Negreanu Fires Back at “More Rake is Better” Critics

Daniel Negreanu

For a number of years, Daniel Negreanu has been berated by the poker community for defending PokerStars´ changes to its rake structure and rewards program. Now Negreanu has published a blog giving a fuller explanation of why more rake could be better for the long-term future of the game.

Daniel Negreanu never said the words “more rake is better”. The alleged quote was taken from a YouTube interview Negreanu gave in 2016, in which he explained why PokerStars reversed a rake reduction at lower stakes in order to prevent pros dropping down several levels of buy-in and destroying the ecosystem. Unfortunately, poor PR won the day and the alleged quote has stuck ever since.

What Negreanu actually said was that high levels of rake keeps pros away from low stakes games because the games become unbeatable. He went on to explain that, although a high level of rake is not a good thing for recreational players, recreational players´ funds last longer when pros keep away. Consequently, recreational players have a better experience than if they had lost their bankrolls (to pro players) in one session and are more likely to redeposit and keep the poker ecosystem growing.

Negreanu´s Poor PR Goes Back Further

The amount of criticism targeting Negreanu for his defence of PokerStars was fuelled by comments Negreanu had made two years previously in 2014 on the 2+2 poker forum. At the time, PokerStars had just rolled out Spin & Go games and was about to launch its online casino. Many regulars were unhappy about the rake charged on Spin & Go games, its roulette-style odds, and huge variance.

Negreanu disagreed and, rather than acknowledge Spin & Go games would destroy the ecosystem, he blamed the players who were complaining about the changes for the decline in recreational players. He also commented he would change the rewards program as well to eliminate benefits and bonuses for winning players – a comment that was not well received by the poker community.

The following year – when PokerStars announced the end of the Supernova VIP status – Negreanu was also criticized for standing up in defence of PokerStars.  His disinterest when the FPP/VPP program was discontinued in favour of StarsCoin and Reward Chests was noted with dismay by the poker community, and few celebrated when he was inducted into the WSOP Poker Hall of Fame.

Negreanu Tries to Explain Once Again

In terms of Daniel Negreanu´s contribution to the poker media, the last couple of years have been relatively quiet. However, Negreanu has recently penned a blog for his Full Contact Poker website in which he tries again to explain “My thoughts on RAKE!” and starts the article by setting out his position – that taking money out of the game only benefits the people who are collecting it.

Negreanu then provides a fuller explanation of why more rake in certain circumstances could be better for the long-term future of the game, citing an example from his early days as a professional poker player in Toronto. The explanation makes perfect sense, and although most pro players won´t like what Negreanu is advocating, it seems to be in line with the direction online poker sites are heading.

Hopefully, Negreanu´s blog isn´t a precursor to a further rake rise at PokerStars or – as he mentions once again – a further reduction of benefits to winning players. Considering the historic hate for Negreanu, the article won´t be received kindly by the poker community and his words will likely be taken out of context again, but it is worth a read if you have a couple minutes to spare.