The world's biggest real-money online poker room PokerStars has removed its lowest stakes games for its Belgian customers on a trial basis.
Players in Belgium operate on a dot-be domain due to the country's online poker legislation, however, the site shares international liquidity with players on the dot-com along with many other domains.
The changes began on June 15 and removed all $0.01/$0.02 games across the board for Belgian players. Belgian poster "kmeirlaen" shared with the TwoPlusTwo community his response from PokerStars after emailing the site when he noticed the changes.
This is a follow-up regarding your recent email about NL2 cash game.
We have received the following information about these games. We are sorry to inform you that this is intentional.
We are indeed trialing the removal of $/€/£2.00 no-limit as well as $/€/£ 0.01/0.02 pot-limit and no-limit games in Belgium, since June 15.
We frequently review the selection of ring games and tournaments within our lobby and monitor how that affects the overall playing experience, whether playing on smartphone, tablet or desktop. We experiment with all aspects of the game by trying out new challenges, promotions and types of poker; launching new online series, such as the MicroMillions; and sponsoring live poker festivals around the world.
However, we do value your feedback and assure you it has been forwarded to the relevant team for this trial.
We apologize for the inconveniences and thank you for your understanding.
On the face of things, this move appears to be a reversal of the trend of the stated mission of PokerStars to transform the site into a more friendly environment to recreational players in hopes of improving the ecosystem. During the past year, PokerStars upset many of its loyal customer base by revamping its loyalty program and also converting all heads-up cash-game tables to Zoom Poker with the stated goal of attracting more casual players.
However, one might feel that the trial removal of micro-stakes games in Belgium could be more in line with some of the more recent promotions they have offered including the Card Hunt and the Pyramid Challenges where the minimum stake to be able to participate with $0.05/$0.10 games.
Others feel that this could be a rake grab on the part of PokerStars since the games removed feature a 3.35-percent rake with a maximum of $0.30. The next highest stakes of $0.02/$0.04 rake at 4.15 percent with a maximum of $1.
Whether or not the trial proves successful with players moving up stakes or choosing to play other games such as low stakes lottery-style Spin & Go games remains to be seen. If it does prove successful, it wouldn't be surprising to see these changes rolled out to other domains or to the entire dot-com player pool.