PokerStars announced plans to increase the rake in its micro-stakes multi-table tournaments (MTTs) where the buy-in is less than $20. This change in the fee structure will affect low-stakes players and according to the poker site, the move will allow the company to maintain flexibility.
The announcement came on Tuesday when the company’s Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset said on the PokerStars blog that the site is making changes to its pricing. Taking effect Monday, March 26, the revision includes the rake sizes of two formats of games. There will be a rise in the rake for multi-table tournaments with buy-ins less than $20, while the rake for the fast-paced Time Tourneys will decrease. Rasset also said that this would guarantee the long-term sustainability of PokerStars by increasing their flexibility in the constantly changing market.
The site, which is currently the largest online poker room in the world, did not specify how much the rake of these two formats will change. Many poker players, however, said that the exact amount of the increased rake does not matter so much, as it targets low-stakes players. In most cases, these are recreational players who are not willing to pay large sums just to enter a tournament. And these are the majority of people who take part in these tournaments. High-stakes players, on the other hand, will not be affected by the change in the rake as they can easily afford buy-ins of over $200, let alone $20.
Leveraging the New Demographic
In the blog post, Rasset says that the change is necessary for the company as “a dynamic pricing model gives the greatest flexibility to respond to market dynamics”. He adds that PokerStars will adjust the pricing structure on a regular basis due to the changes in consumer behaviour. It is, in fact, the demographic that is shifting, according to many experts and regular players.
In 2014, the poker site and its parent company were purchased by Canadian gambling giant Amaya (which was later renamed to The Stars Group). After the acquisition, the online platform added various other products alongside its poker offering and is now being visited by an increasing number of casual players who are attracted by the online casino or the sports betting sections. With these new types of players, low-stakes poker tournaments became extremely popular.
At the same time, PokerStars is taking advantage of its leading position in the market – it has the busiest online cardroom and MTTs with low buy-ins are very popular. Increasing the rake even slightly should have a considerable impact on the revenues of the company, even if the site decides to also increase the guaranteed prize pools, which attract many players. The size of the new, higher fees have not been disclosed and whether they would influence recreational players’ willingness to play poker is yet to be seen.