Apr 23, 2017
Details Emerge on PokerStars 2017 VIP Changes
By RTR Dennis
Not long ago, PokerStars players learned that the world's largest poker site will roll out changes to their VIP program for the third year in a row. As Séverin Rasset revealed on his corporate blog, rewards will be given out on a daily basis (rather than monthly), and StarsCoin will become the universal reward currency across casino, poker, and sports betting verticals.
All of this sounds fine, but what high-volume players are worried about is another reduction on the rewards they earn. This is especially a fear when considering that Rasset wrote the following:
“The changes being implemented by PokerStars means that its reward will more closely resemble the programs being offered by its competitors in which volume is just one factor used to determine what bonuses a player receives. Other actions that will also help accrue rewards for its customers include stakes and games played, as well as how much they deposit.”
In other words, multi-tabling pros will take a backseat as Stars looks to dish out more rewards to recreational players. And now, we have some updates to offer on the VIP program changes, which take place in June 2017. This being said, let's take a closer look at what to expect when PokerStars changes things around.
Single Sessions to Have Bigger Impact on Rewards
Rather than the 'volume-driven' program that's been used in the past, PokerStars will switch to offering more random rewards. If you've played at PokerStars, you probably know that the rewards currently center on your monthly volume. And while this has helped some pros make a living through grinding multiple tables for rakeback, Stars wants to ensure that low-volume players also get plenty of rewards.
The exact format of rewards distribution hasn't been released, but single sessions will have a larger impact on the benefits you receive. Additionally, players can look forward to randomized rewards, as opposed to the model of getting guaranteed perks for playing X amount of rake.
High-Volume Players to Receive as Much as 85% Less
Some pros have shared emails they received from PokerStars, explaining how their "rewards are likely to be significantly decreased under the new program.”
And the impact is significant, with these emails explaining the “fundamental shift” in the VIP plan will, “in the most extreme cases,” give high-volume grinders 85% less benefits than they currently receive.
But how is this possible? Members of Supernova - the highest level in PokerStars' VIP program - currently earn 28% rakeback. However, mass multi-tablers have been warned that this amount could drop to 4.5% if they don't adjust their playing style.
How will Rewards be Determined Moving Forward?
While volume will still be a factor in determining how many benefits players receive, the revamped VIP program will also account for stakes, frequency of sessions, and how often players deposit.
The latter is key because high-volume pros rarely, if ever, make deposits. Meanwhile, recreational players often reload their accounts because they're not winning long-term players. Rasset alluded to this in his email with the following excerpt:
“Poker is a game of wits with players competing against each other for fun, for competition and for profit. Our goal in managing poker is always to maintain that delicate balance and deliver the best possible playing experience while doing so. Since 2006, our loyalty program has encouraged volume rather than competition. It has been a tremendous success and was the right approach for many years. However, the environment has changed. The game has matured; the profile of our players has changed."
VIP Changes Start with Denmark in May
As covered earlier, PokerStars' VIP changes will take effect for the majority of players by June of this year. However, Danish players will be the first to experience the changes since this will happen in May. Also, some countries may see their VIP programs altered later than June. The overall goal is to have all of the changes implemented for players worldwide by the end of the summer.
Amaya Wants to Keep Up with Industry, Promote Casino & Sportsbook
As many of us know, the online poker economy has declined since the early 2010s. This decline has gradually continued into 2017, which is why PokerStars' parent company, Amaya, has made several alterations to rewards in the past few years.
Additionally, they also want to ensure that their online casino and sportsbook are being properly promoted. By making StarsCoin the universal rewards currency for casino, poker, and sports betting, they're taking a step in the right direction.
Promotions Continually Aimed Towards Recreational Players
Last year marked a big step towards PokerStars modeling their promotions around recreational players, rather than those who put in the most volume. This means more promos revolving around live poker packages, Team SportStars, and Spin & Go's. PokerStars also got rid of their Supernova Elite VIP tier and capped rakeback at 30%.
Another major move by Stars included dropping 'Milestone' rewards in favor of promos like Million Dollar Freerolls for new depositors. Don't expect any changes in this direction because Stars will press forward with more recreational-friendly promos later this year.
Competition and Fun Emphasized Above All
Again, online poker isn't where it was a decade ago, or even 5 years ago. And given that Amaya is a business, they're trying to move with the industry and do anything they can to keep recreational/depositing players happy.
This means getting back to a system that ensures high-volume players will actually compete on the tables, rather than trying to break even on as many tables as possible. It also means giving customers more rewards when they play at Stars Casino and BetStars.
Obviously these aren't popular moves for those who just want to focus on earning as much rakeback as possible. But it's also the way that the online gaming world is moving.