Though PokerStars clarified in its official statement last week that the company faced no impact of the 3-day strike held by over 2,500 players, the protest was seen at the live felt in Prague. In the ongoing European Poker Tour in Prague, half the final table in the €50,000 Super High Roller event took seat wearing a protest t-shirt.
The t-shirt had a cracked logo of PokerStars with the text, “We are against the changes in the PokerStars VIP program” printed around it. It was clear sign that a section of the top pros of the industry are still not in agreement with the clarification sent out by PokerStars. Steve O’Dwyer who won the tournament bagging €746,543 in the top prize was also wearing the same t-shirt in some of the winner images.
Eric Hollreiser, VP Corporate Communications for Amaya and PokerStars had affirmed that the 3-day strike led by Dani “Ansky” Stern made no impact on the games or revenue and the company is going to implement the announced changes on the defined dates.
“During the three-day boycott we recorded the healthiest consecutive three-day ecosystem results of the year with steady net gaming revenue, even though our net-depositing players lost at a much lower rate than they have all year,” Hollreiser wrote on the PokerStars blog. “Changes are needed and we are making them,” he continued. “The funds that previously went to these rewards will be placed in more and bigger online promotions, more consumer marketing campaigns to attract new players and research and development of innovative new products and features.”
The changes announced in the PokerStars Loyalty Program will cut down the benefits of VIP program to the high stakes players. Starting 1st January 2016, the VIP Club rewards will be capped at 30% which will impact the Supernova and SupernovaElite level players on the site. Also, the Platinum level players will see a drop of 10% in their benefits through the new reward system. Moreover, there will no longer be VPPs for pot-limit and no-limit games with blinds of $5/$10 or higher, 8-game with limits of $10/$20 or higher, and other limit games with blinds of $10/$15 or higher. This will substantially impact the high stakes and high volume players on the site.
It would be interesting to see if PokerStars which owns the European Poker Tour and several other live tournament tours will introduce any dress code for final table players or will let go it as a random incident.