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German Players Facing Tough New Online Poker Restrictions

Germany Poker

Poker players living in Germany are preparing themselves for some sweeping changes to how they play at PokerStars. Significant changes come into play from July 1, including a substantial rake hike, restrictions on the number of tables played, and a limit on the stakes available.

The changes revolve around what the German government calls Glücksspielneuregulierungsstaatsvertrag, which translates to the State Treaty on Gambling Reform. The new law sees PokerStars pay a 5.3% tax on turnover, which means buy-in in online poker circles. This new tax means PokerStars is on the hook for $5.30 if a player buys into a cash game for $100 and plays even a single hand.

Whereas Unibet Poker is considering ceasing all cash games, sit & go tournaments, and its loyalty program for Germans, PokerStars is implementing several changes so it can continue offering its services to German residents.

Former PokerNews Senior Editor Mo Muwwarah penned an article in October 2020 highlighting some of the changes German players face. They include:

With the July 1, 2021 date looming, an article has appeared on the PokerStars Blog detailing the major changes to cash games, rake, StarsRewards, and more.

Online Poker in Germany Upended By New Legislation


Cash Game Changes

Cash Game Stakes Reduced

PokerStars states it is no longer viable for the site to offer high-stakes cash games due to the new 5.3% turnover tax. This means from July 1, 2021, players residing in Germany can only play the following games:

Pool Block

In addition to removing higher stakes cash games, German players will be forced to play a predetermined number of hands whenever they sit at a cash game table. A "Pool Block" system has been part of PokerStars' 6+ Hold 'em games for some time. The system prevents players from playing very short sessions at the cash games tables.

When the Pool Block system is triggered, players cannot leave the table without triggering a time penalty, which prevents them from re-joining cash games. Germans will find the Pool Block system in place across all cash games from June 30, 2021.

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Cash Game Rake Changes

PokerStars is increasing the rake German players pay in its cash games by up to 35%. A rake increase of approximately 25% is in place for most No-Limit and Pot-Limit cash games, with an approximate 35% increase levied on Fixed Limit games. There are currently no plans to alter the rake taken from 6+ Hold 'em.

Germany players remain in the shared liquidity pool, but their rake is significantly higher. The rake is calculated upon completing a cash game hand and has no bearing on non-German players. You will notice German players pay more rake than you if you are involved in a chopped pot, for example.

Check out the new rake schedule for the various cash games here.

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Tournament Poker Changes

Spin & Go and Sit & Go

German Spin & Go players can no longer enter games with a buy-in of more than $50. Furthermore, there are several changes for Germans who grind sit & go tournaments.

First, heads-up sit & go (HUSNG) and most sit & go satellites become unavailable to German residents. Several Hyper-Turbo Sit & Go's will be removed from the lobby, also. However, PokerStars says the vast majority of Turbo, and Regular Speed sit & go games will still be available.

Multi-table players will be pleased to learn that no changes are planned for PokerStars' scheduled tournaments or its Grand Tour product.

PokerStars Revamps its Stars Rewards Program


Stars Rewards Changes

The number of rewards points earned by German players is reducing. Currently, Germans receive 45 reward points for every $1 paid in scheduled tournament fees, and 100 reward points for every $1 spent on Zoom or cash game rake, and in all other tournament fees.

This changes from mid-July, although no concrete date is set. The rate for reward points from scheduled tournaments remains at 45 per $1 paid in fees but drops to 80 reward points per $1 spent on Zoom and cash game rake or all other forms of tournament poker.

The reduction in reward points is also in place for games played in British Pounds, Euros, and Canadian Dollars.


Payment and Withdrawal Changes

From July 1, 2021, German players must send documents to PokerStars to verify their identity before making a deposit or a withdrawal for each new method.

PokerStars encourages German players to send their verification documents via their Cashier at the earliest convenience. There is likely to be an influx of players sending in documents for verification, meaning deposits and withdrawals could be delayed.


PokerStars Vegas Changes

It is not only online poker that the new German tax hike affects; the PokerStars Vegas offering is also impacted. Some games will become unavailable for Germans from July 1, 2021. PokerStars has not listed the games and products being removed but has said it is working with game providers to develop a solution.

These significant changes only affect German players residing in Germany. Germans who live outside of Germany, of which there are many, continue as they were before the law comes into place.


