Isaac Haxton has announced that he will not renew his contract as a member of Team PokerStars Online. He has cited the changes in the VIP Program as “dishonest and unfair” and felt that he could not continue representing the company.
Haxton’s resignation was the second to occur since mid-December and coincides with a new protest underway on the site. However, despite their good intention, one has to wonder if their resignations are merely just footnotes on a story that doesn’t appear to have a happy ending that some players want.
Haxton Resigns Two Weeks After Millar Departs
Isaac Haxton’s resignation came just a couple of weeks after that of another online pro, Alex Millar. Millar departed after being unable to negotiate any changes from the planned reduction in VIP benefits.
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Millar issued an apology on Twitter for his “complete failure to be able to help in any way. He then stated that after Daniel Negreanu failed as well, he felt he could no longer represent the company.
Haxton pulled few punches in his announcement that he is no longer with Amaya. After talking about past disagreements he stated this time things were different because he believes that “PokerStars is behaving unethically.”
He went into depth explaining how he is a former SuperNova Elite player and that the changes to the program being announced in November struck him as “dishonest and unfair.” He then spoke about the grind of making SNE and how some have relocated to other countries to pursue their poiker goals, calling the changes brutal to those that have worked all year towards SNE to find the program changed for 2016.
I have resigned from PokerStars in protest of the changes to the Supernova and Supernova Elite programs: https://t.co/I7c49fB00D— Isaac Haxton (@ikepoker) January 1, 2016
Haxton said that he couldn’t “in good conscience continue to endorse a poker site that treats its players this way.” His resignation came to light as a second protest against PokerStars is underway. Scheduled to run through January 7, the participants are asked to refrain from playing on PokerStars and to withdraw at least 10% of their bankrolls. Approximately 2,000 players are said to be participating.
Is There Ever a Good Time to Take a Stand?
Was this the best time for Millar and Haxton to leave PokerStars? If you were to ask those in the middle of protesting against PokerStars and Amaya, they would say absolutely. Your average poker pro may give you a different take. As Haxton alluded to in his statement regarding his resignation, he now has to actually earn his living by winning at poker.
I don’t know how much Haxton made, or if his statement was done tongue in cheek, but we all know that some pros make or have made a significant portion of their yearly income off their sponsorships.
With that said, sometimes there is more to life than money and this appears to be the case with both Haxton and Millar. They believe that players are being mistreated and they believe that their continued employment by the company condones the action. Upholding one’s reputation is sometimes more important than money.
Haxton and Millar Not High Profile Enough to Matter
Haxton and Millar have both dropped their patches in the last month, or more accurately, they have chosen not to renew their contracts. While some in the media are trying to spin this as a huge deal, keep in mind that these were two pros – out of what was a team of 50.
Also, they were a part of Team PokerStars Online, not the “A-Squad” headlines by everyone’s favorite poker ambassador.
Now, if we start seeing players like Liv Boeree, Jason Somerville, Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst or even Daniel Negreanu defect, then we have a story. Negreanu has already towed the corporate line and stated he is “disappointed” in PokerStars for how they communicated the changes.
While I applaud Haxton and Millar for taking their stand, I feel that they will be on an island largely alone in terms of defections from PokerStars. For better or worse, Amaya and PokerStars is still the golden goose for sponsorships and players are going to collect the eggs as long as it benefits them.
PokerStars Said Changes Are Not Coming – Protests Not Likely to Change Minds
It has been well documented that the initial protest by players did not go as planned. In fact, the results experienced by PokerStars emboldened them to state that changes were not coming at any point in the future. For now, there’s little reason to believe that this will change.
A protest website has been setup at wearepokerplayers.com where those organizing against Amaya spell out their plan of attack against the company. They are employing a multi-step strategy that they hope will force Amaya to come to the table and either negotiate or reverse the changes entirely.
The goal is to get 5,000 players to commit to a month-long strike that they believe will cause a 15% or greater drop in overall rake for the site. At the writing of this article, around 700 players claim they will take part in said protests. This number is well short of the 2,000 players that are supposedly participating in the current sit-out.
I’m not convinced that they will get 5,000 players (of which they believe at least half will be Supernova or greater) to sit out of playing online poker for a month. This is one of those deals that I will believe it when the numbers actually prove it.
Unless players prove otherwise, it is hard to see these protests having enough of an impact to make Amaya budge on their current plans. Their focus is on casual and recreational players. The old poker model doesn’t work for them as a company and they insist a reversal is not happening. Of course, the players aren’t going to give in without attempting to put up a fight, even if it is a fight they might have already lost.