PokerStars is making some major changes to its VIP program with extremely high-volume grinders set to take a hit.
The company announced the changes, which are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, over the weekend.
According to the corporate blog the changes were made to “enhance the playing experience and to re-emphasize the fun and social aspects of online poker while attracting and retaining more players to the game.”
FPPs Replaced, No VPPs in High-Stakes Play
Here’s a breakdown of the various changes that are set to go into effect on PokerStars in 2016:
Among the numerous changes:
- FPPs replaced with StarsCoin
- StarsCoin valued at one cent across the board (approximately 25% reduction in value compared to FPPs)
- VIP Club rewards capped at 30% (That includes SuperNova and SuperNova Elite players)
- No VPPs for Pot-Limit and No-Limit games with blinds of $5-$10 or more
- PlatinumStar level will have 10% reduction in their overall rewards
- PokerStars will honor the players who achieved SuperNova Elite this year by offering 45% rewards for one last year in 2016
PokerStars’ head of corporate communication Eric Hollreiser explained that the rewards program, as it currently existed, was simply too weighted towards high-volume players, which only make up 2% of the overall player base:
PokerStars Also Set to Eliminate HUDs
PokerStars will also revamp the loyalty program to effectively incentivize and reward more players and to encourage competitive play over high volume play. The changes will result in improved rewards for the vast majority of players.
Approximately two percent of players - including our highest volume and high stakes players - will have significantly reduced rewards. The reason we are focused on the highest status levels is because these rewards have become so enticing that we have inadvertently altered why some people play and how they play. We are introducing these changes to move towards a more balanced long-term poker economy and to return the game back to one that rewards skill via winning at the tables rather than playing primarily for volume.
The VIP overhaul wasn’t the only news out of PokerStars HQ.
The company announced plans to restrict third-party software add-ons in 2016, which means advanced Heads-Up Displays will likely be eliminated.
Several online poker sites, including PokerStars’ sister site Full Tilt Poker, have already made moves towards eliminating HUDs altogether in order to protect players who don’t use them.
PokerStars also announced plans to launch massive new campaigns involving sports stars Neymar Jr. and Cristiano Ronaldo.
High-Stakes Pros Criticize Changes, Negreanu Silent So Far
A number of high-stakes pros including Dani “Ansky” Stern, Justin Bonomo, Phil Galfond and others have criticized PokerStars for the overhaul.
Some of the critics have called the change a money grab while others claim it’s not fair to players who had built massive stores of FPPs or grinded extensively in 2015 for SuperNova status next year:
What an amateur favored VIP system change would look like: slashes to high volume RB, increases in low volume. What we got: All slashes.— Dani Stern (@TheRealAnsky) November 2, 2015
Meanwhile the biggest player on PokerStars’ roster, Daniel Negreanu, has yet to release an official statement about the changes and left this cryptic series of messages on Twitter:
Lots of big decisions to digest and I approach each with my integrity at the forefront of where I choose from.— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) November 3, 2015
Can't remember the last time I have been stressed about anything. I'm officially stressed at a 9 out of 10. Lots on my plate at the moment.— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) November 3, 2015