Since Amaya’s acquisition of Rational Group in 2014 it has become apparent that even an industry behemoth such as PokerStars is not immune to the global poker market’s decline.

While focus may be pulled away from the core product by PokerStars’ expansion into sports betting and casino, and almost-constant M&A speculation, the operator has quietly and carefully made excellent progress in revitalising poker.

The launch of new game formats such as Beat the Clock and Knockout Poker, coupled with an overhauled VIP programme and rake structure, helps PokerStars appeal to casual players.

Recreational players have become the top target for poker operators, and PokerStars has done more than any other company to bring them in. The restorative effect of these efforts is only just starting to show, but with a foothold in the US as well, the operator is more than deserving of retaining its crown.

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