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PokerStars Boycott Has No Effect On Company Decision

Many people know that last week a three-day boycott was planned against the popular website PokerStars. This Wednesday the
PokerStars VP of corporate communication Eric Hollreiser, issued a press release titled “Four $1 Million Freerolls Planned For 2016.”

After discussing four new million-dollar tournaments for 2016, he addressed the recent boycott and claimed that it had no effect on the PokerStars brand. Though Hollreiser admits that PokerStars failed to properly communicate their intentions, they still plan to press forward.

His exact words were “Although we did not publicize it at the time, we did recognize that players might not be expecting as severe a decrease in awards, so we provided a higher level of reward in 2016 than originally planned and delayed implementing the full decrease in rewards until 2017. This was explicitly in recognition that players were grinding in 2015 in order to reap the maximum benefit for 2016.”

Since many of the players were frustrated about the fact that a change to the two-year loyalty program had only been announced a month in advance, this was a clear attempt to directly address the fact. According to Hollreiser, full changes will not be in effect until 2017, so players need not worry.

However, “We will not alter those plans,” says Hollreiser. “The current VIP program is no longer fit for its purpose. When combined with the increasing skill gap in the online poker market, the result is an increasingly poor experience for recreational and new players… effects from the recent boycott [that] give us greater confidence that our strategy is on the right track to improve the health of the ecosystem.”

He explained that PokerStars 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.”

In fact, the truth is that records from tracking websites such as Pokerscout show that PokerStars did indeed have more traffic on those days. Many believe that if the boycott had been better executed (it was held during the first few days of the PokerStars Christmas promotion) it would have had a better chance at success. However, the odds are good that it would not have mattered either way. Nonetheless, the fact that PokerStars can point at peak traffic numbers during the boycott period hardly does much to forward the disgruntled players’ case.

PokerStars is clear that they have a plan for the future, which no longer includes pandering to high-volume players as in the past. The company firmly believes that these changes will be a step in the right direction towards increasing the experience for all recreational and new players. These players make up the vast majority of online poker players and with the current set up, they stand no chance against the ultra-skilled high-level players.

It should be noted that the boycott was planned by a minority of high-level players who had accrued lots of loyalty perks that they did not wish to lose. Going forward these high-tier players will have to turn to means other than grinding low-level PokerStars games for the easy money and excessive loyalty rewards.

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