PokerStars Announces an Increase in the Rake on Most Games

Chris Mercier, Jennifer Shahade, Chris Moneymaker, and other Team PokerStars members helped promote the launch.

Serious poker players are likely to notice the changes, but the mass market is likely to accept the price increases.

Monday was the official launch for PokerStars in the New Jersey regulated online poker market. New Jersey gamblers who’ve been waiting to gamble legally on PokerStars might have a surprise: higher prices. PokerStars announced this week that it plans to raise the rake on certain cross-platform poker games. Many of those games are likely to attract American poker players.

Eric Hollreiser, the Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya Gaming and PokerStars, announced the price hike a recent article on the PokerStars corporate blog. Gamblers wanting to know about the rake increases should go to the March 21st entry, Hollreiser’s article was titled “PokerStars Announces Revised Pricing”. The rate increases are expected to take effect on March 28.

Expect Complaints from Elite Players

The changes likely are to be met with derision and scorn from the serious poker players on PokerStars. Like other negative changes over the years, though, most gamblers on the site are not likely to notice the increased fees. An online poker room’s rake is constant and subtle, so it is hardly noticed when a player is focusing upon their strategy, their opponent’s tendencies, and (often) what just happened.

Comparisons to Other Sites

Amaya Gaming justified the raise in price several different ways. First, they mentioned that the rake increases still leave PokerStars far better than the competition. One of the reasons PokerStars became the number one poker site was its low rake. If it continues to be the best among the trustworthy sites for card players, then the rake is both justified and harmless to their player signup rate.

Hollreiser discussed the dynamics of industry-wide rake increases in his article. In a combination of legalistic and promotional jargon, he wrote PokerStars decided to make the changes after a “review of the current business environment and the pricing policies employed across the competitive landscape for online gaming.

Details of the Fee Hike

Spin & Go games ranging between $1 and $30 are going to see a 1% increase in rake. That will apply to all games on the shared liquidity market, except for one: $3 buy-in games.

In the $3 buy-in games, the raise is going to be 2%. This is one of the most popular card-playing options on PokerStars, so it should net the company a windfall. Multi-table tournaments will see an increase to its add-ons and rebuys, mimicking what occurs at the moment in closed liquidity games. The MTT hyper-turbo games are going to see an increase all the way up to 5%.

Affects No Limit Cash Games

In the cash game or ring game section of PokerStars, the cap and percentage rake is going to increase in certain games, but not all. Limit and Pot-Limit games will see no change. No-Limit games will see some increase. Some rake caps will be lowered.

Once again, games which appeal to mass market players are likely to see a raise, while games which attract niche players and experts are less likely to be affected. No doubt, those changes were considered for maximum effectiveness, coupled with the least blowback from the player community.

PokerStars’ PR Campaign

PokerStars is taking a cautious approach this time, because the last time they proposed changes to the rake, it was a public relations and player relations disaster. In October 2014, a few months after Amaya Gaming bought PokerStars and FullTilt Poker for $4.9 billion, the site proposed changes. This led to player protests and criticism from professional card players. PokerStars eventually reversed its decision, except on Spin-n-Go events. The site promised not to make any changes in 2015. Those who follow such things knew to expect wholesale changes early in 2016.

This time, Eric Hollreiser’s proposed changes came with statistics to prove PokerStars is still the best deal in the card playing community. PokerStars statisticians took numbers from January 8, 2016 to March 7, 2016, then factored in the changes to their models. With graphs and charts, PokerStars showed that players on their site still receive lower prices than they do on chief competitors’ online card rooms.