PokerStars Increases Rake For Low Stakes Tournaments

PokerStars Increases Rake For Low Stakes TournamentsPokerStars has increased the rake it charges on all its micro-stakes MTTs with buy-ins less than $20 in an effort to allow it to stay flexible in a constantly changing online gambling market.
The new fee structure was introduced on Monday, March 26th, and according to Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at Stars Group, was a necessary move based upon a number of factors, including “customer behavior, commercial and promotional considerations, and the overall long-term sustainable health of the ecosystem.”
Extra Rake
While the increase will result in an undisclosed higher rake for low buy-in multi-table tournaments of less than $20, the rake for the quick-paced Time Tourneys will be reduced, thus making them more affordable. Rasset said that the move was required to address the changing demands of consumers, and also hinted that more changes would be forthcoming in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the site’s ecosystem.
“Pricing is a key commercial consideration for every business and we will increasingly use a dynamic pricing model that gives the greatest flexibility to respond to market dynamics,” explained Rasset. “Therefore, we will be reviewing and adjusting our pricing, bonusing and promotions, and our Stars Rewards program on an ongoing basis.”
Recreational Players Targeted
The latest rake increase targets the site’s low-stakes, recreational players, with PokerStars taking advantage of the market’s shifting demographic to increase revenue derived from one of its most popular products, namely low buy-in MTTs. Furthermore, the higher fees will allow PokerStars to continue to offer attractive large guarantees for its tournaments, but at the same time, due to the marginal nature of the increase, is unlikely to influence the willingness of its recreational players to compete in such games.
Player Backlash
PokerStars has received a great deal of player criticism in the past after announcing changes to its rake or rewards program, and these days the operator often consults with its customers before making any major decisions that will impact a large section of its player base. In this instance, however, its decision seems to have come from out of the blue, and overridden all other concerns. Consequently, PokerStars has once again attracted harsh rebukes for its actions, compounded by the fact that the precise amount of the fee charge has yet to be disclosed.
Doug Polk
Doug Polk is one of PokerStars’ staunchest critics, and once again the top pro wasted no time in attacking the rake hike. Referencing an argument Team PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu made following the site’s previous rake increase that rake hikes protect recreational players from sharks, Polk sarcastically tweeted:
“Many companies struggle to put together a cohesive message, but @Pokerstars has succeeded on that front in spades. Micro stakes recreational players are being protected with yet another rake increase, which will further increase everyone’s profitability..”
Nick Jones
Meanwhile, Nick Jones from Pokerfuse was quick to point out that PokerStars now charges a higher level of rake than its competitors, and that it would be interesting to see just how far the site would push its price hikes before experiencing a significant backlash from its customers.
Sunday Million Anniversary Edition
In between responding to customer questions regarding its rake changes, PokerStars took the opportunity to diffuse the situation slightly and create some good will by announcing its Sunday Million Anniversary Edition: Take 2. The first edition celebrating 12 years of the Sunday Million took place in February and offered a $10 million guarantee, meaning  50,000 players had to enter in order to to reach its anniversary guarantee. Just 43,975 player took part, though, ultimately resulting in a $1.2 million overlay provided by PokerStars.
On April 22nd, Take 2 will subsequently guarantee yet another $10 million prize pool, providing more value for its participants, with a huge $1 million first place prize awaiting its winner. This time around, however, PokerStars will be hoping that the tournament’s popularity will prove sufficient enough to smash its guarantee out of the park.

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