Thank you all for your patience in waiting for this announcement of VIP changes effective January 1, 2012. Details of planned changes in ring game rake are also included below as they may impact players’ playing plans in 2012.

VPP earnings at ring games will be calculated using the ‘weighted contributed’ method, changing from the ‘dealt’ method. The weighted contributed method awards VPPs to each player based on how much they contribute to the pot. You can read more about the weighted contributed calculation on the PokerStars website.

Ring game players will be affected differently by this change depending on their play style. Some players will earn VPPs faster while others will earn them more slowly. The total number of VPPs given out as a result of each hand is the same using the ‘weighted contributed’ and ‘dealt’ calculations.

While each player is different, overall the weighted contributed method will reward players with lower VIP statuses more and players with higher VIP statuses less. In summary this change will make the distribution of VIP Club benefits more balanced, less top heavy toward Supernova+ VIPs. Players earning a higher VIP status will still earn points faster and gain more and better options for redeeming FPPs.

Winner take all (WTA) is another method of awarding VPPs that was suggested by some players. We considered WTA, but decided that weighted contributed is a superior method of allocating VPPs after a thorough evaluation of both options.

The WTA method results in significantly more volatility in player VPP earnings from session to session and day to day. This can make it more difficult for players to plan their play based on expected VPP earnings. Players may also psychologically feel that it is unfair that when taking a bad beat they lose not only the pot but also all VPP earnings for the hand. On a larger scale, players experiencing a session with particularly negative results may not appreciate earning far fewer VPPs than anticipated in addition to losing funds at the tables.

We did review the differences in how the weighted contributed and winner take all methods would award VPPs to players in the long run. While individual players would earn VPPs at different rates due to differing play styles, as a group the members of each VIP level would see no material difference in the number of VPPs earned between the weighted contributed and winner take all methods.

Ring game rake will now be calculated as a true percentage using round half to even rounding. This is a change from the past incremental rake calculations.

The change to true percentage rake will make rake calculation more transparent and intuitive for players. Instead of three rake components (%, increment, and cap) we will have two components (% and cap).

If rake caps and percentages were to remain the same, changing to true percentage rake would result in an increase in rake taken due to the change in rounding. However, we are altering rake percentages downward for all stakes and betting types, reduced from 5% to 4.50% or less. The change to true percentage rake has the most impact on microstakes games. Similarly, the reduction in rake percentages and/or caps is greatest at microstakes games.

As an example, the rake at $0.25/$0.50 NLHE with 6 players dealt in used to be $0.05 for each $1.00 in the pot up to a maximum of $3.00. The new rake for such hands will be 4.5% up to $3.00. The below table shows the old rake and new rake for these types of hands with four different pot sizes:

Rake caps have also been changed, some lowered and some increased, to make them more consistent across different stakes, game types, and currencies.

Rake percentages and caps are being set such that we expect a small overall decrease in site rake assuming that play remains the same. You can see the new rake tables at the bottom of this post.

The rake cap for fixed limit ring game hands dealt to exactly two players has in the past been different depending on whether or not the hand is dealt at a designated heads-up table. Effective January 1st, rake for heads-up play will be consistent across tables at the same stakes with differing numbers of seats.

Caps at Euro currency tables are also being adjusted to more closely match rake on USD currency tables given the current exchange rate between the USD and EUR currencies. Rake percentages at EUR tables will match the percentages at similar USD tables.

VPP Multipliers for Euro Currency tournaments and ring games are being modified based on the current exchange rate between the USD and EUR currencies as follows:

Tournaments and ring games with 7 and fewer seats: 7x

Ring games with 8 or more seats: 8x

PL/NL €0.01/€0.02: 12x

PL/NL €0.02/€0.05: 10x

PL/NL €0.05/€0.10: 8.5x

The number of FPPs per Euro of reward in a standard FPP satellite to a EUR currency tournament will be reduced from 85 to 81, making FPPs used in such tournaments more valuable.

All of the above changes are planned for implementation in the first days of 2012, Eastern (US) Time

PokerStars.be, PokerStars.dk, and PokerStars.ee players who are playing ring games and tournaments shared with PokerStars.com players will be subject to the same rake and tournament fees including the weighted contributed method of awarding ring game VPPs. VPP Multipliers and other VIP Club Rewards will be announced separately for each of these licenses.

We recognize that the annual basis of Supernova+ VIP Status, VIP Stellar Rewards, and Milestone Cash Credits results in many players planning their PokerStars play at the start of each year based on the game conditions and VIP Program rewards at that time. We cannot guarantee that there will not be meaningful VIP Program changes during the year, but every attempt will be made to avoid such midyear changes that could have a significant negative impact on players’ plans.

We do not plan any significant changes to ring games offerings at this time other than the planned addition of a fast moving ring games product sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

Additional 6-player and 9-player hyper turbo Sit & Go Tournaments are still under consideration for deployment in January 2012. Players will be notified in these forums in advance of such additions. Sit & Go offerings will continue to be evaluated periodically throughout the year resulting in changes being made as needed.

