Strike won’t stop PokerStars VIP Changes

by Jeremy Olson on December 12, 2015

At the beginning of December, a large group of high-volume online poker players joined in a strike against PokerStars. The goal was to show PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming, that pros have a voice and a large influence on traffic. Unfortunately for these pros, the traffic at Stars didn’t take much of a hit and the room doesn’t appear close to reversing the changes.

Eric Hollreiser, Vice President Corporate Communications for Amaya, explained that while they noticed the strike, it wasn’t enough to reverse their decision.

“The recent three-day boycott by some players that disagree with our announced VIP changes did not have a significant impact on PokerStars, as traffic actually spiked through the period as a result of the start of our long-planned holiday promotion,” Hollreiser wrote. “Of course that doesn’t mean it went unnoticed by us. We care very deeply about what players say and what they expect of us. And we strive to live up to their expectations.”

Many high-volume players are angry because they don’t feel PokerStars gave them advanced warning about the Supernova Elite (SNE) level being axed. Specifically, many players believe that Stars violated their own agreement, which states that SNE players are to maintain this status for the current year as well as the following year. Changes were announced with less than two months left in 2015, meaning those who earned SNE status this year won’t enjoy the same privileges in 2016.

“In hindsight, we could have communicated to players more often that significant changes were coming in 2016,” Hollreiser explained. “We could have been more explicit that these changes would be significant and would take effect in 2016. And we could have noted this on our VIP web pages that gave details of the program. There was no intention to deceive and certainly not to profit from this, as an increase in the number of Supernova Elites, who are on average net withdrawing players, does not provide a financial benefit to us. It was simply a function of a long internal process and an honest belief that we had given players sufficient notice.”

While Hollreiser claims that pros were given “warnings” that VIP changes were coming, few high-volume players believe that Stars is in the right here. Nevertheless, PokerStars will continue with the changes as they see fit in hopes of attracting more new players.