Uncertainty Surrounds the Impact of the PokerStars Player Strike

A great deal of uncertainty surrounds the impact the PokerStars player strike of December 1 through December 3 had. Various online media have speculated that the “PokerStars Milestone Promotion” which took place at the same time might have hidden the effects. Others, including Calvin Ayre, believe the protests were well-timed to bring maximum coverage to the way PokerStars operates — and thus was a big success.

More tha 2500 PokerStars customers “went on strike” over a 72-hour period this past weekend. The walkout was planned to show the world’s largest poker site that they were unhappy with the direction the company has taken.

Dani Stern

Dani “Ansky” Stern was the leader of the player strike. He said he did not expect to make much of an impact on revenues. Instead, the demonstration was staged to put the spotlight on PokerStars.

The protests were to show disappointment with new policies that go into effect on January 1, 2016. Amaya Gaming is changing the its VIP program and policies, as well as its promotional marketing to new and old players alike. Third-party software policies are going to change, with heads-up displays (HUDs) would not be allowed to display certain types of data.

Stern’s Post on TwoPlusTwo Thread

Dani Stern asked poker players on the TwoPlusTwo gaming forum to stage a protest. In advocating that course of action, Stern posted on a TwoPlusTwo thread discussing changes in PokerStars policies: “We are organizing a strike/boycott of PokerStars from December 1-3, starting at 12:01 a.m. EST. We ask everyone who values the game of poker at all, recreational or pro, to show their support. We especially ask those who put in high volume on Stars to do so.

He added that the changes would transform the basic nature of online poker gaming. If PokerStars makes changes and they happen without issue, its rivals are likely to impliment similar policies. Stern added, “I truly believe that these changes will bring about devastating effects to the online poker community.

Withdrawing of Funds

The organizers of the protests also asked those who participated to withdraw money from PokerStars as a sign of protest. The strikers did not suggest a particular amount of money. Instead, they asked that players to join in withdrawing “any sum comfortable for you”.

StarsCoin Rewards System

The main reason for the protests is the implimentation of the StarsCoin VIP rewards system. The player rewards system for volume play and loyalty are going to be changed. It is supposed to simplify the system, but it also is meant to limit the rewards for top-tier players. Visibility of the rewards progress is going to be enhanced, allowing players to follow their accumulation of StarsCoins in real time.

Gamblers in major forums like English-language TwoPlusTwo and Russian-language GipsyTeam believe the rewards changes are a shell game to take significant money away from VIP players. The players most-affected are going to be the Supernova and Supernova Elite players (the high rollers), but even the PlatinumStar level of player.

PokerStars Statement

When it announced the changes, PokerStars made a press release which tried to calm any ill feelings among the rank-and-file, mass market gamblers. The statement read: “VIP status players from BronzeStar to GoldStar will continue to be able to receive up to a similar level of rewards to what they receive now. In some cases, players will receive less; in some cases, players will receive more, but it’s very much in the same ballpark.”

Most of the VIP tiers are going to see a reduction in the level of their rewards. One change many players find offensive is a cap on VIP Rewards at 30%. There is good news for those who achieved Supernova Elite status in 2015. For the 2016 calendar year, the VIP Rewards is going to be capped at 45%. This might not please many players, but it is better than the cap for their other tiers in the program.

Long time loyal customers find might find they do not have the incentive for increased play, though PokerStars’ owner Amaya Gaming appears to believe it’s a calculated risk to increase revenues. Amaya Gaming bought the parent company of PokerStars and FullTilt Poker, Rational Media, for $4.9 billion last year. While PokerStars is a huge source of revenue to replay the leveraged debt, the amount of debt such a purchase would require is large for a smaller firm like Amaya Gaming.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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