PokerStars Supernova Elite (SNE) will reduce the value of its program slightly in 2015, taking away some free tournament entries that are worth around five percent of the overall program value to players.
The decision, which will only impact players at the highest tier of the PokerStars VIP program, will take away $5,200 worth of tournament entries from players. In previous years, players who reached SNE status were given that amount in free tournament tickets to WCOOP, SCOOP, or TCOOP events, the top tournament festivals run on PokerStars.
Only a Few Hundred Players Affected
That change is certainly significant, but it isn’t one that should have a major impact on players as a whole. Fewer than 400 players reach the SNE level each year, as it requires a high volume of play even at high stakes to achieve. In addition, SNE players receive over $100,000 in benefits, which means that this represents only about a five percent decrease in their benefits.
Players also don’t have to fear this change affecting them for at least another year. Those players making SNE in 2014 will get their free entries for 2015; it is only 2015 that SNEs who won’t get those tickets for the 2016 versions of the tournaments.
All in all, the change is a much milder one than some people expected when the idea of reduced benefits was first floated around. In June, around the time of (but apparently unrelated to) the Amaya purchase of Rational Group, PokerStars officials began discussing reviewing their VIP program to see if they should perhaps shave a little off the top tiers in order to give more to lower-level players.
Future Changes Still Possible
But while the final changes for 2015 were minimal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that bigger changes won’t come in future years.
“While we are making only this one change this year, it follows a substantial review of the PokerStars VIP Club conducted earlier this year,” said Steve Day, PokerStars’ head of Ring Games and the VIP Club. “We are considering more significant changes for implementation in 2016. Details will be available in the second half of next year.”
Day was also able to confirm that players in the United Kingdom will see reductions in the VIP program beginning in 2015. This was expected as a reaction to the new UK gambling regulations, which will be going into effect later this year, and that include a 15 percent point-of-consumption tax. A similar reduction will also take place in Bulgaria.
This is not the first time that significant changes have been made to the PokerStars VIP system. Just before New Year’s Day in 2013, PokerStars changed the way it calculated the rake, switching to a weighted-contributed system that was somewhat less lucrative for high-volume players. While the system itself was unlikely to make VIP players happy, the bigger issue was the last-minute nature of the change, leading PokerStars to promise prior notice of such changes whenever possible.
The PokerStars VIP program rewards players for playing in real money games with cash, tournament entries and other rewards. There are seven levels of rewards that players can reach, ranging from BronzeStar up through Supernova and Supernova Elite, with higher levels getting better rates of rewards.