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It appears that PokerStars will be happily moving forward without their top tier players after a boycott against VIP scheme changes failed to achieve momentum. The walk-out planned by some high rollers at PokerStars earlier, which also included suspending play at sister site Full Tilt, did not make PokerStars bosses reconsider their substantial cuts in VIP benefits to the top tier players. The major poker network apologized for lack of clear communication with relation to the VIP changes and also announced four $1 million Freerolls in 2016, perhaps as a way to compensate.
It’s been a tumultuous year for PokerStars: they’ve announced changes to the long-standing VIP programme, they’ve changed gears to target new and casual poker players instead of pros, they’ve endured a high-roller player walk-out and now they’ve announced four new $1 million Freerolls that will take place in 2016!
PokerStars has finally broken their silence about the three day player boycott that took place last week. Both from preliminary data and the stance of PokerStars themselves, it appears that the players failed to gather momentum large enough for PokerStars to reconsider the VIP changes.
Actually, it seems that it might have had an opposite effect, based on the press release published by PokerStars yesterday. First, Eric Hollreiser, VP of corporate communications for the brand, apologized for what had been shabby communication about the VIP changes. After hearing of them, many players actually didn’t think they’d be significant enough to affect them in a major way.
Hollreiser said: “In hindsight, we could have communicated to players more often that significant changes were coming in 2016. But we will not alter those plans. The current VIP program is no longer fit for its purpose. When combined with the increasing skill gap in the online poker market, the result is an increasingly poor experience for recreational and new players.”
Every action has an opposite reaction
Perhaps due to the fact that the boycott was organised over a promotional weekend, PokerStars actually had an increase in traffic despite the boycott and the players were unsuccessful in achieving anything. Actually, it appears to have had the opposite effect of reaffirming the dedication to carry out the VIP changes.
Hollreiser noted that during the boycott, the net-depositing players lost at a lower rate than the remainder of the year. This probably was due to the fact that the pros and the high-rollers had withdrawn from gameplay. He said: “effects from the recent boycott that give us greater confidence that our strategy is on the right track to improve the health of the ecosystem.”
According to him the decreased losses of those recreational players will make their deposits last longer and thus they will play more. In the long run, this means that more money will be deposited into PokerStars, which is brilliant for their business of course.
In fact, he called it “the right foundation to build upon,” so we really don’t envisage them giving in to any possible, future player action either. So can we expect 2016 to be the year when a considerable chunk of pros will leave PokerStars? Time will tell.
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