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On a day brimming with excitement over PokerStars’ return to the U.S. market via a full real money launch in New Jersey, rest-of-world players are likely not sharing in the elation after PokerStars dot-com announced a rake increase for select games.

The hike in rake was deemed necessary by the industry’s market leader after studying the vig percentages of some of its top competitors such as 888poker, Partypoker and the iPoker Network. The rake increase is pegged at about 4% across the board, but the company’s VP of Corporate Communications, Eric Hollreiser, pointed out that “PokerStars will still have the lowest overall pricing of any major online poker operator.”

Main Revisions

  • Spin & Go players at buy-ins of $1 to $30 will pay one percentage point more in rake, except for the $3 buy-in games which will be boosted two percentage points. Untouched is the rake at buy-in levels of $0.25, $60 and $100.
  • Multi-table tournaments that feature rebuy and add-on options will see rake attached to the R/As in proportion to the fee of the original buy-in. This has been standard practice at PokerStars’ ring-fenced offerings. Re-buy and add-on tournaments currently make up about 12% of PokerStars’ MTT schedule.
  • Rake in hyper-turbo MTTs will jump 5%.
  • Cash game players in select no limit and pot limit games – mainly at heads-up tables – will see an as yet unspecified increase in the cap and percentage of rake. Some rake caps will actually be lowered.
  • Fixed limit ring game players will experience NO change to the rake structure at this time.

Still the Best Game in Town?

The changes take effect on March 28 and are the result of analyzing more than one milion hands at PokerStars’ cash game tables from January 8 through March 7 of this year. Amaya compared the data to other top poker room operators and adjusted the rake with an eye toward keeping the vigorish lower than the percentages charged elsewhere.

A chart was included in PokerStars’ official announcement that shows rake at Partypoker ring games to be 7% higher, 16% more at 888poker, and 19% greater at the iPoker Network. Those percentages come into play after the new rake structure takes effect next week.

PokerStars Pricing vs Competitors

Credit: PokerStars

“PokerStars will continue to monitor its games and make regular adjustments to pricing whenever necessary,” Hollreiser added.

Rollback Not in the Cards

Players may recall that PokerStars implemented a rake increase on November 3, 2014. Outrage from loyal players followed, which led to a rollback (except for Spin & Go games) of the rake hike on January 6, 2015. A promise of no rake increase in 2015 accompanied the rollback.

While rake was not boosted in 2015, PokerStars did announce drastic changes to the VIP program in November aimed primarily at high stakes and high volume players. The new loyalty program took effect at the beginning of 2016, resulting in a couple of ill-timed player boycotts that did nothing to change the minds of the brass in the Isle of Man.

Don’t expect a rollback on this rake increase. On behalf of PokerStars in January 2015, Hollreiser stated, “We continue to pride ourselves on offering what we believe to be the best online poker experience at the lowest price.”

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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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