PokerStars made an unannounced change in its online poker offerings available to Belgian players by removing low stakes games from the site.
The world’s largest poker site, PokerStars operates a region-specific website for Belgian players as a result of the country’s gaming rules which allow only licensed operators to offer online gaming services.
The dot-be domain however shares international player liquidity with PokerStars’ dot-com site as well as others.
On June 15, PokerStars removed games having stakes in the range of $0.01 to $2 available for Belgian players without any official announcement. The company however issued a clarifying note in response to questions from users who noticed the changes.
In its response, company representatives said that PokerStars was in the process of running a trial by removing $/€/£ 0.01/0.02 no-limit and pot-limit games as well as $/€/£2.00 no-limit games on its Belgian website.
The statement added that the company frequently reviewed the selection of available games and their performance to understand player experience on their sites regardless of the device used. The company regularly made efforts to launch new challenges, promotions and innovative series such as Micro Millions in addition to live poker festivals worldwide in an effort to keep players engaged.
The move to remove low-stakes games could be seen as a contradiction to PokerStars’ mission of offering a welcoming environment for casual players and improving the overall player ecosystem. Many of its recent changes such as converting heads-up cash-game tables on the site to Zoom Poker have been implemented in order to encourage recreational players.
However the change could also be a move to support some of its new offerings. The website has recently introduced a few promotions involving micro-stakes such as the Card Hunt and the Pyramid Challenges, which also indicates that the site is still willing to offer micro-stakes games.
Some however feel that this is a rake grab by PokerStars as the games eliminated by the site are those having 3.35-percent rake with a maximum of $0.30. The next level of stakes has $0.02/$0.04 rake at 4.15 percent having a maximum of $1. Removing low stakes games could push players to play games that have higher rakes and bigger prize pools, which in the end could result in an increase of revenues for PokerStars.
Since it is the trial phase PokerStars will possibly decide on the issue after evaluating its impact. If it does succeed, many expect similar changes to be rolled out to other PokerStars domains.