PokerStars Responds to Boycott

After PokerStars announced they would be reducing the VIP benefits on their online poker gaming site, high volume players did not take the news very well. The drastic reduction was taken in anger and with the help of Dani Stern, a boycott was planned. As we reported previously, the boycott was to take place from the 1st to the 3rd and would see over 2,500 players taking a break from the online poker room. The boycott did not seem to affect the site in a major way and now PokerStars is coming forward with a response to the player’s concerns.

PokerStars has a blog that is updated on a regular basis with information of the goings on and responses to player issues. On Wednesday, the online poker room’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, Eric Hollreiser took to the blog to make a few announcements. First up was the announcement that four freerolls would be offered in 2016 with $1 million prize pools. This is one way the site wants to attract casual gamers, something the site is arguing that will help make up for the benefits lost to VIP players.

The blog post then turned to the boycott, with Hollreiser stating the company has been taking steps to address the changes made across the whole business. The VP stated that boycott did not have a major effect on the traffic of the site, most likely due to the user spike since the release of the Christmas promotions at PokerStars.

Hollreiser did assure players that the strike did not go unnoticed. He stated the brand cares about their players and what they expect of them. The complaints of players were addressed, concerning those who had worked hard to receive the status of Supernova Elite in 2015 without knowing the rewards for the status would be far fewer in 2016. The VP did remind players that changes to the VIP scheme were announced back in 2014 and announced again several times this year.

A big problem in the mind of players was the way in which PokerStars announced the changes. Hollreiser did acknowledge that the company could have been able to communicate the changes better to players but added that they did not have any intention to deceive or profit from the changes. Hollreiser continued that with an increase of Supernova Elite players, the site is not going to benefit financially.

Based on the information provided by PokerStars as well as statistical data found with resource sites, we know that the boycott did not necessarily help the cause of players. Hollreiser stated the company felt the impact but not in the way the players would have expected.

The boycott was able to confirm that the changes made were the right ones for the company. Hollreiser stated that boycott gives them a greater confidence that the strategy is on the right track to improve the overall health of the ecosystem. The three day boycott resulted in the site recording the healthiest three day ecosystem consecutively for the year, with a steady stream of net gaming revenue, despite the fact the net-depositing players lost at a much lower rate than any other time this year.

Hollreiser stated that with fewer sharks taking advantage of the amateur players, the casual players will take time to play longer and put more money into the system, as they are enjoying their time at the gaming tables. Poker pros are now sure to think twice and maybe rethink their strategies as online poker rooms are becoming less dependent on the pros and trying to create a more recreational gaming environment.