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Pokerstars Raises Rake - Cuts SNG Promotion

Pokerstars Small Star

Pokerstars Small Star

  There have been numerous changes at PokerStars since it was taken over by Amaya.  The latest change, increased rake, has players in an uproar.


PokerStars Raises Rake and Tournament Fees

Professional Rakeback has some potentially sad news for our clients and for the poker community as a whole. The largest poker sites in the world, PokerStars, has decided to raise the rake on many of its cash games, sit and go tournaments as well as multi-table tournaments.
In a recent announcement on the Two Plus Two Internet Poker forum, "PokerStars Steve" posted a large update about promotions and changes to Spin & Go prizes as well as rake changes. By far the most interesting data is that of the rake changes, of which will be going into effect in a mere four days, on November 3rd, 2014. More changes, are due in the second phase of rake increases, which appears to deal primarily with tournament fees and will take place on January 1st, 2015.

Hyper Speed Tournament Fee Increases

These upcoming rake changes are rather comprehensive and include an increase to ALL stakes of heads up hyper turbo sit and go tournaments. Hyperturbo tournaments are known for having small edges due to their fast formats. Players on popular forums such as 2+2 and Pocket Fives appear to be outraged at many of these changes. Evidently the rake changes have many players believing that they will no longer be able to profit at all in these games. An analysis of the HUSNG hypers shows that the rake increase is a whopping twenty percent across the board except in the case of the smallest buyins, $1.50, which is only a seventeen percent increase. Below is a chart of the old rake versus the new rake schedule.

HUSNG Hypers Rake Schedule
*Implementation due November 3rd, 2014

Continuing on the theme of hyper speed tournaments, scheduled hyper-turbos multi-table tournaments will see an increase from the current level of two percent to roughly one half of the tournament fees ordinarily charged for regular speed scheduled tournaments of equivalent buy-in stakes. These are just examples, all stakes of Hyper MTTs will be raised similarly, these however were the only examples provided by 2+2 PokerStars representative, PokerStars Steve. The two changes listed however are quite dramatic, with the $215 buy-in sporting an increase of a whopping eighty five percent. Meanwhile the $50 buy-in will have a rake increase of a shockingly large two hundred and fifty percent!

Hyper Turbo MTT Rake Schedule
*Implementation due November 3rd, 2014

Rounding out the hyper-turbo repertoire, hyper satellite sit and goes are not immune will see significantly raised tournament fees as well.  The current fee for hyper-turbo satellite Sit & Goes is the same as hyper turbo MTTs, two percent. This fee will be raised to be  approximately seventy five percent of the fees charged for cash prize hyper-turbo Sit & Go tournaments of an equivalent stakes buy-in. Rake increases range from a whopping two hundred and sixty six percent on the low end to a mild five percent in the thousand dollar buyin games. Nosebleed 2k and 5k games are unaffected by the rank changes. Here are the examples provided:

Hyper Turbo Sattelite Rake schedule
*Implementation due January 1st, 2015

Knock Out Tournament Fee Increases

PokerStars will also be increasing the rake on the popular Knock Out or KO multi-table tournaments.  KO MTTs as well a KO SNGs, both regular speed and turbo speed, will see increased tournament fees. These fees will be increased to be in line with the existing rake structure of non Knock Out tournaments of equivalent buy-ins. An analysis of the numbers reveals that the smallest increase to the tournament fees will be approximately twenty five percentage points while on the high end fees will be raised up forty percent. Please note that the fees on super KO tournaments will not be affected by these rake increases.

Regular Speed Knock Out Tournament Fee Schedule
*Implementation due November 3rd, 2014

Turbo Speed Knock Out Tournament Fee Schedule
*Implementation due November 3rd, 2014

Spin and Go Fee Increases and Prize Pool Changes

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Spin and Go tournaments.  The tournaments, while on the surface appear to be profitable, have added a whole new meaning to the word variance for poker players. According to PokerStars regs, as well as GameIntel cash game numbers, they have also reduced liquidity in both cash games and other forms of sit and goes. Apparently recreational players like to gamble, who knew? 

