High Stakes Pot-Limit Omaha Players Have Been Boycotting GGPoker Over High Rake

  • Players calculated rake after rakeback is as high as 11.2 bb/100
  • PLO is also high variance with lower win rates than NLH
  • High rake and low win rates lead to toxicity and “bumhunting”
  • GGPoker rolled back rake increases after high stakes NL players boycotted
Yellow rake scooping cash
High Stakes Pot-Limit Omaha players are over a week into a boycott of GGPoker in protest of high rake. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The highest stakes are the most expensive

For the second time this year, high stakes online poker players are boycotting GGPoker. Whereas in April the boycott centered around high stakes No-Limit Hold’em players (HSNL), this go around it is Pot-Limit Omaha players (PLO) who are trying to send a message to the world’s largest poker room as their boycott enters its second week.

unsustainable for those who make a living at the game

The issue: rake. According to an analysis conducted by a group of high stakes PLO players, GGPoker’s rake is way too high, to the point of making playing on the site unsustainable for those who make a living at the game. They found that, at best, players might be able to eek at a “very low edge,” as a poster named “PLOUnionRep” said on the Two Plus Two poker forums.

PLOUnionRep shared their high stakes group’s calculations, showing that “regulars” (or “regs”) pay about 7-8 big blinds per 100 hands (bb/100) in full ring games and 13-14 bb/100 at heads-up tables. Taking into account 20-30% rakeback for regulars, those numbers come down to about 4.9-6.4 bb/100 in full ring games and 9.1-11.2 bb/100 in heads-up games. Those rake levels, they say, are “consistent across every stake above 25/50,” when at most online poker rooms, rake scales down as stakes go up.

The goal of the boycott is to get GGPoker’s attention so management will discuss a rake reduction with high stakes PLO regulars.

High rake leads to fear, fear leads to anger

The high rake, PLOUnionRep says, has effects beyond simply cutting into size of pots. Pot-Limit Omaha is a high variance game and because the nature of the high stakes games means that pros can’t “grind thousands of hands a day,” players must have extremely large bankrolls to protect themselves against downswings. An average player, PLOUnionRep says, has about a 20% chance to make no money for the entire year.

PLO win rates, the high stakes group says, must be higher than NL win rates to make up for the increased variance.

The high stakes players average 0.5 bb/100 pre-rakeback and 1.5-2.5 bb/100 after rakeback.

The variance and low win rates lead to toxicity at the tables and stalking any and every “VIP” (a more polite term for “fish”) that ventures to the table.

this is not an environment that VIPs enjoy but it is the environment that is forced upon everyone”

“Extremely aggressively bumhunting and regs fighting for whoever can click on the seat the quickest when a VIP joins is the only way to approach playing on GG,” said PLOUnionRep. “This is not an environment that VIPs enjoy but it is the environment that is forced upon everyone through an unreasonably high amount of rake for starting tables.”

And those VIPs, they added, must lose at an astronomical rate for regulars to stay at the table.

April boycott worked

A group of 90 HSNL regulars boycotted GGPoker in April in protest of a massive increase in rake at their preferred tables. And it worked, as after two weeks, the poker room agreed to significant concessions.

nearly nine times that of GGPoker’s competitors

Prior to the rake increase, the HSNL players calculated that the rake in a five-to-six-handed game of $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em was 4.02 bb/100 before the rake increase, nearly nine times that of GGPoker’s competitors. After the rake increase, the estimated rake was 7.08 bb/100.

The goal of the high stakes players was to get GGPoker to reduce the rake to the point where it was possible for players to win and enjoy themselves and therefore stay at the tables so that the poker room could profit.

After talking with representatives from the HSNL group, GGPoker agreed to roll back 90% of the rake increases in games that have four or more players. Three-handed and heads-up games also saw their rake decreased and GGPoker promised to consider further decreases at those tables.

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