In fact, to celebrate, it has increased the guarantees on prize pools for many of its scheduled tournaments and slashed the rake on Omaha cash games (200PL and up) from five percent to two-and-a-half percent.
Around 2,500 high-volume and high-stakes players had pledged to join the PokerStars boycott from December 1 – 3 in protest at proposed changes to the player rewards system, and 888’s PLO rake adjustment is designed to appeal to exactly this kind of player.
PokerStars gave little warning when it announced the sweeping changes to the system, which are due to take effect come January 1st. The site said the changes were designed to simplify the rewards program and to benefit the “vast majority” of players through the introduction of a new VIP steps program and the replacement of the variable FFP currency with a constant value, to be known as StarsCoin.
The new system is weighted in favor of recreational players who have abandoned online poker in recent years, and is just one of a number of shifts PokerStars is implementing in an effort to win them back.
Meanwhile, players at the top of the tree will feel the pinch, with current Supernova Elite, Supernova, and Platinum Star players likely to be impacted detrimentally.
While these players represent a small percentage, they are, as high-volume, high-stakes players, PokerStars’ best customers by definition. Thus, many feel betrayed by the site’s new owner Amaya, which, they argue cares only for its bottom line.
They also question whether the changes will be effective and whether the hordes of returning recreational players will ever materialize.
Winter of Discontent
The seeds of discontent were sown among the Russian high-stakes community, which first suggested a boycott, before being taken up by the twoplustwo forums.
“This is a demonstration of force and an effort to show PokerStars that we are a body of players, not just individuals,” Dani “Ansty” Stern, who has become an unofficial spokesperson for the movement, told PocketFives.
“While PokerStars claims the changes are to provide relief to recreational players, there is no such change happening.
“They are telling their players outright lies and we will not stand for it. Beyond that, it follows an ongoing trend that PokerStars/Amaya has been taking in recent years. A site that was once clearly for the players has completely lost sight of that,”he added.
Stern then publicly praised 888poker on Twitter this week.
The boycott began on Tuesday December 1st, and is due to end at midnight tonight. In the meantime, 888poker is doing its utmost to rake in the disgruntled.