When a player signs up for a new account on PokerStars, he or she becomes a member of the VIP Club, a rewards system established to reward players for their loyalty and frequent play. It is a way to track a player’s growth in the game of poker over time, set goals and mark achievements, and earn bonuses.
Recent changes to the overall VIP system, however, eliminated the highest honor available, which was PokerStars Supernova Elite. As of 2016, other changes included the new StarsCoin instead of Frequent Player Points, as well as changes to rake and the most recent elimination of some heads-up cash game tables. But the high-volume players are most upset about PokerStars Supernova Elite.
By playing regular cash games, tournaments, and even Spin & Gos, players earn points, which are now called StarsCoin. The “steps system” is set up to track progress toward rewards and status, which increases with the frequency and level of play.
StarsCoin is the virtual currency earned by completing steps. By playing real-money games, a progress bar marks the level of achievement in coins, and players are then alerted to their status at various points throughout the month, especially if a player is close to completing a step or improves status. All players start with BronzeStar status. The next VIP step is ChromeStar, which requires 100 points, and another 500 brings the player to SilverStars status. Another 2,500 achieves GoldStar, and 7,500 beyond that puts the player in the elite PlatinumStar category.
While most points are accrued on a monthly basis, the annual accumulation of points counts toward Supernova VIP status. Those who reach 100,000 points in one year or less earn PokerStars Supernova status.
Once a player becomes a PokerStars Supernova, they are able to maintain the status for the remainder of the current year and the entire year that follows, but the rate of play must be maintained in order to stay at that level going forward from that point.
All StarsCoin earned as a Supernova player can be used to purchase items in the VIP store, as well as packages to live tournaments and events, such as those on the European Poker Tour and other PokerStars-sponsored games. They are also eligible to play in a number of weekly and monthly tournaments with more than $150K in guarantees, most of which are free for Supernovas.
No More PokerStars Supernova Elite
The highest status previously available for players on PokerStars was the Supernova Elite, which required quite a lot of hours to achieve. It was a yearly goal rather than a monthly one, and players who dedicated enough time and effort received perks online and at PokerStars-sponsored live events.
The changed announced in late 2015, however, reduce the benefits of the high-volume players as much as 60 percent. In addition, since PokerStars Supernova Elite status was supposed to benefit players for the year following the achievement, players argue that they are being cheated out of those benefits. Further, they claim that PokerStars breached their agreement with players by promising benefits for the work of achieving that status, and that is being taken away.
In essence, the PokerStars changes that took effect on January 1, 2016, included a cap on rewards for players who earn more than 200,000 VIP points, and players who earned PokerStars Supernova Elite in 2015 will receive rewards of 45 percent rakeback in 2016. The status and its benefits will be eliminated altogether by the first day of 2017.
Even Supernova rewards for 2016 are being decreased by up to 27 percent, and VPPs will not be earned in high-stakes cash games. And benefits like concierge service for Supernova and PokerStars Supernova Elite players are being discontinued.
The purpose of the changes is to place an overall focus on recreational players, but the high-volume players felt disrespected and ignored. Boycotts of PokerStars took place in the months that followed, and some players even met with Amaya representatives at the company headquarters to discuss their differences. No changes came from that meeting, though. PokerStars Supernova Elite is no more.