Highstakes PLO Players Boycott GGPoker Cash Games En Masse Due To Rake Controversy

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Highstakes PLO Players Boycott GGPoker Cash Games En Masse Due To Rake Controversy

Last updated: 2/18/2024

By: Michael Lee

Over the past few weeks, highstakes Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) players on the GGPoker Network have cooperated in forming a boycott of any PLO cash game higher than $25/50 on the platform due to "unsustainable rake increases". Historically, players of the No-Limit Holdem variant have successfully made GGPoker rollback announced rake increases through the use of a similar boycott.

It appears that PLO players on the site are now seeking the same result, as growing concerns have been made about how GGPoker has had significantly higher fees in comparison to their competitors in PokerStars and PartyPoker.

In this post we'll be taking a deep dive into the history of GGPoker's rake increases, and the growing animosity of high stakes players against the platform. Additionally, we'll be providing an overview of prerequisite knowledge needed to fully understand the implications of these changes on the player pool at large.

What Is Rake And How Does This Impact Players?

Before we can fully understand the implications behind these changes, we need to delve deeper into what rake exactly is and how it truly impacts a player's ability to be profitable on an online poker site.

Rake is a fee that poker rooms charge to players for the privilege of playing on their platform. It's the main method that poker rooms use to generate revenue and cover operating costs.

Rake is taken differently based on whether you're playing cash games or tournaments.

Infographic explaining the difference between how rake is taken in cash games vs tournament poker.

As illustrated in the infographic above, rake in cash games are taken as a percentage of each pot played, whereas in tournaments the rake is taken out of the initial buy-in each player pays as as an entrance fee into the event.

On top of these game-type differences, the amount of rake a player pays to a poker room is different for each stake level. As a general rule of thumb across both cash games and tournaments, lower stakes tables will pay a higher proportion of their buy-in or cash game pot than at high stakes tables.

This makes a lot of sense, given that 5% of $100 will yield a smaller profit than 1% of $10,000 to a poker room.

Infographic illustrating the difference between rake structure in low stakes online poker to high stakes online poker cash games.Data Source: Primedope Online Poker Rake Comparison Calculator

The above graphic illustrates this difference in the proportion of rake paid between low stakes and high stakes cash games.

At a $0.25/0.50 PLO 6-max cash game, players typically are paying 6.60 Big Blinds to 9.01 Big Blinds every 100 hands that they play. This equates to $3.30-$4.51 in rake paid per 100 hands.

At a $25/50 PLO 6-max cash game, players typically are paying 0.44 Big Blinds to 2.55 Big Blinds every 100 hands which equates to $22.11-$127.40 in rake paid per 100 hands.

Essentially, before a player can be profitable they must have a win-rate that's higher than what they are losing to the site's rake.

For example, a $0.25/0.50 PLO cash game player on PokerStars will have to beat the game post-rakeback for 7.18BB/100 before they achieve profitability.

If you look at the very bottom right of the graphic, you'll notice that GGPoker in highstakes PLO cash games stands out as the worst rake structure out of all of their competitors charging a whopping 5.45BB/100 ($272.52 per 100 hands).

The difference is not negligible, as their nearest competitor charges nearly 50% less in fees.

This is the problem that highstakes PLO cash game players are beginning to boycott over.

The Beginning Of The Boycott

Image of the TwoPlusTwo thread of PLO players beginning to boycott GGPoker.

On September 24, 2023 at 9:24PM PST, a user by the name of "PLOUnionRep" posted a thread on the poker forum TwoPlusTwo declaring an official boycott of all highstakes PLO cash games above $25/50 on the GGPoker Network.

The thread details previous efforts by the player base to reach out to GGPoker representatives, which have all ultimately failed and resulted in no changes to the rake structure.

This boycott impacts both highstakes 4-card PLO as well as the 5-card variant. Virtually every regular player at these stakes on the GGPoker Network have agreed to this boycott in consensus, as the post outlines that they only have "a few remaining regs" who still need to be reached out to.

Player concerns were made clear regarding the toxic environment that such a high rake structure can cause:

"The rake on GGPoker is unsustainably high given the large variance intrinsic to PLO. It encourages a toxic bumhunting culture on the site which doesn’t allow for any reg battles. With our boycott, starting today, we wish to communicate our concerns with GGPoker and significantly reduce HU, 3-handed and full table rake."

Essentially, the game was widely considered as unbeatable unless there was at least one VIP player at the table who was losing at a minimum of 30BB/100. Games were breaking despite there being a VIP player at the table simply because they were playing "a bit too tight".

