The PokerStars strike is underway, the three-day boycott scheduled to last from today, December 1, through Wednesday.
Championed by poker pro Dani Stern, the sit-out is in response to the changes to PokerStars’ rewards structure that strips several crucial benefits previously afforded to the network’s most active and prosperous players.
“We ask everyone who values the game of poker at all, recreational or pro, to show their support,” Stern appealed on a Two Plus Two thread. “Please do not play a hand of poker on PokerStars for those 72 hours.”
More than 2,500 players signed the online petition to strike, and in response 888poker lowered its rake and increased guarantees for this week to entice PokerStars players to its platform.
Leveling the Field
Last summer, PokerStars announced it was doing away with its Frequent Player Points (FPPs) system in favor of a new arrangement called StarsCoin. The new currency will be used to ascend the VIP status scale.
However, it’s not a rebranding of the points that has gained the attention of poker pros, but the eliminating of the Supernova Elite rank and reduction of benefits by up to 27 percent for Supernova qualifiers.
PokerStars made no secret about its decision to focus more on the recreational poker player than the high-performing pros.
“Rewards for higher status players are being reduced,” PokerStars said. “We’ve come to the realization that the current situation has to change, even though we understand it will upset the high-status players that are affected.”
PokerStars argues it has the interest of the novice, amateur and more casual player in mind, and that the new points system will reward “skill via winning at the tables rather than playing primarily for volume.”
Pros Call Bluff
Stern says PokerStars’ claims of looking out for the little guy are completely unfounded.
“While PokerStars claims the changes are to provide relief to recreational players, there is no such change happening,” Stern asserts. “They are telling their players outright lies.”
PokerStars’ own VIP update seems to support Stern’s argument.
“On average we are aiming for the following percentage of rewards as compared to the current reward system:
Status2016 Average Rewards
BronzeStar: No change
ChromeStar: Up to 10% increase
SilverStar: No change
GoldStar: No change
PlatinumStar: 10% decrease
Supernova: 0%-27% decrease
200k+: 27%-60% decrease
It appears as if only those players in the ChromeStar class will see any benefit from the modifications.
“The only players who will see an increase in rakeback are ChromeStar players,” Stern wrote in early November. “How much rakeback? Roughly 30 cents. Yes, you read that correctly, their rakeback will go up by up to 30 cents per month.”
“It should also be clear how low of a volume ChromeStar is. Not only do you have [sic] be an amateur, you have to be an amateur who virtually never plays,” he concluded.
Stern and the thousands of others sitting out the first three days of December are hoping the network changes its position and restores the benefits of the Supernova tiers. It’s a long shot, but it’s a shot.
“Only time will tell!” Stern tweeted. “Fight and we have a chance.”