PokerStars Rake Increases Get the Boot, For Now

January 6th, 2015 | by Brian Corlisse
PokerStars rake increases delayed

PokerStars has rolled back many of its proposed rake increases, with the exception of the increased fees in its Spin & Go tournaments. (Image: onlinepokeracademy.com)

PokerStars rake increases will not see the light of day after all, at least not for now.

The controversial site has announced that it will cancel nearly all of the planned rake increases that it previously announced in October, rolling back a series of changes that had drawn the ire of many regular players.

Almost all of the rake increases have been abolished, with the one exception being changes to the fees related to PokerStars’ Spin & Go tournaments.

PokerStars initially made the announcement on the Two Plus Two poker forums, where it also outlined what changes could and would not be made to player benefits and rake in the months to come.

No Rake Increases Before July

In particular, the post outlined that most upcoming changes would likely be confined to jurisdictions that tax online gambling or charge a value-added tax (VAT). However, even increases in these countries will not happen without plenty of warning to players.

“We will not do so before July 2015 at the earliest, and we will maintain our policy of passing on no more than half the tax to players and absorbing the rest ourselves,” a PokerStars representative wrote on the forums.

Rewards Programs Could be Impacted

In the next few months, players who live in countries where such taxes are offered may see changes to their rewards programs, said Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for PokerStars and Amaya.

“For instance, within a few months we will reduce the VPP multipliers for some countries that are subject to gaming duty or VAT but that do not have their own software clients,” Hollreiser wrote on the PokerStars blog. “We will deploy the change as soon as we are technically able, likely within the next two months. We are also developing the ability to charge different rake/fees for different players within shared liquidity.”

According to the forums post, PokerStars does not plan to otherwise implement any rake increases throughout the rest of 2015. However, it was also noted that this only applies to PokerStars.com, and not to some of the company’s segregated sites in nations like Italy and France.

Accordding to Hollreiser, the level of rake in PokerStars’ games is something that the company is always trying to balance correctly.

“Rake changes have a complex impact on the poker economy,” Hollreiser wrote. “We always strive to make changes that ‘get it right’ and we’re not afraid to make adjustments based upon feedback and new analysis. We continue to pride ourselves on offering what we believe to be the best online poker experience at the lowest price.”

Hyper-Turbo Players to See Benefits

Player reaction to the announcement was overwhelmingly positive, though some questioned why PokerStars made the decision to increase its rakes in the first place.

“Seems like common sense has returned to the Stars headquarters,” wrote Two Plus Two poster FR-Nit. “Next time think about what you wanna do. Effectively you scratched Stars’ image for nothing.”

The rollback will most obviously impact players who played in hyper-turbo sit and go tournaments, which had already seen fee increases in early November.

In other cases, the rake and fee increases had been announced, but had yet to be implemented, which means many players may not even realize that anything was ever scheduled to change. However, increased rakes in the popular lottery-style Spin & Go tournaments will remain in place.

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