PokerStars announced new promotional and rake changeseffective in November and the beginning of 2015. These changes could lighten the wallets of just about every PokerStars customer via a reduction in benefits and increased rake across the board for cash games, sit and gos, and tournaments.
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The most immediate change is the elimination of the Battle of the Planets promotion as of November 1, which rewarded the top weekly sit and go players on PokerStars. In other words, this is the last week for sit and go grinders to earn extra money in this promotion.
Tournament players on PokerStars will be subject to increased fees for hyper-turbo and knockout tournaments as of November 3. Hyper-turbos will have their rake increased from 2% to approximately half the fees of tournaments with similar buy-ins.
PokerStars was previously not charging a rake on the knockout portion of the entry fee in knockout tournaments. Starting on Monday, the tournament buy-in fee will be identical to non-knockout tournaments. For example, previously in a $5 knockout tournament, the fee would have been $0.25 since it would just be applied to the $2.50 going toward the prize pool. The new fee will be $0.50, or double, since the fee will be applied to the entire $5 buy-in. These changes will also apply to knockout sit and gos.
Hyper-turbo heads-up sit and gos will have an increased rake at all buy-in levels. Players at the $1.50 level might not feel a pinch because the rake increase is only $0.01 from $0.06 to $0.07; however, the increase on higher stakes heads-up tournaments is more obvious, with a $1,000 hyper-turbo heads-up sit and go being raked $13.42 instead of the $11.17 currently being charged.
The fee for the newly introduced Spin & Go tournaments will also be increased as of November 3 for all tournaments with a buy-in of $3 or more. Previously, Spin & Gos at these buy-ins were charged a 4% to 5% fee. Under the new structure, the fee will be 5% to 6%. The bright side here is that the top prize in these tournaments will be increased from 1,000 times the buy-in to 3,000 times the buy-in.
Ring game players could also feel a pinch. When there are exactly two players, the rake cap will increase to $2 for higher limits and $1 for other limits. Higher stakes ring game players will be subject to a $5 rake cap when there are five players or more.
There are more changes effective as of January 1, especially for players in strictly regulated markets. Players in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom will have to pay a new fee in rebuy tournaments. Each rebuy and add-on for these players will be charged a fee identical to the initial buy-in.
These announced policy changes are on top of other recently adjustments, including charging 2.5% for foreign exchange financial transactions, the culling of the PokerStars Team Pro roster, and terminating agreements with non-producing affiliates.
While it is possible that Amaya’s acquisition of PokerStars had an influence on the new policies given the amount of debt the company took on, it is also possible these changes would have happened anyway due to the increased gaming regulation throughout Europe. For example, as of November 1, PokerStars will be subject to a 15% point of consumption tax on its UK customer base due to the enforcement of the UK Gambling Act.
These changes may also be related to PokerStars recently pulling out of 30 gray markets. It is believed that in these markets PokerStars was not subject to any gaming tax in the past. Visit PokerStarsfor more information and check out this thread in the Poker Sites forum.