On January 1, 2016, the PokerStars VIP Club was abruptly altered in such a way that high-stakes online poker players – the pro and semi-pro variety – got a lot less bang for their buck. The company’s transition to accommodating recreational players was not taken well by the higher status tiers, and chances are they’ll be livid again when yet more changes take place in 2017.
On Friday, September 9, Eric Hollreiser, VP of Corporate Communications for PokerStars and its parent, Amaya Gaming, published a piece on the corporate blog indicating more changes to the PokerStars VIP Club. No specific details have been given, and even the timeline for the change was vaguely scheduled for “sometime in 2017”.
Hollreiser let it be known that, for all intents and purposes, the existing VIP rewards system will be scrapped entirely, to be replaced by a new scheme that is presently in the works.
New PokerStars VIP Club
Again, there were no specific details given as to what the new VIP Club will look like, but Hollreiser did unveil a few scraps of information worth noting.
He noted that the current loyalty program offers “rewards centered around monthly and annual statuses” with players “solely being rewarded for playing a lot of poker hands”. Conversely, he clarified that the new program will provide all players with a “combined rewards program for poker, casino and sportsbook”.
He went on to say, “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.” Thus PokerStars will no longer reset VIP progress monthly.
He went on to warn that the traditionally annual Supernova status (now the highest possible tier since Supernova Elite was extinguished at the start of 2016) “will become a monthly status until the launch of the new rewards program. Anyone who achieves Supernova in 2016 will retain their status until such time as the new program is implemented.
“The value of monthly VIP rewards and VPP requirements for all statuses in 2017 is still subject to change. When our new reward program is deployed all players will receive rewards according to that new system,” he said.
So, once more, PokerStars is going to be taking away from its high-volume online poker grinders to provide a more attractive environment for casual players.
Why All the Changes?
Hollreiser shed light on that subject, as well, but its doubtful any of their professional online poker players will appreciate the sentiment. He wrote that last year’s changes were geared towards improving “the overall poker ecology”, and that those efforts were largely successfully.
“We’ve seen improvement in the key areas that we targeted. Players are getting more bang for their buck, which we can see in a number of ways: more players are seeing a flop, recreational players are depositing more, and new players are playing more (i.e. players are better enjoying their experience at the tables and want to play again),” said Hollreiser.
“That’s why we’re making more changes in 2017 to continue to bring a more enjoyable and more compelling experience for our players,” elucidated the brand’s VP.
Early Notice To Placate VIPs
Lastly, Hollreiser stated that his intentions in publishing the first mention of yet more changes to the PokerStars VIP Club – without providing the meat and potatoes of the upcoming alterations – was to prevent a repeat of last year’s heated response.
PokerStars waited until the last minute to tell players of the changes coming in 2016, and the online poker community – especially the high-stakes, heavy-volume players – were beyond angry about it.
This time, Hollreiser said, “We have sent an email to all Supernova status players and all players who have earned at least 45,000 VPPs in 2016 to inform them of these upcoming changes.”
It’s not yet known when the full details of the upcoming changes will be released, as Hollreiser himself said he doesn’t know exactly what they will be yet. “These details will be informed by further careful analysis in coming months,” he explained, while promising to “share what we can, when we can.”