More than two weeks have passed since the player strike at PokerStars when approximately 2,500 players sat out for three days to protest the site’s upcoming changes to its loyalty program.
Cash game player traffic stood at 14,500 when the strike began on December 1. As of this writing, the seven-day player average at the ring game tables is 17,000, according to PokerScout.com. That’s a 17.2% increase.
PokerStars announced a revamp of the VIP program – reduced rewards for high stakes and high volume players – on November 1. When the “Comprehensive Plan for Enhanced PokerStars Experience” was introduced on the PokerStars Blog that day, player traffic averaged 15,000 cash game players. It dropped down to 14,500 ten days later, where it stood until the player strike took effect at the beginning of this month.
Promo Trumps Strike
The strike dates of Dec. 1-3, as most may be aware, turned out to be not the best possible time for players to wage a protest. It marked the start of PokerStars Christmas Calendar promotion, a $2 million giveaway consisting of a fresh surprise behind a calendar door every day leading all the way up to the 25th.
It is that promotion that has likely caused an increase in player traffic at the world’s top poker site. An increase, by the way, that puts PokerStars still 1,500 players shy of its average of 19,000 cash game players when 2015 began.
High volume grinders hoping to open up a calendar door one day during the promo and find their poker offer to be a reinstatement of the original Supernova and Supernova Elite rewards are out of luck. There will be no such surprise this Christmas season. As it stands now, the reduced rewards and VIP changes as announced on Nov. 1 will remain.
One Defection So Far
Anyone who has been following the situation at PokerStars knows that many of the site’s high volume grinders continue to be peeved at how the changes came about and the lack of communication between site reps and loyal players. The dispute has prompted at least one member of PokerStars Team Pro Online to choose not to sign another sponsorship contract. Alex ‘Kanu7’ Millar announced that he is no longer representing PokerStars.
“I have not been impressed with the direction of the site since Amaya took over,” Millar told Cardplayer. “I was actually already questioning my affiliation with the site before the [VIP] changes came out. Then the changes were worse than I could possibly have guessed, so it became very unlikely that I would stay.”
Millar is not alone in his feelings about PokerStars in the Amaya era. Many players share the same sentiment. But it has not affected cash game player traffic as of yet – and the December promo has caused players to flock to the tables. Let’s see what happens when 2016 arrives.