Spin and Go tournaments will also see a rake increase coupled with a new tournament prize structuring. Formerly the top prize, randomly generated, was worth one thousand times the tournament buy-in.  The new system will sport a maximum prize of three thousand times the initial buyin.  Professional Rakeback supposes that the idea here is a marketing ploy, since" buy into a $30 Spin-n-Go and win $108,000" sounds much better than "win $36,000."  And hey, we agree, it does sound better.  What sounds worse however is the vastly increased variance in an already high variance product. Added to that will be decreased ROI coming from the rake hikes.  Spin-n-Goes of $3 and higher buy-ins will be affected.  Here is a comparison of the prior Spin-n-Go fees versus the new Spin-n-Go tournament fees:

Spin and Go Tournament Fee Schedule
*Implementation due November 3rd, 2014

Cash Game Rake Increases

Cash game players, you may be affected as well!  PokerStars is raising the rake on a few different types of cash games, but not the same sweeping changes seen in hyper turbos, spins, or KOs. The era of bumhunting is coming to a close, and Professional Rakeback also predicts that there will also be a drop in reg on reg violence moving forward. The heads up rake cap, on both heads up tables, 6max tables, and ring game poker tables with exactly two seated players will effectively double for all stakes below $25/50 and will quadruple for the $25/50 games! These changes only apply to the pot limit and no limit versions of games, fixed limit games with there inherently lower edges were left untouched (phew!). Additionally, $25/50+ players will noticed that when five or more players are dealt in, the rake will increase an additional sixty six percentage points.  Here is the hard data on the cash game rake increases:

PokerStars Increased Cash Game Rake
*Implementation due November 3rd, 2014

More Rake Increases for Regulated Markets

You may have thought we were done, but unfortunately, Professional Rakeback has even more bad news to deliver. There will be additional tournament fees for all rebuy and add-on tournaments for players in regulated markets due to excess taxation, gaming duties and value added taxes assessed in said countries (look out US Poker market, this is coming to you soon!). PokerStars has not provided a full list of countries and domains (ETA January 1st, 2015), but cited as examples that because of these additional taxation and gaming duties that higher fees would be assessed on rebuys and add-ons for all lpayers connecting from,,, and  German players can blame the VAT.

Battle of the Planets, Other Recent Changes, and Rumors

Just when you thought it could not get any worse, it did. The popular promotion, Battle of the Planets, which had a monthly prize pool of over two hundred thousand US dollars, or $2,500,000 + annual budget was just cancelled.  The promotion ends Saturday, September 1st, 2014.  All players are expected to receive their BotP prizes at the normal weekly payout times.

What is there to say? PokerStars, since being taken over by Amaya, has made a slew of changes that can not be classified as "reg friendly."  PokerStars, under prior management was touted as a great place for grinders to earn a living, what with high liquidity and a Super Nova Elite VIP program that paid studious grinders six figures a year.  Recently however we see the new Amaya management reducing SNE benefits in 2015, cutting VIP benefits for UK players, kicking out players from over two dozen gray market countries, removing millions of dollars of promotions, adding casino games, increased currency conversion / FX fees, pushing new games with highly increased variance, and finally, raising the rake.

Players who were once die hard PokerStars fans have been going crazy in public forums.  Besides the norm, hundreds of posts of angry venting, there is talk of organized sit outs, mass email writing campaigns, and the "voting with their feet" options.  Professional Rakeback has already seen rumors in the poker affiliate circles of a PokerStars source leaking information about Super Nova Elite in 2016... namely that "SNE is being axed in 2016."  Yes, that is just an unsubstantiated rumor, but Professional Rakeback would not be surprised to see that happen given the recent changes.

We at Professional Rakeback still think that PokerStars will be a good place for many a grinder to earn a living, but that living is likely to be reduced, and many marginal "rakeback pros" are likely to be displaced.  We predict there will be a significant reduction in SNE players for 2015 as well.  With all of these changes however, PokerStars is not likely to be losing its spot as the largest poker site on the planet any time soon, they may be giving up a bit of market share to their competitors though.  If you happen to be a soon to be disgruntled or displaced PokerStars grinder, please feel free to Skype Professional Rakeback for a free consultation about what other options are available to you at the other twenty poker sites we offer to our valued clients, we will find the right spot for you!

For those of you who wanted the Cliff Notes, here they are:

Amaya Shareholders will be happy with increased profits
PokerStars grinders will be upset with decreased income

Looking for a new SNG grind? The poker software isn't the same quality, nor is there all the crazy HUD support, but TigerGaming has a monthly $50,000 SNG race full of weak players.  Or perhaps you might look at the Winning Poker Network who has a cloned copy of the PokerStars VIP program dubbed Elite Benefits and a weekly progressive rake race on top of that. Not to mention they are offering a $1,000,000 guaranteed online poker tournament on December 14th, 2014.