**Change from ‘Dealt’ to ‘Weighted Contributed’**VPP earnings at ring games will be calculated using the ‘weighted contributed’ method, changing from the ‘dealt’ method. The weighted contributed method awards VPPs to each player based on how much they contribute to the pot. You can read more about the weighted contributed calculation on the PokerStars website.

Ring game players will be affected differently by this change depending on their play style. Some players will earn VPPs faster while others will earn them more slowly. The total number of VPPs given out as a result of each hand is the same using the ‘weighted contributed’ and ‘dealt’ calculations.

While each player is different, overall the weighted contributed method will reward players with lower VIP statuses more and players with higher VIP statuses less. In summary this change will make the distribution of VIP Club benefits more balanced, less top heavy toward Supernova+ VIPs. Players earning a higher VIP status will still earn points faster and gain more and better options for redeeming FPPs.

*Weighted Contributed vs. Winner Take All*Winner take all (WTA) is another method of awarding VPPs that was suggested by some players. We considered WTA, but decided that weighted contributed is a superior method of allocating VPPs after a thorough evaluation of both options.

The WTA method results in significantly more volatility in player VPP earnings from session to session and day to day. This can make it more difficult for players to plan their play based on expected VPP earnings. Players may also psychologically feel that it is unfair that when taking a bad beat they lose not only the pot but also all VPP earnings for the hand. On a larger scale, players experiencing a session with particularly negative results may not appreciate earning far fewer VPPs than anticipated in addition to losing funds at the tables.

We did review the differences in how the weighted contributed and winner take all methods would award VPPs to players in the long run. While individual players would earn VPPs at different rates due to differing play styles, as a group the members of each VIP level would see no material difference in the number of VPPs earned between the weighted contributed and winner take all methods.

**Changes to Ring Game Rake***Rake Calculation Method*Ring game rake will now be calculated as a true percentage using round half to even rounding. This is a change from the past incremental rake calculations.

The change to true percentage rake will make rake calculation more transparent and intuitive for players. Instead of three rake components (%, increment, and cap) we will have two components (% and cap).

If rake caps and percentages were to remain the same, changing to true percentage rake would result in an increase in rake taken due to the change in rounding. However, we are altering rake percentages downward for all stakes and betting types, reduced from 5% to 4.50% or less. The change to true percentage rake has the most impact on microstakes games. Similarly, the reduction in rake percentages and/or caps is greatest at microstakes games.

As an example, the rake at $0.25/$0.50 NLHE with 6 players dealt in used to be $0.05 for each $1.00 in the pot up to a maximum of $3.00. The new rake for such hands will be 4.5% up to $3.00. The below table shows the old rake and new rake for these types of hands with four different pot sizes:

Rake caps have also been changed, some lowered and some increased, to make them more consistent across different stakes, game types, and currencies.

Rake percentages and caps are being set such that we expect a small overall decrease in site rake assuming that play remains the same. You can see the new rake tables at the bottom of this post.

*Fixed Limit Rake with Two Players Dealt In*The rake cap for fixed limit ring game hands dealt to exactly two players has in the past been different depending on whether or not the hand is dealt at a designated heads-up table. Effective January 1st, rake for heads-up play will be consistent across tables at the same stakes with differing numbers of seats.

*Euro Currency Rake*Caps at Euro currency tables are also being adjusted to more closely match rake on USD currency tables given the current exchange rate between the USD and EUR currencies. Rake percentages at EUR tables will match the percentages at similar USD tables.

**VPP Awarding at Euro Currency Tables**VPP Multipliers for Euro Currency tournaments and ring games are being modified based on the current exchange rate between the USD and EUR currencies as follows:

Tournaments and ring games with 7 and fewer seats: 7x

Ring games with 8 or more seats: 8x

PL/NL €0.01/€0.02: 12x

PL/NL €0.02/€0.05: 10x

PL/NL €0.05/€0.10: 8.5x

The number of FPPs per Euro of reward in a standard FPP satellite to a EUR currency tournament will be reduced from 85 to 81, making FPPs used in such tournaments more valuable.

**Implementation**All of the above changes are planned for implementation in the first days of 2012, Eastern (US) Time

**PokerStars.be, PokerStars.dk, and PokerStars.ee**PokerStars.be, PokerStars.dk, and PokerStars.ee players who are playing ring games and tournaments shared with PokerStars.com players will be subject to the same rake and tournament fees including the weighted contributed method of awarding ring game VPPs. VPP Multipliers and other VIP Club Rewards will be announced separately for each of these licenses.

**Additional Changes**We recognize that the annual basis of Supernova+ VIP Status, VIP Stellar Rewards, and Milestone Cash Credits results in many players planning their PokerStars play at the start of each year based on the game conditions and VIP Program rewards at that time. We cannot guarantee that there will not be meaningful VIP Program changes during the year, but every attempt will be made to avoid such midyear changes that could have a significant negative impact on players’ plans.

We do not plan any significant changes to ring games offerings at this time other than the planned addition of a fast moving ring games product sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

Additional 6-player and 9-player hyper turbo Sit & Go Tournaments are still under consideration for deployment in January 2012. Players will be notified in these forums in advance of such additions. Sit & Go offerings will continue to be evaluated periodically throughout the year resulting in changes being made as needed.

**Rake Tables**