While the changes themselves and the exact date they will take effect have not yet been disclosed, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya Inc. and PokerStars, Eric Hollreiser, said PokerStars will be awarding players across all verticals including poker, casino, and sportsbook.
Hollreiser also mentioned that annual awards will be eliminated in the new program. The Supernova status will remain as part of the new rewards program; however, it will be converted from an annual goal to a monthly one. Players achieving Supernova status in 2016 will be able to keep their status until the new rewards program is rolled out.
PokerStars has already emailed any customer that achieved Supernova status or has accumulated at least 45,000 VPPs about this change.
While PokerStars has not announced which targets will achieve each VIP status or what the new rewards will be, Hollreiser did imply that it will be different for each player. Additionally, the targets might not be fully attributed to a monthly goal which PokerStars believes will benefit its recreational players — most of its current customer base.
"A key challenge with the current rewards system is that player progress resets each month," Hollreiser said. "While that's great for those that play the most, the vast majority of our players only play intermittently and casually; resetting VIP progress each month can make it a tough rewards system for those players to engage with. So, at some point during 2017, we will make the switch from the current monthly status system to one that is more personalized to your recent gaming activity and player profile."
Hollreiser admitted there was negative feedback when changes to the rewards program were announced in early November 2015 (to take effect as of Jan. 1, 2016). These changes included the introduction of StarsCoin, the elimination of SuperNova Elite and a cap on the maximum rewards at 30 percent of rake.
Players were not only upset by the changes, but also by how late they were announced. This especially had a negative effect on players achieving SuperNova Elite since most of the benefits carry forward to the following year. This resulted in several player boycotts; however, this did not result in PokerStars rolling back any of the changes to its rewards program.
PokerStars hopes to avoid repeating the alienation of many of its loyal customers by taking the first step to announce that changes are in the works.
"We have heard the feedback from players who felt that they did not receive enough notice about the implementation of VIP changes for the start of 2016," Hollreiser said. "Consequently, we're working hard to avoid repeating that situation by sharing this broad vision for the rewards program in 2017, even when we have not yet decided on all the details or launch date. These details will be informed by further careful analysis in coming months, but we will endeavor to share what we can, when we can. This blog and the associated email to players is the first step in that process."
Mixed Feedback From Players
Almost immediately after the announcement about changes to the rewards program was made, players hit Two Plus Two and other poker forums to express their thoughts. Reactions were mixed with many recreational players happy to hear that other verticals will be included in the rewards program.
Two Plus Two poster "climbs" shared, "Rewards for all of your activity. Earn rewards not just by playing poker, but if you are in eligible areas, for casino games and making sports bets on BetStars. You won’t be required to play on any specific product, but your activity on all products will help you progress on your path to earning rewards. Fantastic news!!!!!"
Despite some positive feedback, many others appeared displeased with the announcement believing their rewards will be reduced.
"This new rewards system only can be bad for all regs and recs. They are just trying to make some people debate on the regs/recs thing, but the main point is that they will be INCREASING THE COST OF PLAYING POKER ONLINE," said Two Plus Two poster "AggressiveDog."
While PokerStars customers are pondering what some of the changes might be, a handful have offered suggestions. Two Plus Two poster "starssavior" suggested that "Rakeback should be based on player balances. In this way Stars will maximize total deposits and potential number of games running. And they will also make more interest income from the float."