Details of All Cash Game Changes

US Dollar Ring Games

No Limit and Pot Limit*

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
$0.01/$0.024.375%$0.39$0.39$0.39
$0.02/$0.055.1875%$0.63$0.63$1.26
$0.05/$0.10 to $0.08/$0.165.625%$0.63$1.26$1.89
$0.10/$0.255.625%$0.63$1.26$2.51
$0.25/$0.506.25%$0.95$0.95$2.51
$0.50/$16.25%$1.26$1.26$3.13
$1/$26.25%$1.57$1.57$3.45

*Excluding No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo Micro Stakes

No Limit, Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo Micro Stakes

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
$0.01/$0.024.125%$0.39$0.39$0.39
$0.02/$0.054.875%$0.63$0.63$1.26
$0.05/$0.105.3125%$0.63$1.26$1.89
$0.10/$0.255.3125%$0.63$1.26$2.51

Fixed Limit

Stakes2 Player % / Cap3-4 Player % / Cap5+ Player % / Cap
$0.02/$0.044.5% / $0.014.5% / $0.014.5% / $0.01
$0.04/$0.08 to $0.05/$0.106.075% / $0.066.075% / $0.066.075% / $0.06
$0.10/$0.206.075% / $0.156.075% / $0.156.075% / $0.15
$0.25/$0.506.075% / $0.236.075% / $0.236.075% / $0.23
$0.50/$16.075% / $0.556.075% / $0.556.075% / $0.55
$1/$22.70% / $0.694.05% / $0.955.40% / $1.09
$2/$42.70% / $0.694.05% / $0.954.05% / $1.70
$3/$62.70% / $0.694.05% / $2.714.05% / $4.06

Euro Games

No Limit and Pot Limit*

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
€0.01/€0.024.375%€0.32€0.32€0.32
€0.02/€0.055.1875%€0.63€0.63€0.95
€0.05/€0.105.625%€0.63€0.95€1.57
€0.10/€0.255.625%€0.63€0.95€1.89
€0.25/€0.506.25%€0.89€0.89€2.26
€0.50/€16.25%€1.13€1.13€2.82
€1/€26.25%€1.45€1.45€3.13

*Excluding No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo Micro Stakes

No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo Micro Stakes

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
€0.01/€0.024.125%€0.32€0.32€0.32
€0.02/€0.054.875%€0.63€0.63€0.95
€0.05/€0.105.3125%€0.63€0.95€1.57
€0.10/€0.255.3125%€0.63€0.95€1.89

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PokerStars Tempest Hold 'em

Buy-InBlindsAnte% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
$0.50-$1$0.02/0.05/0.10$0.01/0.02/0.03/0.044.50%$0.50$1.00$1.50
$1-$2$0.05/0.10/0.20$0.02/0.04/0.06/0.085.00%$0.50$1.00$2.00
$2.50-$5$0.10/0.25/0.50$0.05/0.10/0.15/0.205.00%$1.00$1.00$2.50
$5-$10$0.25/0.50/1.00$0.10/0.20/0.30/0.405.00%$1.25$1.25$2.75
$10-$20$0.50/1.00/2.00$0.20/0.40/0.60/0.805.00%$1.50$1.50$3.50
$25-$50$1.00/2.50/5.00$0.50/1.00/1.50/2.005.00%$2.00$2.00$4.50

Swap Hold 'em

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
$0.01/$0.024.375%$ 0.39$ 0.39$ 0.39
$0.02/$0.055.1875%$ 0.63$ 0.63$ 1.26
$0.05/$0.105.625 %$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 1.89
$0.10/$0.256.25 %$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 2.51
$0.25/$0.506.25 %$ 1.26$ 1.26$ 3.13
$0.50/$16.25 %$ 1.57$ 1.57$ 3.45
$1/$26.25 %$ 1.89$ 1.89$ 4.39

PokerStars Fusion

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
$0.01/$0.024.375%$ 0.39$ 0.39$ 0.39
$0.02/$0.055.1875%$ 0.63$ 0.63$ 1.26
$0.05/$0.105.625%$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 1.89
$0.10/$0.256.25%$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 2.51
$0.25/$0.506.25%$ 1.26$ 1.26$ 3.13
$0.50/$16.25%$ 1.57$ 1.57$ 3.45
$1/$26.25%$ 1.89$ 1.89$ 4.39

Split Hold’em

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
$0.01/$0.024.375 %$ 0.39$ 0.39$ 0.39
$0.02/$0.055.1875 %$ 0.63$ 0.63$ 1.26
$0.05/$0.105.625 %$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 1.89
$0.10/$0.255.625 %$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 2.51
$0.25/$0.506.25 %$ 0.95$ 0.95$ 2.51
$0.50/$16.25 %$ 1.26$ 1.26$ 3.13
$1/$26.25 %$ 1.57$ 1.57$ 3.45

Showtime Hold’em

Stakes% Rake2 Player Cap3-4 Player Cap5+ Player Cap
$0.01/$0.024.375 %$ 0.39$ 0.39$ 0.39
$0.02/$0.055.1875 %$ 0.63$ 0.63$ 1.26
$0.05/$0.105.625 %$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 1.89
$0.10/$0.255.625 %$ 0.63$ 1.26$ 2.51
$0.25/$0.506.25 %$ 0.95$ 0.95$ 2.51
$0.50/$16.25 %$ 1.26$ 1.26$ 3.13
$1/$26.25 %$ 1.57$ 1.57$ 3.45

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