Dec 30, 2015
4 Big Things to arise from 2015 PokerStars Strike
By RTR Dennis
PokerStars has been taking backlash over their decision to reduce VIP benefits for high-volume players. In fact, around 2,500 high-volume grinders joined in a 3-day strike against PokerStars after the site eliminated Supernova Elite status (highest level) and axed high-stakes benefits. Unfortunately for these pros, it doesn't look like their strike has forced Stars to reconsider the VIP changes. But there were four big things to arise from the boycott, which you can read about below.
- Four $1 Million PokerStars Freerolls
One exciting development following the strike is that Stars will hold four $1 million freerolls throughout 2016. This is great for non-pro players because it takes money/rewards from high-volume grinders and distributes it throughout the poker ecosystem. Daniel Negreanu commented on this by writing, "In the end, the result of my discussions with the company is that I can announce that PokerStars has agreed to put $4 million into the ecosystem in 2016 by holding quarterly $1 million freeroll tournaments open to all players."
- PokerStars realized that Pros aren't Critical to their Traffic
A big argument that online pros trotted out before the strike is that they're crucial to starting tables and keeping them going, especially at mid and high stakes. Well, there is some truth to this, but it certainly wasn't evident during the 3-day strike. In fact, PokerStars' traffic actually increased during the boycott thanks to a Milestone Hand promotion that was running at the time. Obviously the promotion helped save traffic to some degree; however, the fact that playing volume increased shows Stars that they might not have much to lose by gouging higher VIP benefits.
- Dani Stern will meet with PokerStars Execs
The driving force behind the PokerStars strike was Dani 'Ansky' Stern, who was very active on TwoPlusTwo leading up to the boycott. And while the results might not have been exactly what Stern had hoped for, at least he'll get some dialogue with PokerStars' higher-ups. Negreanu discussed this by writing, "I spoke with Dani Stern and Isaac Haxton as well as many other top online pros about joining me and the upper management in regularly scheduled meetings ... Communication the last 12-18 months between the players and the company has not been good enough and I think this will go a long way towards improving it."
- We know PokerStars won't just be pocketing VIP Savings
It was commonly thought that PokerStars' parent company, Amaya Gaming, wanted to slash VIP benefits for high-volume players and then pocket the money. However, according to a blog post by Amaya VP Eric Hollreiser, they're putting the extra money towards broader marketing and promotions. "The funds that previously went to these rewards will be placed in more and bigger online promotions, more consumer marketing campaigns to attract new players and research and development of innovative new products and features," Hollreiser wrote.
Little of this will appease pros, who'll lose a big chunk of their earnings due to these changes. However, it at least appears that PokerStars is headed in the right direction as far as bringing more recreational players to the game.