PokerStars has raised the rake by 4% on their ROW players. This has stirred up a new wave of controversy and complaints that PokerStars is just looking to pad their pockets rather than “serve their players.”
Looking at the potential rake changes and listening to players talk; it seems that a lot of people are feeling entitled to making money from PokerStars despite the fact they are not employed by the company. Also, these rake hikes are going to largely go unnoticed or they will have a very minimal impact to the average recreational player – the type of players that PokerStars has made a fundamental shift towards serving.
How Much Are We Talking in Dollars and Cents?
What does the new rake structure equate to in terms of dollars and cents? For the majority of players, we are talking pennies on the dollar – four cents on the dollar to be exact. In a lot of cases, you might be talking a raise of a penny or two for each game or hand that you play.
This is how your average person is going to look at the rake hikes, and I will use Spin & Go tournaments as an example. Most low stake events are going up 1% with the exception of $3 events which are going up 2%.
For a $1 Spin & Go, what is the actual cost of the rake increase? One penny. Instead of .08, you will now pay .09 to play a $1 Spin & Go. For $3 Spin & Go events, you will pay .10 instead of .08.
You were paying $1.08 for a shot to win $10,000, but now you have to pay $1.09. I can really see those players running for the doors.
Even if you played 10 of those in a day, that’s a whole dime you just had to pay out in extra rake. Oh lord, the new rake changes are going to break the bank for that recreational player.
I know, some of you are saying “Ok smartass, but what about the higher buy-ins.” Well, for $7 Spin & Go tournaments you’ll pay an extra .07 per game hoping to hit that $70,000 prize pool. For $15 you will pay .15 extra chasing $150,000 and at $30 you will pay an extra .30 to chase $300,000.
Prices Go Up on Everything Else – Why Should Poker Be Different?
What blows my mind on this rake change is how they are demonizing PokerStars for doing the same thing that every other business in the world does on a regular basis. Over time, the price on everything goes up. Shimi Weiss made an excellent comparison on the Weekly Burn & Turn talking about how tolls regularly went up on a bridge in New Jersey. If you didn’t want to pay the toll, you had an alternative.
But I wonder how many of these people that are protesting PokerStars’ rake hikes are protesting other hikes in their life. If the cost of your favorite beer goes up 5 cents a bottle, are you going to quit drinking that beer or are you going to continue buying the same product. Those of you that like to eat out a lot. When your favorite restaurant raises the cost of your favorite meal by .50 or $1, are you going to quit eating there or just absorb the price?
I can hear it now – That’s not the same! Yes, it is. For a majority of players, these rake changes mean pennies on the dollar. Does it add up? Sure it does, but no more than anything else in life.
It simply boils down to whether the PokerStars product at 4% higher rake is worth playing to the average player. Many will not notice nor will they care. For those that this is a major burden, there are other sites out there to play on.
The Entitlement Generation Spouting Off
Something that has stuck out like a sore thumb dating back to the VIP changes at PokerStars is this uproar about how that it is harder to make a living playing on PokerStars after all these changes. Even Robbie Strazynski brought up this point on last week’s Burn & Turn.
Since when did it become PokerStars or any other online sites responsibility to employ poker players? There seems to be this entitlement going around that PokerStars owes something to pros and those that are making a living on the site and that the company is evil for wanting to make more money.
Online poker pros are using poker rooms as a tool to keep themselves gainfully employed. That is something that the players are choosing to do, not the online poker rooms. The objective of any poker room is to make money, and that is it. It is great if they cater to pros but at the end of the day the pros are using the company to make money.
They are not employees of PokerStars. They are not contractors of PokerStars. They are customers who are using the PokerStars product to make money.
I’ve been self employed since 2002. At one point, I ran an online data collection business. When my clients decided to buy from an India company that could sell data cheaper than I could collect it, I had to go elsewhere.
Even when I showed the company that my product was superior and that I could generate more sales with my data, the fact remained that they could save more money going with the Indian provider than they could make from the extra sales my data could generate.
PokerStars has decided to focus on making money from recreational players and cut back on benefits to high volume players. They have no obligation to employ pro players nor should pro players have an expectation of employment from PokerStars. Your business landscape is shifting, so it is time to either adapt to the new playing field or find another way to make your money.