It was roughly a year ago that changes to the PokerStars VIP Program sent the high-stakes poker community into a tizzy.
A year later, many of the players affected by the abrupt changes are still feeling aggrieved. Now they’ll have even more VIP changes to contend with. PokerStars has begun to reveal its planned alterations for 2017.
The company learned a valuable lesson about forewarning players of any upcoming changes. PokerStars announced even more changes were afoot for 2017 back in September.
In a statement at the time, Vice President of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser wrote on the PokerStars Corporate Blog:
“Today we began contacting players to provide notice of important planned changes to our VIP Club, notably that our current VIP Club, with rewards centered around monthly and annual statuses, will be replaced sometime in 2017 with a new, combined rewards program for poker, casino and sportsbook.”
In the September blog post, Hollreiser indicated PokerStars was still working on the specifics. He said the new program would reward players across all verticals: sports, casino and poker. Hollreiser also said PokerStars would be switching to a new “personalized” rewards system that will be less reliant on monthly status. It will be unveiled sometime in 2017, and Supernova will become a monthly status level at the start of 2017.
In an email sent to players on Friday, PokerStars started to unveil specific details of its upcoming VIP program changes. Needless to say, high-volume, high-stakes players will not be overly thrilled with the changes. PokerStars continues to shift to a rewards program focused on recreational players.
Supernova status changes
Friday’s email focused on changes to the highest tier of the current rewards program: Supernova.
Supernova status in 2016 conveyed a 28 to 30 percent rakeback rate. In 2017, the rakeback cap for Supernova players will be 28 percent, according to the email PokerStars sent its players. (The full email can be found at the end of the column.)
Additionally, and more consequentially, beginning in January, Supernova will become a monthly tier. Instead of players achieving Supernova status over the course of a year — retaining Supernova status for the remainder of the calendar year regardless of continued play — they will now have to earn it each month.
Supernova status will henceforth require 10,000 VPP’s every month. Under the old system, a player would achieve Supernova status after earning 100,000 VPP’s in a year.
In the past, some players have put in an inordinate amount of volume early in the year into attaining Supernova status as fast as possible. Many accomplish the feat in only a few months. This allowed players to cut back on their volume in subsequent months while maintaining their VIP status.
The end of Supernova?
Switching Supernova to a monthly status seems to be just one step in a larger change.
In the email, PokerStars states, “Players who achieve Supernova status in 2016 will retain Supernova status until the launch of the new rewards program in 2017. … When the new program launches, existing VIP statuses will be replaced by the program’s new reward mechanisms.”
If I’m reading this correctly, when PokerStars launches its new rewards program (sometime in 2017), Supernova, or a corresponding status in the new program, will likely no longer exist.
This would explain why Supernova is being switched to a monthly tier. PokerStars would prefer to avoid the brouhaha created by its last premature ending of an annual VIP status.
Supernova players are losing up to two percent in rakeback. However, it sounds like the 28 percent rakeback will go down a bit more when the new program is unveiled.
Inactive players will be stripped of StarsCoins
Another change of which PokerStars informed players in the email was a new policy on StarsCoins.
“Effective July 1, 2017, StarsCoin balances will expire for players who have been inactive on all Stars platforms (PokerStars, Full Tilt, PokerStars Casino, BetStars) over a 6-month rolling period,” the email states.
This seems to be little more than a motivational tool to keep players active and depositing. It’s smart from a business perspective, but it’s unclear how players will view this new policy.
Full email sent to players
Here’s the full email sent to PokerStars players that was posted on the 2+2 poker forums:
In a blog post earlier this year, we announced that in 2017 (date still to be determined), we will launch a new and exciting rewards program that recognises your play on PokerStars, Full Tilt, PokerStars Casino and BetStars (where available).
We are committed to keeping you updated as the details are finalized, and want to share with you what we can, when we can. In that spirit, here’s the latest:
VIP Club Changes
The current VIP Club program will remain in effect until the launch of the new program, and rewards will be unchanged on January 1, 2017, for monthly status players. Supernova will become a monthly status, and will offer 28% in rewards. Here’s an overview of next year’s VIP Club changes:
- Monthly VIP status rewards and requirements will remain unchanged
- Supernova VIPs will earn 28% in rewards
- Players who achieve Supernova status in 2016 will retain Supernova status until the launch of the new rewards program in 2017
- For players who don’t achieve Supernova status this year, Supernova will have a monthly status requirement of 10,000 VPPs
- When the new program launches, existing VIP statuses will be replaced by the program’s new reward mechanisms
- An announcement of the new rewards program launch date will be made at least two months in advance
- Effective July 1, 2017, StarsCoin balances will expire for players who have been inactive on all Stars platforms (PokerStars, Full Tilt, PokerStars Casino, BetStars) over a 6-month rolling period
Expect our next update to include more details regarding the new loyalty program, including how it will work and the timing of the launch.