Further Protests as Players Fight Back Against PokerStars’ VIP Changes

December 14th, 2015 | by Brian Corlisse

PokerStars VIP reward protests continue.

Protests continue at EPT Prague as players rally against PokerStars’ VIP changes. (Image: flickr.com/WPT Europe)

Disgruntled PokerStars players recently made a public protest during EPT Prague’s €50,000 ($55,000) Super High Roller in response to the news that VIP rewards will be cut dramatically at the start of 2015.

Just over week removed from the online protest that saw thousands of players deliberately sit out of PokerStars’ online games, a small group of high rollers aired their concerns during the latest EPT.

T-Shirts Say It All

Despite the number of protestors being significantly fewer this time around, the message “we are against the changes in the PokerStars VIP program” was no less significant thanks to the players involved in the process.

After carving their way through another extremely tough super high roller, three players, including Steve O’Dwyer, each wore a t-shirt bearing the above slogan surrounding a broken red spade.

The protest has echoes of Olivier Busquet’s EPT 11 protest where he wore a “Free Gaza” t-shirt at the final table of the Barcelona event; however, this one will likely strike more of a chord with the community as it directly affects many players’ bottom lines.

Justin Bonomo is one of those players and he made his feelings known on Sunday night in a tweet directed at PokerStars’ Lee Jones who issued an apology for a “communication failure.”

“I paid $181,800 in rake to earn Supernova Elite this year. I’m talking about MONEY THAT I GAVE YOUR COMPANY. In return, I was promised benefits for next year. If you don’t want to honor them, then you owe me the money I gave you,” wrote Bonomo.

Don’t Count on Changes

Although player power has been in full effect over the last few weeks, it doesn’t seem to be having much impact on the suits at PokerStars’ HQ.

In addition to Eric Hollreiser’s assessment that the online protest had been “ineffective,” Jones made it clear that a communication issue wasn’t enough to force the company to change its policy.

“We can’t afford to pay for a communication failure by stopping the absolutely necessary changes that we’re making to the VIP program,” said Jones.

As it stands, PokerStars will radically overhaul its VIP reward scheme at the start of 2016, and when the new systems kicks into life the main change that will affect high stakes players will be the lack of VPPs for the following games:

Pot Limit and No Limit games with blinds of $5/$10+

8-game variants with limits of $10/$20+

Other Limit games with blinds of $10/$15+.


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