PokerStars Does Damage Control After VIP Changes Backlash

It was just a short time ago we brought you the news of the VIP PokerStars changes and how high volume players were not happy with the changes to the rewards program. Dani Stern led the charge, causing as many as 2,500 players to boycott the site from the 1st to the 3rd of December. Eric Hollreiser, the VP of Corporate Communications for PokerStars, logged online after the boycott to try and smooth things over, but still stated the site was not affected in a negative way by the boycott.

Hollreiser provided information for players, in regards to VIP changes and stated that as always, PokerStars will listen to what players want. Now, it seems that PokerStars is doing a bit of damage control in regards to the situation. Despite the event not affecting the site adversely, it is bad publicity. PokerStars must do something to show players they are continuing to keep players at the forefront of their mind when it comes to gaming options.

Lee Jones, the Director of Poker Communications at PokerStars, tried to smooth things over, answering questions in regards to the VIP changes after being asked by PokerNews during EPT12 Prague. Jones covered what Hollreiser stated but the info seemed to come across better since it was on video. Jones acknowledged that PokerStars could have been better at communicating the changes for the VIP program. This was something everyone seemed to agree on, but many still don’t understand how there could have been issues with communicating the upcoming changes in the first place.

It was on November 1st that PokerStars announced the rewards would be changed for pro grinders, essentially reduced considerably by the 1st of January. Players who are working for the high side of the rewards program invest time and money throughout the year to be able to make a VIP level and reap the benefits the next year, this being 2016. It was these changes that led to the boycott.

Jones was asked as to why the problems with communication are not changed and he responded by stating that they cannot afford to pay for communication failure by stopping the absolutely necessary changes that the site is making to the VIP program. PokerStars feels the VIP program is broken and the ecosystem is broken, leading the site to make changes.

Jones stated further:

Jones Statement

This is not the first time players have been mad at an online poker site, but the first time a big move has been made. Players completed the boycott and their voices were heard. PokerStars does make a big effort to keep in mind their players opinions and feelings on a subject. They may be making changes that the higher level players do not want to see but they are coming.

It is interesting to see the shift in online poker sites from just a few years ago. After the boom of online poker with Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP win, online poker sites took to pushing pros, providing reward schemes to bring players to another level. Now, the sites are moving away from the professional grinder and looking to be a home for the recreational player. More and more online poker rooms are offering options for players who enjoy the game rather than those who use online poker as a career option.