PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker website increased their rake share this past week. The new rates took effect on Monday, 28th March, 2016. Predictably, the rate increase has met with backlash and criticism from the online poker community.
The rate changes do not affect all the formats of the game equally and there are also variable rate increases by PokerStars. Online poker websites like PokerStars take a certain share of every hand that is played and that makes up a large part of their revenue. The problem with increasing their rake rates is that it leaves the players with a smaller share of the pot and people who are used to the old rates of PokerStars may find the rate increase uncalled for.
Daniel Negreanu is not only one of the top poker players in the world but is also a member of the PokerStars team. He has come out in defense of his sponsors’ decision to increase rake rates and justified PokerStar’s decision on the basis of business reasons. In a statement given by Negreanu he said, “PokerStars offers a service, and of course, they have the right to set the prices for that service however they choose to. If you set the prices too high, customers may not use your service. If prices are set too low, then the company is likely missing out on revenue.”
Negreanu also stated that he personally has never complained about rake increases in his long poker career and simply moved on to other formats if the rake made it too difficult for him to make a profit. He advised players to find games that have lower rake rates or to continue to play games on PokerStars that have not been affected by the new rake hikes.
This is not the first time PokerStars has tinkered with the rake rates, the company tried to change the rake rates last year but due to player backlash and negative publicity the company renounced all the changes and went back to its original rakes. This time however the company has gone ahead with its rake changes and with the company’s brand ambassador coming out in strong defense of the decision it seems that the changes are here to stay.
PokerStars anticipated the backlash and released a statement justifying the increase stating that the company still offers the lowest rates for any major online poker operator.