PokerStars Supernova Elite (SNE) players will receive a slightly reduced rewards package starting in 2015, but won’t have to deal with larger cuts that were feared by some high-volume players on the site.
In total, SNE rewards will be reduced by a little over $5,000 per year, with that loss coming entirely in the form of tickets for free entries into some of the site’s signature tournaments.
In most respects, 2015 will be the same as 2014 for the 400 or so players at the SNE level. However, a $5,200 package of free tournament tickets will not be a part of the rewards program starting next year, meaning players won’t get their paid entries into WCOOP, SCOOP or TCOOP events.
That means that this reduction won’t be felt by players until the 2016 versions of these tournaments: players who make SNE in 2014 will still get their free seats in next year’s tournaments.
Overall, the SNE rewards package is valued at a bit over $100,000. That makes the total cost of this drop in benefits significant, but small, representing about a five percent cut. That’s better than many players were expecting, after PokerStars announced earlier this year that it would be putting the VIP program under a major review to see if it could be improved.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that those larger changes won’t be coming in the future. Steve Day, head of Ring Games and the VIP Club for PokerStars said that bigger changes will be considered again in the future, perhaps as early as next year.
“While we are making only this one change this year, it follows a substantial review of the PokerStars VIP Club conducted earlier this year,” Day said. “We are considering more significant changes for implementation in 2016. Details will be available in the second half of next year.”
While the loss of tournament tickets for SNE players will be the only change on the main PokerStars site, some of the segregated sites in various jurisdictions may see additional changes. For instance, Day confirmed that players in the United Kingdom would be seeing reductions starting in 2015 as a result of the new UK Gambling Act that will be implemented later this year. That legislation includes a 15 percent point-of-consumption tax. A similar reduction is also coming for Bulgarian players.
PokerStars officials first announced their intention to review their VIP program this summer, around the time of their acquisition by Amaya Gaming (though the review reportedly was planned internally, and not as a result of the purchase). According to reports one idea that was discussed was giving lower-level VIPs increased rewards while reducing the benefits given to the highest-volume players.
The company has changed their VIP program in the past. Many years have seen minor tweaks, though major changes aren’t unheard of. For instance, players were surprised to learn just days before the start of 2013 that the way rake would be calculated would change, with only players contributing to pots being considered to have contributed to the rake in a given hand. Since that time, PokerStars has promised to give more notice before making changes to their VIP policies.