A new round of PokerStars rake hikes were announced by the world’s largest poker site recently. Moving forward, micro-and-small stakes Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs) with buy-ins below $20 will cost players on the PokerStars dot-com platform and extra 20% in commission fees.
In an official blog communication, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Séverin Rasset justified the latest PokerStars rake increases through the need for “maximum flexibility and agility” as the online gambling conglomerate faces regulatory challenges in various jurisdictions throughout the world.
Old Pricing Structure: $11 MTT = $10 prize pool buy-in + $1 rake (10% rake)
Flexible & Agile Pricing Structure: $11 MTT = $9.80 prize pool buy-in + $1.20 rake (12.24% rake)
The price adjustments reflect The Stars Group‘s ongoing commitment to charging online poker players higher fees to enjoy traditional, competitive forms of real money poker on the internet.
The increases also mean that PokerStars’ popular low-stakes MTT games have become significantly more expensive than similar tournaments made available by competitors Partypoker and 888 Poker, which continue to offer $10+$1 rates for comparable online events.
Joey Ingram Explains PokerStars Rake Hike
“They’ve decided to protect the recreational player even further,” Ingram told his audience — a sarcastic reference to past rake increases and/or rewards reductions that the company has presented as measures to protect casual players from online poker professionals.
Ingram, a live poker commentary talent who enjoys playing The Great Game of Pot Limit Omaha, called-out sponsored PokerStars live streamers who promote the site for not providing their respective audiences with sufficient notice of the changes.
“If you’re out there wondering why have you not heard about this, I think that’s a great question,” offered the former American Poker Awards Podcast of the Year trophy recipient. “I have not seen any of the ‘influencers’ on PokerStars talk about this yet publicly.”
Joey Ingram would go on to say, “I don’t know if they’re sending out messages to people letting them know about this rake increase. Maybe they just don’t think people care, right? I think the only thing I’ve heard is Daniel Negreanu laughing about it on Poker After Dark.”
John Duthie Exposes PokerStars Massage Rake
In a separate Twitter communication by The Stars Group VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser, it was confirmed that the world’s largest poker site extracts additional value from massage therapists who labor at sponsored European Poker Tour events.
The news was brought to light by EPT founder and former PokerStars executive John Duthie, who now represents the rival Partypoker LIVE event brand as its president.
C’mon John, you were at Stars when the contract was done and know full well we don’t take 50% or anything close
— Eric Hollreiser (@erichollreiser) March 18, 2018
PokerStars did not reveal the precise amount it charges contracted talent for the privilege of working on behalf of poker players who attend EPT tournaments.
You should not be taking a penny!!!
— John Duthie (@JohnnyDuthie) March 19, 2018
Followers of Joey Ingram’s Twitter account were quick to pick up on the irony of the world’s largest poker site continuing to justify more expensive fees as a means to “protect” those who choose to participate in official sponsored events through their poker play or labor.
It's better for the masseuse to make less, it protects them from retirement
— Ryne Rindfleisch PMP (@RynePMP) March 20, 2018
* Read more about TSG Massage Therapist Vig here.
UKGC “Player Protection” Regulatory Initiatives
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released proposed revisions to online gambling licensing codes that provide stringent consumer protections for all who participate in real money online poker or casino games within that jurisdiction.
The 34-page document highlights three major points in its Executive Summary:
- Stricter controls on misleading advertising and marketing
- Promotions and bonus terms must abide by “consumer protection legislation”
- 8-week time limit for operators to resolve customer complaints and disputes
The regulatory proposals, combined with a high profile UKGC crackdown on internet gambling operators — which holds gambling sites explicitly liable for in-house along with associated talent and affiliate-generated marketing content — significantly increases protections for online gamblers in the UK.
Furthermore, existing Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines appear to define false advertising tactics, such as those employed by PokerStars (see: VIP Club Removal), as non-compliant — while also stipulating that operators must adequately communicate the terms of rewards, bonuses and related material promotions to all iGaming consumers.
Gambling sites and their affiliates are under immense pressure as a result of the new UK regulations, and must seemingly adjust to a reality in which all patrons (regardless of skill level or withdrawing tendencies) are equally considered to be “consumers” to online gambling operators.
UK restrictions on misleading advertising and marketing could be viewed as favorable regulation for both professional and casual poker players who have long borne the brunt of PokerStars chagrin related to real money, skill-based peer-to-peer gameplay that online gambling consumers are charged to participate in.
Online poker players — especially those who reside in the United Kingdom — could improve their knowledge of consumer protections by becoming familiar with official iGaming regulation/legislation literature cited above, and sharing it with those who wish to engage on the topic.
In the meantime, the new PokerStars rake increases for small stakes events will undoubtedly have a negative material effect on poker players of all skill levels who compete in those tournaments on the world’s largest poker site.
Read More Info on PokerStars Rake
PokerStars Rewards Price Hike (Jun 28, 2017)
PokerStars Partially Unveils Cashback Rewards Changes (Nov 14, 2016)
Doug Polk PokerStars Nightmare (Jul 31, 2017)
David Huber (known as “dhubermex” online) has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade. He currently assists several poker and gaming entities as a researcher, writer, and consultant. Former Editor-in-Chief & Head Moderator of online tournament rankings site PocketFives (2006-2011).