PokerStars Hopes to Mend Fences With Poker Community

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PokerStars, after being purchased by Amaya Gaming in 2014, has turned its back on its professional player customer base in hopes of building more recreational patronage.  Now they want to say “sorry”, well sort of…..

Among the changes that have occurred at PokerStars over these last three years that have managed to piss off the pros:

    *Adding and promoting less-skillful forms of poker like Spin & Go’s.

    *Removing heads-up tables and other “grinder” games.

    *Rebranding the European Poker Tour and events like the PCA.

    *Radically revamping its rewards program

    *Increasing the rake in certain games.

This is not an all-inclusive list.  Hating on PokerStars has become the “in” thing to do in recent years.

Steve Ruddick of offers his perspective in light of Stars new stance.

PokerStars has often cited the need to change the behavior of the winning players in its ecosystem in order to stabilize and grow the player pool. The existing model (which rewarded volume) was leftover from a bygone era (the 2000’s) that no longer represents the poker landscape in the 2010’s.

A small but vocal pocket of the poker community disagrees with this assessment and looks at the changes as nothing more than a cash-grab.

Further, communication missteps, particularly with regards to early changes to the rewards program that brought Supernova benefits to an early end, tarnished PokerStars image and left many former devoted PokerStars players pointing the finger in Amaya’s direction.

partypoker senses weakness.

Other poker rooms have stepped in to fill the void, most notably Americas Cardroom in the North and South American market and, to a lesser extent perhaps, PartyPoker, to rest of the world players.

Ruddick notes that PokerStars is now going as far as to course-correct by rolling back some of the changes.  They’ve resurrected the PCA in the Bahamas, enhanced their payout structure, and even stepped in to assist those players stung by the abrupt shutdown of PKR Poker earlier this summer. 

The narrative that has developed over the past few years is that PokerStars doesn’t want winning players, Ruddick says.

That it wants all winning players to just go away.  This isn’t true.

What the company wants is winning players who exhibit the right traits. PokerStars doesn’t want you if you’re a nitty low-limit 20-tabler whose income is generated almost entirely through rewards and rakeback. And it shouldn’t be surprising that these players were the most impacted by the changes.

If you’re a solid winning player who moves up in stakes instead of adding more volume, they do want you.

- Ace King,

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