Pokerstars has always been a popular choice for players - Recreational as well as regulars. This changed in the end of October last year however, as the world's biggest poker site announced that they were to increase the rake in many of the games available and that most of them were to happen just a few days later on November 3rd.
The rake was initially raised on all hyper-turbo Sit&Go's as well as on the Spin&Go's, with additional rake raises coming to knockout-tournaments and other popular games. This was far from a popular decision from Pokerstars and the community was quick to rage publically about it on forums such as 2+2, where there were talks about a massive sit-out strike and many other ways to hurt them.
The problem in the increase of rake was that the win-rate of certain players would go down significantly, as well as the recreational players going broke much faster. This would not only lead to fewer games, but also to some players no longer being able to make a living out of the games they love to play.
This is no longer the case however, as Amaya, the company who owns Pokerstars, announced on Pokerstarsblog.com that they are removing all rake increases they already integrated and planned to integrate later on, except the one on the Spin&Go games.
"After additional analysis and consideration, we have now returned the rake to pre-November 3 levels in most instances and have cancelled the planned additional increases. Spin & Go tournament fees and payout changes implemented on November 3 will remain in place."
Pokerstars at the same time promised not to increase the rake in all of 2015, "other than in jurisdictions where we have already or will experience increased gaming duty or VAT". The poker economy is a tricky thing to balance and with all the new regulations, taxes and fees they have to pay, they are trying hard to balance it without harming the players too much.
“As you're likely aware, more countries are introducing taxation, increasing the impact on our business and the poker economy at large. We will continue to use a combination of rake increases and VIP Club reward reductions to address the increased taxation, but these changes will be made consistent with our past practice of sharing up to 50% of taxation with players. For instance, within a few months we will reduce the VPP multipliers for some countries that are subject to gaming duty or VAT but that do not have their own software clients. We will deploy the change as soon as we are technically able, likely within the next two months. We are also developing the ability to charge different rake/fees for different players within shared liquidity.” Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for Pokerstars said in a thread about the rake changes on 2+2.
It is without a doubt much more difficult for operators to accept players from regulated countries today, with their different taxation levels and many other problems. If Pokerstars can find a solution to charge different rake for different countries along with lowering the rewards to pay for the fees and taxes of the players, they are looking to take over an even bigger market share in the short-term future.