Phil Galfond Weighs In On PokerStars Rake ControversyNovember 5, 2014 1:04 pm
Recently PokerStars announced a number of strategic changes to its business model, including a new rake structure which will be implemented between now and January 1st, 2015, and will hit hardest the site’s high-stakes cash-game players, heads-up cash game players, and Sit & Go players.
While PokerStars’ most high-profile sponsored Pro Daniel Negreanu has been defending the move, other online professionals are worried that the games will now become unbeatable and believe the rake increase only serves to damage the brand. In an attempt to gauge just how much an affect these changes will have on these pros’ bottom line, PokerNews reached out to a number of PokerStars regular online high-stakes players, including Phil Galfond.
Phil Galfond is considered amongst the best poker players and thinkers in the game today, and has won $7,080,569 playing under the name “OMGClayAiken” at Full Tilt, as well as a further $1,524,792 as “MrSweets28” on PokerStars. Galfond’s insightful observations are therefore held highly by the poker community, and commenting about the rake increase at PokerStars, the 29 year-old pro, said:
“I don’t like the changes thus far and more than that, I fear for what’s yet to come if this is an indication of Amaya’s business strategy. They have a monopoly and if they want to press it, they don’t have any obvious incentive not to at the moment. The lack of a legitimate competitor is the major issue here.”
According to Galfond, there is little real point in high-stakes pros crying wolf and claiming that they will leave the site because, in Galfond’s opinion, a lack of viable competition means there is really nowhere else for them to go. A better approach, he argues, is for poker players to develop a good relationship with Amaya and try to work on a number of changes that will be of mutual benefit.
Highlighting the dangers facing PokerStars if such a compromise is not found, Phil Galfond warned: “If it gets to the point that a gifted college kid depositing $100 has no chance to grind cash all the way up to $50/$100, we all have a problem. If the dream of becoming a high-stakes poker pro dies, business will eventually follow.”