"We’ve even seen tables break around VIPs who were playing a bit too tight. A VIP needs to be losing at least 30bb/100 to make a game breakeven and regs will now quickly realize when this isn’t the case. As such we believe GG is cutting into their own profits by pricing the rake so high."

The community response, while largely supportive of the boycott, was relatively mixed on how effective this would be.

Many questioned whether or not GGPoker would care enough to make any real changes to the rake structure within these games, while others noted how similar boycotts were successful and led to GGPoker rolling back previous rake hikes at No-Limit Holdem tables.

TwoPlusTwo thread replies of debate on how effective the PLO GGPoker boycott would be.

In general, players felt that the insanely high rake structure was against the spirit of the game. If the game is nearly unbeatable in theory, the fee structure must be adjusted to allow for the possibility of winning players.

As stated by a user's reply to the thread, "Poker is defined as a +EV game".

Official Statement From PLO Union Representative

Picture of GGPoker's client showing the VIP lobby of high stakes cash games.

The original poster of the TwoPlusTwo thread which initially announced the boycott reached out to us via email to add clarity to the situation occurring.

Filip, the representative of the PLO Players Union on the GGPoker Network provided the following statement:

"The value of VIP games need to be accurately measured."

"Gambling sites at the end of the day are trying to make money and poker is terrible at generating revenue. GGPoker claims that they make almost no money on VIP tables because the cost to get VIPs to the site and retain them is very high." 

"However, we believe that the value that VIP tables bring to the platform is significantly more than just purely the rake that is generated at the VIP tables."

"VIPs at the end of the day like to play some poker and they like to play poker vs the most exciting well known regulars. This lures them to the site and the platform. Once they are there, they suddenly start to see some other formats; Spin & Go's, All-In Or Fold, and the most important of them all- casino games."

The argument provided is essentially stating that the value of highstakes cash game players is higher than just the rake they generate at the table. Highstakes players are more likely to venture into GGPoker's other offerings that produce higher revenues, such as their casino games and slots.

When asked what the PLO Players Union hopes to achieve from this boycott was mentioned in the following statement from the same representative:

"We want to see a similar rake structure between NL and PLO. That's what we are aiming for."

The current rake structure found in highstakes No-Limit Holdem cash games on GGPoker are the following:

NLH Stakes

Rake Cap

BB Rake Cap
















However, as admitted in the statement, the real new rake structure that remains after this boycott will ultimately be up to what results of negotiations between the PLO Players Union and GGPoker.

History Of Boycotts On The GGPoker Network

GGPoker is no newcomer when it comes to the presence of boycotts on their platform.

Back in April 3, 2023, ninety-percent of the highest volume No Limit-Holdem players orchestrated a similar boycott for all cash games $25/50 and higher. This was in response to the rake (fee) structure nearly doubling upon announced changes to GGPoker:

The biggest notable thing regarding this change, was that even prior to the announcement, GGPoker had by far the worst rake structure at highstakes NLH cash games to begin with. Expectedly, this caused outrage among the platform's most loyal users and led into a full-contact boycott of all highstakes NLH action on the site.

Following the boycott, GGPoker's competitors such as PokerStars and Americas Cardroom saw large increases in volume as players moved away from their platform. It was clear at this point that GGPoker's attempt to increase revenues had backfired, leading to a loss of nearly all revenue generated from their highest stakes NLH cash games.

Only 2 weeks later on April 17, 2023, GGPoker announced a rollback of their announced changes to the rake structure.

A deal was made between the highstakes community and GGPoker to rollback nearly 90% of the announced changes.

This marked the first ever successful player-led boycott which led to real changes being made on the most popular poker site in the world.

Notable names such as Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier contributed to the movement by speaking out on social media against GGPoker's announced changes, liberating other other notable names in the industry to showing their support.

Concluding Thoughts

The big question now is, what's next?

Influential names in the industry must show public support against the regressive measures GGPoker have taken against their own players to maximize the chances that real changes get made.

As of August 2022, GGPoker dominated the global regulated online poker market with a commanding 45.6% market share. To sustain the growth driven by their dedicated playerbase, it's imperative for GGPoker to establish a mutually beneficial understanding with the key contributors to the platform's success.

As demonstrated by past successful boycotts, GGPoker is compelled to address the concerns of its shareholders for lost revenues and will ultimately be forced to comment on the discontent within its community.

Ultimately, without players, there won't be any activity on the site.

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