PokerStars recently revealed what seemed to be a bad Doctor Who joke when they announced that they have eliminated low stake from PokerStars Belgium. Oh, wait…we made a mistake. From reports, PokerStars has removed these games and didn’t bother to tell their players.
According to reports, players logged into the Belgian site PokerStars.Be found that all .01/.02 games have been removed. Upon contacting support, players were told that the games were removed on June 15 on a trail basis.
Low Stake Games Have a Whole the Exact Size of Belgium
Imagine you’re a low stakes grinder in a live casino and regularly playing $2-$4 Limit Hold’em, $1 to $5 Stud or another game and suddenly the casino decides that the lowest game they will offer is $3-$6 Hold’em and $5-$10 Stud.
That’s exactly what has happened to Belgian players. The .01/.02 games have been removed, leaving the lowest games as .02/.05. Some of you might think, “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that the price of poker has significant gone up for low stake players in Belgium.
Let’s take a quick look. First, at .01/.02, the minimum buy-in is between .20 and .40 with a max of $2. The rake is 3.50% with a .30 max per pot. When you move up to .02/.05, the minimum buy-in is .40 to .80 with a max of $5. However, the rake really jumps. Each pot is raked at 4.15% with a max of $1. That’s 3.33 times that of .01/.02.
Let’s assume that the max rake is taken each hand for 10 hands at both levels. At .01/.02, that’s $3 that’s being taken out of the game. At .02/.05, that $10 over 10 hands, or two full buy-ins.
Writer’s Note: For those of you not Doctor Who fans, this section’s headline references a scene in the “Time Crash” Doctor Who Children in Need special. In other words, watch more Doctor Who.
What Will This Mean for the Rest of the World?
While this change by PokerStars presently only impacts Belgium players, it’s not out of line to assume this is coming to a PokerStars near you in the future. Sadly, I cannot see how this can benefit recreational players.
If they decide to replicate this to PokerStars ROW, it will be viewed and rightly so nothing but a money grab by forcing players to move up to higher stakes with higher rake. At the same time, this move could have a truly detrimental impact due to the sheer number of players that frequent these games.
I did some quick counting and at the time this article was written, there were at least 280 tables running .01/.02 NL Hold’em along with 850 users playing .01/.02 NL Zoom. In the past, I stated that many players would not care about certain rake hikes because they didn’t pay attention to those sorts of things.
However, they do pay attention when the games they have been frequenting are completely eliminated and it now costs them more money to play poker even before the first pot is raked.
For those of you claiming that someone at .02/.05 can buy-in for the same as they did at .01/.02, you know damn well they are buying in short and most will be unable to competently compete.
Yet Another Unannounced Change By PokerStars
I know Daniel Negreanu and company just love representing a company that refuses to tell their players in advance about significant changes to the site. From the information being circulated, this wasn’t a “poorly communicated” change but rather one that PokerStars decided to spring on their users without warning.
The players on PokerStars are still customers and do deserve at least fair warning that such a monumental change was coming. When the rake changes were made last year, there was at least some warning that they would be enacted despite the fact that the company went a bit overboard with said changes.
This time, we see no evidence that players were communicated with in any fashion. They didn’t receive an email; there were no popup boxes in the software or press releases from the company about such a change.
PokerStars loves to send press releases about promotions, Neymar Jr., or the latest flavor of the months online pro. However, when it comes to taking away games that their players enjoy, not a peep.
This is the latest in a recent line of changes that have negatively impacted PokerStars’ reputation. Will they address the recent criticism or will they merely distract users with another Million Dollar Freeroll or similar “promotion.”