PokerStars Announces Major Rake, Promotional Changes

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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.

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35 COMMENTS

  1. wow, that is some BS. Pokerstars is basically an ATM for its owners as it is. They are just getting greedy.

    Cut back on the promo’s for the people who don’t play real money games. There are millions of dollars a year given away in nickel and dime promotions. The “Mission Week Promo” is giving out 200k. Sure its nice but you gotta play bingo to win $2.

    I don’t play the high stakes but they are squeezing money from the them, their base and most loyal players, to fund giving out $2 to 10 000 players who will blow it in 5 minutes playing penny poker and 10 cent sngs. Cut out that shit.

    The rebuy is the most ridiculous imo

    • I lol’d at the fact that they were upping the spin and go fee too. It is already very deceptive how much they actually take on it. They make a higher % than the entry fee %. The awarding of money isn’t a zero sum. Someone on 2p2 did the math.

      TMLMS – the rebuy fee is not for Canada… yet..

      this will eliminate a lot of the people who open push then double rebuy nearing the break to build a big stack quickly. I also think it is isn’t fair that different countries have different rake in the same tournament. They extra fee will be coming to Canada within a month imo.

    • Now we know how the new owners of Poker Stars are going to recoup the $4.9 Billion dollars they just paid for Poker Stars?

      Did not see that coming… #Sarcasm

    • I lol’d at the fact that they were upping the spin and go fee too. It is already very deceptive how much they actually take on it. They make a higher % than the entry fee %. The awarding of money isn’t a zero sum. Someone on 2p2 did the math.

      this will eliminate a lot of the people who open push then double rebuy nearing the break to build a big stack quickly. I also think it is isn’t fair that different countries have different rake in the same tournament. They extra fee will be coming to Canada within a month imo.

      PokerStars.fr has been charging fees on rebuys and add-ons since it began. Hasn’t made the games any less fishy. That being said, not a fan of any of this.

    • Great article Jason!

      Thanks – although don’t kill the messenger of the potentially bad news for PokerStars players. 😉

    • yeah really doesnt seem too bad, added rake in ko’s an hypers bringing them more in line with regular mtts anywaythese changes are being forced by the eu governments squeezing more money from pokerstars. its no surprise this is all changing just as the knew uk regulations come into force

    • if i had 200 k i can make poker site. rake and fees free for all just admin charge and tips from viners to run some one will come alonge ,make poker site than pokerstars amaya fultitl and the rest will fail by wayside this poker sites are becoming heelless in poker world oll over my advice is never have large somes of money on they accounts ,

    • yeah really doesnt seem too bad, added rake in ko’s an hypers bringing them more in line with regular mtts anywaythese changes are being forced by the eu governments squeezing more money from pokerstars. its no surprise this is all changing just as the knew uk regulations come into force

      Already being paid for by a reduction in the VIP system for those players affected.

      This is just a money grab pure and simple

    • PokerStars.fr has been charging fees on rebuys and add-ons since it began. Hasn’t made the games any less fishy. That being said, not a fan of any of this.

      this is due to French tax laws not for them to make more profit. Also the entire player base has these fees, only selected (for now) countries have these fees.

      Guys who play 3r 180s or the 3x satties now cannot win in these games essentially

    • this is due to French tax laws not for them to make more profit. Also the entire player base has these fees, only selected (for now) countries have these fees.

      Guys who play 3r 180s or the 3x satties now cannot win in these games essentially

      The new UK tax laws are pretty harsh in my opinion. It is a 15% point of consumption tax. I’d be surprised if other UK-facing sites also don’t follow suit and charge new fees and take away some promotions. Unfortunately it is a new reality that the government started when passing the new gaming regime. Sites typically don’t just eat new costs but pass at least some of the burden to the consumers.

      Whether they needed to do this or not, I’m not sure, since not sure how the POC tax works for rebuys. But if they need to pay tax every time a UK player rebuys, it seems logically that all sites will eventually charge UK players and may money grab and charge the rest of the world as well every time a rebuy takes place.

    • The new UK tax laws are pretty harsh in my opinion. It is a 15% point of consumption tax. I’d be surprised if other UK-facing sites also don’t follow suit and charge new fees and take away some promotions. Unfortunately it is a new reality that the government started when passing the new gaming regime. Sites typically don’t just eat new costs but pass at least some of the burden to the consumers.

      Whether they needed to do this or not, I’m not sure, since not sure how the POC tax works for rebuys. But if they need to pay tax every time a UK player rebuys, it seems logically that all sites will eventually charge UK players and may money grab and charge the rest of the world as well every time a rebuy takes place.

      sorry but you are grossly wrong on this.

      France taxes on the prizepool and .uk on revenue alone. So stars only pays tax on any rake generated where as .fr pays tax on size of prizepool regardless of rake. So they don’t pay tax everytime someone rebuys

      Also the tax rate is half of all other non poker gaming sites. Poker got a reduced rate versus other gambling sites

      The reduction in vip program offsets more than half of this cost already fwiw

    • sorry but you are grossly wrong on this.

