On Monday, PokerStars announced “revised pricing,” code for “rake increase” that is to go into effect next Monday, March 28th.
In a post to the PokerStars corporate blog, Eric Hollreiser, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya Inc. and PokerStars, explained that the changes come “Following a review of the current business environment and the pricing policies employed across the competitive landscape for online gaming.” Hollreiser highlighted the following “key” changes:
• Rake for Spin & Go’s will be increased one percentage point for buy-ins from $1 to $30, except for the $3 buy-in tournaments, which will have a two percentage point increase.
• Re-buys and add-ons for multi-table tournaments will be raked.
• Multi-table tournament hyper-turbo rake will be upped to five percent.
• Rake will be increased (both percentage and cap) for some No-Limit and Pot-Limit cash games, especially heads-up contests.
Hollreiser said that PokerStars estimates that the overall rake increase will be about four percent.
It appears that these are more changes being made to the poker room to push away high-volume professional grinders. These types of players typically favor NL and PL heads-up cash games and hyper turbos so that they can get as many hands in as possible. Re-buy tournaments also benefit deep pocketed players, so those are certainly the ones targeted when re-buys and add-ons are raked.
Hollreiser spun the changes as one would expect, emphasizing:
Even after these changes, PokerStars will still have the lowest overall pricing (known as “rake”) of any major online poker operator.
The pricing changes apply to certain games while others will remain unchanged. In Cash Games and Sit & Go competitions, PokerStars still has significantly lower rake than competitors.
Included in the blog post was an analysis performed using one million cash game hands this year, simulating what would happen if the rake structures of PokerStars’ main competitors were used. Hollreiser pointed out that the biggest savings compare to competitors was at stakes that had the most hands played, which is likely (and he didn’t say this, this is just my own inference) low and micro stakes. So again, if I am correct, this is another opportunity for Stars to point out how great it is being to recreational players. Hollreiser wrote:
When the rake is weighted according to the different volumes of games played at different stakes, the current rake at PartyPoker is 7% more expensive than under the new PokerStars rake. The current rake at 888 Poker is 16% more expensive than under the new PokerStars rake. The current rake at iPoker is 19% more expensive than under the new PokerStars rake.
So there it is; make if it what you will. Obviously, players in the poker community are none too pleased, but as they say, “It is what it is.” We’ll see if it has any effect on player traffic in the long-run. Probably won’t.