PokerStars India has taken a step backward in order to go forward as it battles to become the country’s leading online poker operator.
The new Stars Rewards system went live last week and replaces randomized prizes with fixed-value bonuses.
In addition to introducing fixed rewards, each milestone marker will be worth more than before. In essence, the changes make Stars Rewards India less nuanced and easier to understand.
Under the new system, players will earn one loyalty point for every ₹1/$0.013 paid in tournament fees and rake. The number of points required to earn a chest will be personalized to each player.
PokerStars doesn’t provide the exact formula for how points requirements are calculated, however, factors such as recent activity, net deposits, and game selection all impact how many points a player will need to earn a chest.
Like the old system, there are six chests in total. Unlike the old system, the rewards in each have a set value. At this time, the changes only apply in India. Elsewhere in the world, rewards have a random value.
The decision to move away from random rewards is a step toward a more traditional type of loyalty scheme. Although it’s not a full return to how PokerStars used to reward loyalty, it’s a move in that direction.
The implication is that PokerStars India is simplifying its system in order to satisfy local dynamics. India’s online poker market is less mature than the markets in other regions. As such, the average player is less familiar with the subtilities of rake and loyalty rewards.
Old Reward System Gone but Not Forgotten
Before introducing Stars Rewards in 2017, PokerStars rewarded loyalty with points. Real-money players earned points and moved through a series of levels that topped out at Supernova Elite.
At each level, players unlocked rewards and the ability to earn Frequent Player Points (FPPs) at a faster rate. These points could then be used to buy things from the Stars Store or traded for cash (rakeback).
That system was regarded as one of the industry’s best. However, changes were gradually introduced in 2015. This led to an organized protest by some regulars. Despite the backlash, PokerStars continued to phase out the old system.
Things eventually changed for good in 2017 when Stars Rewards was introduced. The VIP hierarchy was removed and rakeback was replaced with mystery prizes.
Stars Rewards Simplified
Even for seasoned players, Stars Rewards were confusing at first. What’s more, a 2017 Reddit thread revealed a level of discontent among some customers.
Trendkill14: Stars gotta do a better job of explaining things. Now I gotta read smh.
Perfectlyhonestnzz: GG to PokerStars. If they really take away rakeback through sheer volume, that is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” reads the Reddit thread.
Although Stars Rewards have been refined over the last three years, random rewards still create a sense of uncertainty. In regions where online poker is still a relatively new phenomenon, uncertainty is a problem.
India is an emerging poker economy and PokerStars isn’t the market leader. Making the system easier to understand is a play designed to attract casual consumers. Moreover, it’s a statement of intent.
As India’s online poker industry grows, PokerStars is fighting to become the go-to brand, and simplifying Stars Rewards is its latest tactic.