Last week’s PokerStars meeting between Amaya and a delegation of poker players representing the interests of the site’s high-stakes, high-volume customers, ultimately proved fruitless, the players said over the weekend.
Players Dani Stern, Ike Haxton, and Daniel Dvores released an official statement on Saturday via the TwoPlusTwo forums, although the trio were muzzled by a non-disclosure agreement, which meant they could not discuss in detail crucial data that had been presented to them at the Amaya HQ-based meeting last week.
The players were invited to Amaya’s Montreal headquarters largely to discuss recent changes to the PokerStars VIP program, including the denial of rewards that had been promised in 2015 to Supernova (SN) and Supernova Elite (SNE) players this year.
Representing PokerStars and Amaya at the eight-hour meeting were Amaya VP of Operations Shawn Nikolaev, PokerStars and Amaya VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars Head of Poker Room Mgt. Severin Rasset, and Baard Dahl, also from PokerStars poker room management division.
Also present was PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu at whose behest the meeting had been arranged, while Amaya CEO David Baazov made a “brief appearance,” the players said.
Speaking last week in an interview with CalvinAyre.com, Negreanu said the meeting had been “productive,” although the players’ account of the talks appears to disagree with this assessment.
In their statement, which was posted via Stern’s TwoPlusTwo account, but signed by all three players, it was emphasized to Amaya that the decision to pull SN and SNE rewards for 2016 at short notice was not a “miscommunication,” as had been suggested, but an “ongoing breach of trust,” and one that it was not too late to make it right.
“Although the PokerStars and Amaya representatives were apologetic and expressed regret at the impact that the decision has had on players’ perception of the brand, we did not make any real progress on this point,” read the statement.
“They denied having any firm obligation to give 2015 SNs and SNEs the rewards they were promised and asserted that they did not feel that doing so would be in the best interests of their business.”
Moreover, the trio said in their statement that data presented to show how the changes would impact the player ecology and the playing experience were “unconvincing.”
“They did not offer any evidence to support the (rather counter-intuitive) claim that taking more money out of the games would produce a benefit for any players,” the statement continued. “In fact, the only mechanism by which they even suggested that might be true was that it would free up additional money for Stars to devote to other initiatives such as advertising, R&D and player retention.”
The players said they also discussed ideas for managing rake pricing at high stakes in a way that could “increase revenue while presenting less of a deterrent to pros playing against each other and starting games.” Amaya representatives appeared uninterested in these ideas, the players said.
“We deeply regret that we are not bringing back any good news for the players,” concludes the statement. “We tried our best to present both practical and ethical arguments against the SN/SNE cuts, but PokerStars is not willing to reconsider any of the changes.”