Biggest Poker Network PokerStars To Increase Rake
It’s just been announced in the PokerStars blog that the network will be increasing the rake as of March 28th. Certain tournaments will see their rakes double while others will increase even more than that. This ‘revised pricing’ as the network themselves called it is a move that can be seen as a way to discourage high-rolling grinders and give recreational players a fairer game experience.
One would think that the news of PokerStars’ New Jersey soft launch would hog all the limelight this week, yet this largest poker network in the world have beat themselves to the top news bulletins. On the corporate PokerStars blog, it was announced that March 28th will be the day when the site will finally increase the rake for many games, something that was long coming.
Times are changing
Let’s be fair – PokerStars’ players have long enjoyed some of the lowest rake rates around and given the fact that PokerStars is the largest network of online poker, the increases come as little surprise. Perhaps it was timed to coincide with the successful launch in the USA to soften the blow of the increasing fees, but it would have happened sooner or later for sure.
While most games will be affected, recreational and casual players are unlikely to notice anything different in the way they play poker. the hardest hit group of players will be the high rollers, which have already suffered at the hand of PokerStars when their VIP benefits were radically slashed from the beginning of this year. Now, it seems that the network is prepared to take one step further in levelling the playing field in online poker.PokerStars’ Eric Hollreiser wrote: “following a review of the current business envionment and the pricing policies employed across the competitive landscape for online gaming, PokerStars will change its pricing for a select number of games in its shared liquidity market.” However, he was also quick to point out that even after the hike in the rake, PokerStars will have the lowest rake rates when compared to PartyPoker (7% more expensive), 888Poker (16% more expensive) and iPoker (19% more expensive).
Which games are affected?
As we’ve mentioned, next Monday (March 28) marks the date that the changes will be applied to regulated shared-liquidity rooms not only in Great Britain, but also other markets such as Denmark, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Belgium.
Yet which games are affected in particular? Well, Spin & Gos, multi-table tourneys (MTTs) and Heads Up cash games to sum it all up:
- Spin & Go rake rates will increase by 1% for buy-ins of $1 to $30 (but 2% in $3 buy-in); rake for $0.25, $60 and $100 buy-ins will remain the same
- MTT hyper-turbo rake will increase by 5%
- Heads Up cash games will experience both cap and percentage of rake increases in pot-limit and no-limit; limit games won’t be affected
- Re-buys and add-ons will be raked now
The rake increase in long-term perspective
Overall, the rake increase all comes to a total of 4%, but the network said they will keep a close eye on the market and will continue making changes and adjustments to its pricing to remain competitive in the market. We guess we don’t need to spell out exactly what this means. Especially since they’ve boasted about having the lowest rates even after the increase, it leaves them plenty of room for further increases.
So, what does this all mean in the bigger, long-term perspective? In a nutshell, PokerStars will continue moving towards catering for casual players and slowly pushing the high-rolling grinders, decreasing their profit margins even further. These changes will be none too pleasing for the high volume players, especially those with deep pockets who benefited from re-buys up until now.
However, are these changes likely to drive PokerStars out of business? We hardly think so. With the network pushing strong to attract high numbers of casual players, they will most likely replace the high rollers which abandon ship and even the bottom line out. Plus, there are slots and other games which casual players are likely to engage in – all in all an excellent business move by PokerStars.
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