Infuriated Players To Boycott PokerStars and Full Tilt
Loyal players of PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, are so angered about the coming changes to the VIP programme that they’ve decided to launch a strike. As they declare in theykillpoker.com, players of PokerStars and its sister network Full Tilt are urged to cash out on January 1st, 2016, the day when the new VIP programme springs into action. They plan not to return until the poker giants relent and repeal the VIP changes. It’s still unclear whether this call to action will gather any speed, but PokerStars is already experiencing decreased traffic and its main competitors are rubbing their hands.
A while back, we wrote about the changes that were going to be made to PokerStars’ VIP programme, but we never imagined that it would turn into something as ugly as this. Players who have long benefited and enjoyed the PokerStars’ VIP scheme are planning to boycott the site for as long as needed, until Amaya (the group behind the two sites) agrees to revert back to the old VIP programme.
Players Taking Action
On the Facebook group, the players who support the protest action write:
“Hiding behind the concerns about the future of this game, the PokerStars owners want to cash in on players and increase their multi-million profit even more. Increasing already huge rake will turn poker, an intellectual game which you can beat only with your brain and skill, into a gambling game, a roulette which provides benefit only to the casino. Some will lose their income, some will lose their hobby, and some will lose their dream of becoming a real poker star…”
It is pretty clear that they are rather disappointed with the VIP programme changes that will be implemented at PokerStars next year and are calling all those who are against the changes to boycott PokerStars and Full Tilt from January 1st, 2016.
The protesting players also call into attention the fact that the revenue for Amaya has risen by 10% since last year. Although the financial gains were nearly all thanks to the increased casino revenue, the players are still angry about the apparent greed of the casino network and it trying to benefit from the players even more and perhaps do so unfairly.
PokerStars Loss is Party Poker’s Gain
This strategy of the most active players has already worked, because a decrease in traffic at PokerStars has been observed. Although the VIP changes won’t take place until January 1st, 2016, there has already been a 3.3% decrease in player traffic in the past 10 days. While this certainly isn’t huge or life changing, the fact that competitors have seen increased traffic is quite telling.
Party Poker has already experienced increased online footfall and is most likely very happy about this scandal at its main rival network. In fact, the players who plan to abandon PokerStars and Full Tilt come next year do not intend to go back to the site until the changes are cancelled – that might turn into an extended golden period for Party Poker indeed.
Another recent development has been the fact that after the player boycott was initiated, Amaya’s shares have tumbled. Only time will tell if this is a temporary loss or whether it’s a larger reflection of the uncertainty that awaits Amaya, the group behind PokerStars and Full Tilt.
The Good and the Bad
If you didn’t read our article on the VIP changes at PokerStars, here is a brief summary. Essentially, the loyalty points will be called StarCoins and will only be worth $0.01. Plus, the rewards for all the higher VIP levels will shrink down drastically: Platinum players will experience a 10% loss, Supernova level players will miss out on a quarter of their revenue and Supernova Elites will lose more than half of their cash in loyalty benefits.
Plus, there won’t be any points earned for many of the high stakes games with low buy-ins. And there will be even more change at the PokerStars coming up: there will be restrictions imposed on third party software, citing security reasons. As you can imagine, all of this has got professional players, high rollers and medium stakes players pretty ticked off, because their income will suffer the most.
Yet, the sweeping changes to the VIP programme also have a positive side to it – it will make poker more accessible and lesser skilled players will have a fairer playing field and a more just loyalty rewards system to boot. Yet, the main questions remain to be answered – are those changes indeed desirable and what will they do to the game of online poker?
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