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PokerStars is preparing the online poker world for more changes regarding its VIP Club. A post from Eric Hollreiser, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya and PokerStars, announced that the entire program will be replaced at some point in 2017 in an effort to combine rewards for online poker players with those on the casino and sports betting sites.

For fans of various games and all three sites, the new program is likely to offer great benefits. But for professional and semi-professional poker players, the changes may prompt further dismay for an already-frustrated group who find it increasingly tougher to make a living in the new reality of online poker.

What is Known So Far

Hollreiser gave hints as to how the new VIP program would look but only in very general terms. Rewards will be given for play on the poker, casino, and sportsbook sites via one singular program. Players will earn rewards for “many different things, rather than solely being rewarded for playing a lot of poker hands as is the case currently.” The program will not reset each month, so as to reward players for their general gaming activity and profile.

There is no launch date for the new program, only Hollreiser’s word that it will happen in 2017. He admitted that all of the details have not yet been ironed out, as “careful analysis” is to occur in the coming months. PokerStars will share “what we can, when we can.”

Stages of a Supernova Death

In March of this year, PokerStars revealed that the Supernova Elite status was going to disappear. What was a goal for numerous high-stakes and high-volume online poker players would no longer offer the significant rewards for hard work and long hours of play.

The process of decreasing benefits to Supernova Elite players actually began on the first day of 2016 with a cap on rewards, reduced rakeback, no more concierge service, and no points to be earned in high-stakes cash games. Months later, those same players were informed that the status and benefits would be eliminated altogether by 2017.

The latest announcement from Hollreiser claims that players with Supernova status will keep it on a monthly basis beginning January 1, 2017, until the launch of the new rewards program. However, “the value of monthly VIP rewards and VPP requirements for all statuses in 2017 is still subject to change. When our new reward program is deployed, all players will receive rewards according to that new system.”

Special emails were sent to Supernova players and all who earned at least 45,000 VPPs in 2016. This extensive notice was given to make up for the rather abrupt announcements of VIP changes in the past that were widely frowned upon by PokerStars players.

New Focus Coming into View

The peek into the entirely new rewards system for all Amaya sites provides further clarification of the company’s new direction. No longer are career poker players and high-stakes grinders a priority for online poker sites like PokerStars, as the group of companies takes center stage as a unit and combine the importance of poker, online casino games, and sports betting into one interwoven entity.

New players seem to be the top priority, those who come to the sites for entertainment purposes and have no allegiance to any particular game. The recreational and/or casual players are going to be rewarded most generously for their decision to give the sites a try and keep coming back.

Some high-stakes players and grinders with a fondness for sports betting may find some benefits to frequenting PokerStars and BetStars with crossover promotions and rewards. And poker pros will likely still flock to PokerStars for its most lucrative tournaments with guarantees, especially on the weekends and during months like September when the World Championship of Online Poker offers extra value and opportunities. The daily grinders, however, will have to adjust their games in order to profit solely from the cash games and tournaments themselves instead of depending on the VIP program for extra benefits.

While players continue to express their frustrations, Amaya has already shown that the changes in progress are benefiting the company’s bottom line. Expect more changes and announcements as 2016 comes to a close in the next few months.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.