PokerStars Defends VIP Changes, Cites Data as Proof Amendments Are Working

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by Jon Pineda
PokerStars Daniel Negreanu VIP changes

Daniel Negreanu has been placed in the middle of a bitter exchange between professional online players and PokerStars as the two sides have quarreled over changes to the platform’s VIP program. (Image: pnn.dk)

PokerStars team member Daniel Negreanu and several executives from the online card room’s parent company Amaya met with high-volume players Dani Stern, Daniel Dvoress, and Isaac Haxton last week to discuss recent changes to the network’s VIP program. The trio of online pros are specifically upset with the reduction in rewards to the Supernova (SN) and Supernova Elite (SNE) tiers.

Following a PokerStars boycott led by Stern that ran December 1-3, Amaya executives invited the three critics to its Montreal headquarters for an in-depth conversation on the company’s motives. The meeting reportedly lasted eight hours.

Stern, Dvoress, and Haxton were all forced to sign non-disclosure agreements due to the sensitivity of the information Amaya was providing. In a statement issued on TwoPlusTwo, the players said they “deeply regret … not bringing back any good news.”

Fault in our Stars

The Internet pros that participated in the PokerStars boycott last month are outraged that 2016 rewards promised as late as November 2015 are not being upheld.

“We emphasized that failing to honor that agreement is not just a ‘miscommunication,’ but an ongoing breach of trust,” the three’s joint release read. “Although the PokerStars and Amaya representatives were apologetic and expressed regret at the impact that the decision has had on players’ perception of the brand, we did not make any real progress… They denied having any firm obligation to give 2015 SNs and SNEs the rewards they were promised.”

Stern further explained that Amaya produced data that supported the modifications and attempted to display how the changes will improve the iPoker ecology over the long run. The trio was unconvinced.

Amaya spokesman Eric Hollreiser painted a different picture of the meeting.

“We provided substantial data to support that these changes were needed and expressed our regret that the changes have angered some high volume players,” Hollreiser stated. “These players recognize that the facts support our case that changes to the current online poker ecosystem are needed to ensure the health and vitality of the online games.”

Garden State Soiling

The overall goal of the new VIP program is largely thought to protect the casual and amateur player, or the fish from the sharks if you will. The high-volume players argue it’s just another money grab for the PokerStars owner that is publicly traded on NASDAQ.

PokerStars will soon debut in New Jersey marking the first time it will have legally operated in the United States since October 12, 2006. PokerStars and sister network Full Tilt continued operating after the passage of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act up until poker’s Black Friday in April of 2011.

It’s unclear what impact the PokerStars rewards revisions will have on the platform when it launches in the Garden State. For Stern and company, it’s significant.

They say high-stakes Sit-N-Go rakes are simply unbeatable without the old 70 percent rakeback that Supernova Elite players previously enjoyed. “We tried our best to present both practical and ethical arguments against the SN/SNE cuts, but PokerStars is not willing to reconsider,” the three concluded.

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