The recent announcement by PokerStars to increase the player payout during the 13th edition of the European Poker Tour took a lot of the players by surprise.
The EPT decided to raise the player payout from the existing 15 percent to 20 percent and has confirmed that this will start from the EPT Barcelona event.
Many players have expressed concern that the 20 percent is too high a payout for recreational players and that the concept should have been tested first instead of being rolled out in a major tournament.
Neil Johnson, the Department Head of Live Poker Operations at PokerStars has justified the decision by explaining the company’s decision making process in a recent interview.
Johnson shared that the decision was taken based on extensive survey done over the summer. According to the research conducted, 46 percent of those who participated in EPT Season 12 had played in only one or two events. This defeated the purpose of having hosting around 100 events per stop which was to encourage players to play in as many events as possible.
The team subsequently decided to evaluate the payout structure outside the accepted framework, and found that data from an earlier survey showed the support was equally split between payout options of 10 percent, 12.5 percent and 15 percent. Any choice amongst these three would thus result in 66 percent of players becoming unhappy. Keeping this in mind PokerStars decided to do what was best for the poker economy.
In a statement Johnson said
To keep a healthy poker economy, a solid liquidity for live tournament poker, you need more winners. You need more people able to buy in and play so the fields continue to grow. You don’t want to see a situation where it just stagnates, which happens if there’s not getting new money in
Johnson said that by keeping the payout at 20 percent, they would be giving 5 percent of the field a chance for a do-over. While they may not be making big money, they would be getting back the cash they put in which would encourage them to buy-in to another poker event and see if they could manage a better run. Johnson pointed out that the vast majority of players in such tournaments were online qualifiers from PokerStars and recreational players, and it was a big deal for them to cash in an event.
According to Johnson, the 20 percent payout plan would be in force for the 2016 EPT tours in Barcelona, Prague and Malta and cover around 200 tournaments. He said that this should help the company gauge the impact of the new policy and gather feedback from players.