      France taxes on the prizepool and .uk on revenue alone. So stars only pays tax on any rake generated where as .fr pays tax on size of prizepool regardless of rake. So they don’t pay tax everytime someone rebuys

      Also the tax rate is half of all other non poker gaming sites. Poker got a reduced rate versus other gambling sites

      The reduction in vip program offsets more than half of this cost already fwiw

      I haven’t read anywhere that rebuys won’t be taxed, but you could be right since I haven’t read that they will be either. That being said they just went from a 0% tax to a 15% point of consumption tax. Whether poker is less than non-poker gaming sites isn’t relevant as much as how much their costs went up. The costs are severe enough for many sites to pull our or plan to pull out of the UK. Reducing some benefits doesn’t really cover that. I’d obviously prefer for things to always remain the same, but still appreciate that PokerStars has a reasonable rake structure on most of their games.

      You could be 100% correct and it could be 100% an Amaya looking for more revenue, but think its a hybrid situation.

    • I haven’t read anywhere that rebuys won’t be taxed, but you could be right since I haven’t read that they will be either. That being said they just went from a 0% tax to a 15% point of consumption tax. Whether poker is less than non-poker gaming sites isn’t relevant as much as how much their costs went up. The costs are severe enough for many sites to pull our or plan to pull out of the UK. Reducing some benefits doesn’t really cover that. I’d obviously prefer for things to always remain the same, but still appreciate that PokerStars has a reasonable rake structure on most of their games.

      You could be 100% correct and it could be 100% an Amaya looking for more revenue, but think its a hybrid situation.

      15% after VIP program etc and marketing costs have been accounted for so its not that high actually, and again like I pointed out over half of this is being paid by the consumer already.

      Not sure why you need to read rebuys won’t be taxed it’s in the wording of the new laws essentailly, tax is paid on all revenue. At the moment rebuys are not raked so generate no revenue therefore no Tax under UK rules

      If you read the post I linked to the guy involved with the actual process of legalising poker in the UK points out that its a huge money grab he explains likely way better than I do why this is a money grab

      Not really sure what you are arguing to be honest its pretty clear in black and white

    • 15% after VIP program etc and marketing costs have been accounted for so its not that high actually, and again like I pointed out over half of this is being paid by the consumer already.

      Not sure why you need to read rebuys won’t be taxed it’s in the wording of the new laws essentailly, tax is paid on all revenue. At the moment rebuys are not raked so generate no revenue therefore no Tax under UK rules

      If you read the post I linked to the guy involved with the actual process of legalising poker in the UK points out that its a huge money grab he explains likely way better than I do why this is a money grab

      Not really sure what you are arguing to be honest its pretty clear in black and white

      Not arguing more discussing, but I am not sure (if the guy is an authority on the matter that you linked, then now am sure) about rebuys since I worked in the accounting field for many years and understand implied revenue is sometimes used for taxes. If that is the case you are right about the rebuy situation, but if it isn’t cut there might mean VIP program winds up cut even more.

      Anyway, essentially on the same side. I wish live and online poker was like it was in 2004 or even 2010 or now 2013.

    • I lol’d at the fact that they were upping the spin and go fee too. It is already very deceptive how much they actually take on it. They make a higher % than the entry fee %. The awarding of money isn’t a zero sum. Someone on 2p2 did the math.

      Link to this? Would like to read… I tested and thought the math worked as planned.

    • Interesting – PokerStars has not made any announcements about this delay or about potentially reconsidering the increases they announced effective Jan. 1 a couple of months ago.

    • wow, that is some BS. Pokerstars is basically an ATM for its owners as it is. They are just getting greedy.

      Cut back on the promo’s for the people who don’t play real money games. There are millions of dollars a year given away in nickel and dime promotions. The “Mission Week Promo” is giving out 200k. Sure its nice but you gotta play bingo to win $2.

      I don’t play the high stakes but they are squeezing money from the them, their base and most loyal players, to fund giving out $2 to 10 000 players who will blow it in 5 minutes playing penny poker and 10 cent sngs. Cut out that shit.

      The rebuy is the most ridiculous imo

      you don’t get it….it’s much much better for stars that those 10,000 people have the $2 to play with rather than one guy playing 25/50 who has the entire $2

    • Fee on Rebuys? Lol.. Higher Rake on Spin & Go? Lol… Thought Pokerstars is on the way of getting more traffic, but now.. Amaya is going to make Poker like Blackjack where only the bank wins?

    • you don’t get it….it’s much much better for stars that those 10,000 people have the $2 to play with rather than one guy playing 25/50 who has the entire $2

      I’d rather have less giveaways, if it meant lower rake.

    • Rake getting to high…. better get to playing Live…. there is a small window to win in live games too… as google glass will make it unbeatable some day……