A group of high-stakes players chose not to participate in the recent PokerStars’ Turbo Series $5,200 PKO event. Players decided to take a stand after the online poker giant announced that it was making a change in the rake system for MTT players.
Among those who vowed not to take part in the event which was scheduled for February 16 were top-ranked multi-table tournament (MTT) online players “giraf ganger”, Niklas “lena900” Astedt, and Simon “CPl Darwin2” Mattsson. The players released a statement to poker media outlets, stating that they taking a stand by boycotting this PokerStars event in order to send a strong message and also to leverage advantage of the MTT community in diverting action and attention from one site to a particular competitor in an attempt to get their voices heard.
Rewards Reduction
Several players in the online poker industry have been expressing dissatisfaction over PokerStars’ imposition of radical changes in recent years to its rewards system. The company decided to remove the highest rakeback level in its rewards scheme to put more focus on drawing recreational players.
The rewards in MTTs will now be reduced by 55%, which is nearly cutting by half the previous 100 points per $1 rakeback policy. The changes started to come into force from February 15 to the disappointment of the MTT community.
Severin Rasset, director of poker operation and innovation for The Stars Group – the parent company of PokerStars said the latest decision stemmed from players’ feedback and internal reviews. He said the money saved from the implementation of the new rewards policy will be redirected toward increasing tournament guarantees and giving every player the best, most exciting live poker experiences.
In addition to cutting the tournament rewards, other changes were also introduced effective immediately, including tripling the average value of a chest while decreasing its earning frequency, removing “boosts” as a permanent feature, the addition of an “exchange” feature, and simplifying the six-tier rewards system.
High-Stakes Players Boycott $5,200 PKO Event
Since the announcement, players have been reacting negatively, with a group of MTT players led by “giraf ganger” deciding to boycott a $5,200 PKO event on February 16. The Belgian player said they could no longer take all the disappointments in their stride as PokerStars hoped they would. Close to 200 MTT players have joined giraf ganger to protest against the online poker website’s vague rake policies and lack of communication.
Among the issues pointed out by the group in a post on Medium.com included the constantly increasing rake and the diminishing rakeback rewarded to players. The group has also hit out at the poker giant for coming up with an MTT structure that’s designed to lower ROIs.
The group called for direct communication channels to be opened with the company, clear rake system, a reassessment of the rake across all stakes including in lower-edge formats, minimizing the length of late registrations, and limiting the number of reentries.
Numerous high-profile names from the high-stakes community took part in the February 16 PKO event boycott. Some of the players who participated included Mikita “fish2013 Badziakouski, Rui “RuiNF” Ferreira, Conor “1_conor_1_b” Beresford, Samuel “€urop€an” Vousden, Sam “Samsquid” Grafton, Mustapha “Iasagnaaammm” Kanit, Steven “SvZff” van Zadelhoff, and Connor “blanconegro” Drinan.
These players chose to skip owing to the rewards reduction.
Rivals Take Chances
PokerStars has faced player protests in the past but the online poker giant has chosen to maintain its stance and not give into to protests. It can afford to take a tough stance because PokerStars dominates just about every market it enters into and is the biggest online poker website in the world.
In the wake of the annoyance and dismay brought about by the company’s changes in the rewards system, Partypoker announced an increase in the buy-in of their KO Series. From $3,000, it will now become $5,000 and will now have a guaranteed prize pool of $1,000,000.
888poker also announced an additional “rakefree” Sunday, hosting several tournaments for free.
This, along with the innovative rewards system of the recently-launched Run It Once Poker, could impact PokerStars’ appeal to players. For the meantime, the company will have to deal with the outburst from high-stakes players and see if it can win them back.

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.