The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) will change its overall rake structure on October 21, in a move it says is designed to lower the overall rake paid by micro-stakes players.
Alex Scott, Head of Poker at MPN, stated in late September in an article entitled “Parasites and Rake” that he believes the changes will result in the cheapest micro-stakes games on the internet.
He also states in the article that the rake restructuring is being rolled out as a complement to other efforts already being made by the network to combat data-mining and seating scripts.
Overall, it appears MPN believes there is room to use a completely different model and improve the ecology of its games for recreational players.
However, it remains to be seen if doing so will work enough to capture marketshare from PokerStars.
Rake “Cap” Lowered
At first glance, the new MPN rake structure seems pretty standard. There is a 5% rake applied across the board to all of its limits; there is also a “cap” on the amount of rake charged “depending on the number of players dealt in and the stakes being played.”
What’s different, is where the rake cap is set. Most online poker networks will cap the rake at somewhere between 10-20 big blinds per pot at the micro-stakes. MPN’s cap will be set much lower.
Games with 5 or more players dealt in will be capped at 3 big blinds; the cap goes down to 1 big blind for head’s up play.
Rake “Rounded Down”
In addition to the cap being lowered, pots that are in-between thresholds for additional rake to be taken will be raked at the lower of the two:
“Note: Out system collects €0.01 in rake for every €0.20 in the pot. This means that for a pot of €0.39 only €0.01 is collected in rake.”
Rake Changes Are In Tandem With Moves Against “Parasitic Players”
MPN already made drastic changes to its policies earlier this month when it began allowing players to change their table aliases.
Scott stated in his letter that the new policy is designed to combat what he calls “parasitic players”:
“Parasitic players like to target the weakest opponents exclusively, and to extract as much money as possible in as short a time as possible…[they] are the leeches who purchase data mined hands, who use seating scripts to sit with the weakest players exclusively, who stall on the bubble of tournaments.”
MPN Claims Revenue Growth Already Being Seen
Scott states that “rake can have a major impact on players’ win rates,” and implies that MPN hopes the rake changes will have the effect of new player’s sticking around longer.
And despite the newness of the experiment, Scott claims that the changes are already working, stating that MPN is “one of only a few networks which is growing, year on year, both in revenue and player numbers.”
Will The Gamble On A New Model Work?
It’s too early to tell if MPN has hit on a winning formula to grow its network, or if its numbers will plateau at a certain point. The ultimate result will depend on whether this new direction can attract new players (and keep them playing) more over the long term.
It’s encouraging to hear an online poker network take the effect that rake has on its micro-stakes ecology seriously. The topic is too often ignored by rooms who themselves put short-term profits over the long-term health of their ecosystem. Changes that attempt to give new players an opportunity to stick around and eventually move up should be welcomed by everyone in the industry.
And after years of feeling as if other online poker networks were simply conceding the industry to PokerStars, it’s nice to see a moribund competition beginning to show some signs of life.