Following the Italian regulators announcement that cash games are now permitted within the online jurisdiction of Italy, Market leaders, PokerStars.it and iPoker.it, have announced the introduction of cash games to their Italian-only platforms, with many other operators expected to roll out cash games on their Italy only platforms over the coming days and weeks.
Initially, rake will be taken according to the ‘contribution method,’ although, pokerQ4 understands that PokerStars will soon change to the ‘Winner Takes All’ structure i.e. the winner of the pot will assigned all of the rake and hence all of the VPP’s for that hand.
Changes to the current rake structure will be bad news for the Italian grinders and may actually make their volume style of play unviable because it means they will earn far less VPP’s but, it will surely be welcomed by the majority of the poker playing public as a return to the ‘old school’, where professional players actually had to win to make a living.
Discouraging grinders is a positive move for both the online poker industry and players alike, a move that, commercially-speaking, only PokerStars as market leaders could have really done, and making for a much healthier poker ecology long-term as well as opening the floor for other operators to follow suit.
Since closing its doors to the outside world in late 2008/early 2009, the Italian online poker market has grown rapidly and has quickly established itself as the biggest regulated gaming market in the world, with PokerStars’ Italian platform being the 5th largest poker room overall according to PokerSiteScout, outperforming established international networks such as Microgaming and Entraction by some way.
Some industry experts have said that the Italian market is far from mature and we can expect to see further significant growth over the next few years, especially as players from all over the world clamour to get into what will be the softest cash games on the net once the WTA rake structure in implemented. The majority of this growth is expected to come from PokerStars.it and iPoker.it as they consolidate their positions as the Italian ‘Big Two,’ however; there are also whispers that the ENET Poker Network is one to keep an eye on. Officially, players residing outside of Italy are unable to play on the PokerStars, iPoker or ENET platforms, or any other Italian platform for that matter, however, it is possible to sign-up through an agent or an affiliate.