PartyPoker, which recently merged player pools with bwin, has announced changes to its loyalty program. Palladium Elite, currently its highest VIP tier, will be removed and all bonuses that generate greater than 30% effective rakeback will be pulled.
With the addition of monthly promotions, Palladium Elite players can currently reach effective rakeback of 65%. The shift in policy will commence April 1.
"We believe the change will allow us to manage our poker room more effectively and ultimately allow for fairer distribution of bonuses across the network," a Party Poker rep said in statement on TwoPlusTwo.
In August 2012, bwin announced intentions to implement a more recreational player approach, outlining six steps to "optimise the poker ecology”.
- Rebalance player pool in favor of more casual players.
- Focus on driving and retaining net depositing players.
- Removal of highest stakes tables.
- Protecting recreational players from "fish hunting."
- Rebalance bonus packages in favor of recreational players.
- Introduce new features to lobby and interface to benefit casual player.
The move is indicative of the online poker industry’s shift towards attracting and retaining recreational players instead of high-volume grinders.
Also in line with other operators, bwin.party is moving towards acquiring players directly rather than via affililates. On December 28, PokerStrategy announced that it has terminated partnerships with PartyPoker, bwin and WPT brands. In October, PokerStars revealed that the newly-launched Full Tilt would handle rakeback "in-house" as opposed to relying on affiliates.
888, which prides itself on its innovative, recreational approach, has lead the industry in the shift in focus from attracting professional grinders to seeking net-depositing fish.
"Our poker product is attractive to the casual player, and that’s our market...we actually encourage the fish to come into our pool and we dissuade sharks, or professional poker players," said 888 chief executive Brian Mattingley last autumn.
In the first nine months of 2012, 888's poker revenue spiked 50% to $63 million. Bwin.party, which will compete with Full Tilt in the traffic rankings, will hope the ongoing shift in focus will provide the boost needed to cement its place as the world's No. 2 poker platform.