversial, Spin and Go format is also being tweaked. The top level of 1,000 times the buy in pool for these games is being updated to 3,000 times the buy in pool. This raises the maximum prize pool from $36,000 to $108,000, and the distribution of the prizes has been altered to take this change into consideration. The rake has also been updated for these games, with every stake above the entry $3 seeing an increase of at least 1% of the prizepool. This change takes effect as of the 3rd of November.
Scheduled Multi Table Tournaments:
As of Monday (3rd of November), all forms of knockout event (but not progressive super knockouts) will have their rake structure changed to the equivalent of non-knockout events.
As of the 1st of January, scheduled hyper-turbo events will have their rake changed from 2% to a rate that is equivalent to 50% of the rake charged for cash prize hyper-turbo sit & gos.
The changes come on the back of other announcements made by PokerStars about changes of currency exchange fees, withdrawing from around 30 grey markets, closing affiliate accounts and the introduction of the Spin & Go format. The previous announcements have not been popular, and yesterday’s announcement has only seen the hostility from the community grow. With such a short time between this announcement and the implementation of these changes, players have been voicing tier opinions on social media, with large discussions going back and forth between groups of players, fans and those of us media types. One player who wasn’t lamenting as hard as some of the others was 2011’s EPT Sanremo winner Rupert Elder. He tweeted a picture that seems to show PokerStars isn’t out of touch with the industry with these new rake changes. According to Rupert’s information, the new rake structure is still better or the same as the competition in most situations, and is only beaten by 888 for games at $25/$50 with 5 or more players.
Alright I checked. Stars is gonna be just fine. pic.twitter.com/BwneRSvSsH
— Rupert Elder (@ruperte) October 30, 2014
With the player reaction being largely negative, with some players saying that the changes have effectively made some forms of the game unprofitable, this is a big move for the new owners of the online poker giant. The fallout is already snowballing, with players trying to organise protests through social media and the forums. The 2013 EPT Grand Final Champion, and well known player Steve O’Dwyer, tweeted what is becoming the player sentiment of the day, and is being retweeted by a lot of players in a similar situation. We’ll have to wait to see how true it turn out to be.
— steveodwyer (@steveodwyer) October 30, 2014