Changes to the PokerStars player rewards system, brought in at the beginning of the year, resulted in boycotts and widespread condemnation from the high-stakes, high volume players who were, ipso facto, its best customers.
Last Friday, the site notified players to expect more of the same, as it seeks to further rebalance the poker ecology toward the recreational player.
PokerStars VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser announced the changes, due sometime in 2017, via the online site’s blog on Friday.
The current rewards system will be scrapped, he explained, and replaced with a system that rewards players across all of its verticals and platforms, from poker to sportsbook and casino.
“Although players won’t have to play any specific platform in order to progress, [they] will receive rewards for many different things, rather than solely being rewarded for playing a lot of poker hands as is the case currently,” explained Hollresier.
The Problem with Poker Skills
While high-stakes, high volume players, as individual customers, might grind the most rake for the online poker site, they are also winning players. Thus, PokerStars is ultimately more interested in attracting net depositors, rather than net withdrawing players. These are players who feed the site’s poker bank with their redeposits, rather than those who tend to hang onto their money in the long term.
The latter group of players felt stung by the changes at the beginning of the year, in particular the decision to pull, at short notice, the Supernova and Supernova Elite rewards for 2016, despite many having begun the process in 2015.
And with the new move to spread the rewards system across all platforms, there’s a good chance it will be similarly unpopular with players who share the view that, pre-Amaya, PokerStars was a “purist” poker site that looked after its most loyal players.
Occasional Players to Benefit
The rewards system will also be overhauled to incentivize recreationals who play only sporadically. Hollreiser explains:
A key challenge with the current rewards system is that player progress resets each month. While that’s great for those that play the most, the vast majority of our players only play intermittently and casually; resetting VIP progress each month can make it a tough rewards system for those players to engage with. So, at some point during 2017, we will make the switch from the current monthly status system to one that is more personalized to your recent gaming activity and player profile.
While this may infuriate many regs, the changes are being made because the last ones worked. Hollreiser says the recreational players who had deserted the game in recent years are now slowly returning. There are, he explains, more players seeing flops, more net depositors, and new players are sticking around for longer, because they are “better enjoying their experience at the tables and want to play again.”