Following the backlash to PokerStars’ VIP changes, Amaya held a meeting with some of its longstanding players who recently gave their thoughts on what took place.
Dani Stern, Isaac Haxton and Daniel Dvoress flew to Amaya’s headquarters in Canada on January 18 to speak with a selection of high ranking PokerStars’ executives, including Amaya VP of Operations Shawn Nikolaev, PokerStars and Amaya VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser and Amaya CEO, David Baazov.
Ahead of the meeting the players were asked to sign an NDA which prevented them from divulging any of the financial or sensitive company information shown to them during the meeting. However, after reflecting on their experiences and putting their thoughts to words, the players posted a response on 2+2.
After outlining the mechanics of the meeting, the trio of players explained that, despite their best efforts, they were unable to make any real progress on the issue of changing VIP rewards; especially for high stakes players.
Although the PokerStars’ representatives did apologize for the miscommunication with regards to the VIP changes (the announcement that players wouldn’t receive SuperNova Elite benefits in 2016 based on their 2015 play wasn’t made until late in the year), there was no effort on the part of PokerStars to reverse the decisions.
“As far as we could tell, PokerStars’ goal going into the meeting was to convince us that 1) there are problems with the current ecosystem and that 2) the VIP changes will address those problems,” read the statement from the three players.
Throughout the lengthy statement on 2+2 it’s clear the three players were left disappointed after the meeting and believe that PokerStars’ interpretations of the facts aren’t necessarily in line with the poker community’s take on things.
Essentially, the players believe the whole situation is a case of the research confirming a pre-existing assumption. In fact, according to the players, the financial data they were privy to was compelling, but it simply served to back up their claims that VIP cuts were the only way forward.
In an effort to convince the executives to change their mind, the three players suggested a number of measures that could help reduce costs and maintain a happy player base.
However, as Daniel Negreanu (who was also present) pointed out after the meeting, the aim of the event was to discuss the issues and not “negotiate” any changes.
Regardless of the intent of the meeting, the players were moved to apologize to the poker community and express their “regret” that Amaya isn’t willing to compromise on their current changes or the direction PokerStars is moving.