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There’s a lot going on right now. A lot.
The thought of discussing all of it in great detail is simply too daunting. I suppose I could close the laptop and try to start this entry another day, but I’m pretty sure that more important news will break in the next 24-72 hours and then I’ll have to commit to an even greater word count.
Alright, let’s gloss over the easy stuff first. October was my first month playing ‘Spin and Gos’ as my main format. I did throw in a handful of SNGs, but 99% of my volume (5600+ games) was of the 3-handed 500 chip games. Results are mixed. In the past I had used a program known as SpinWiz which allowed me to game select, but the program was banned at the end of September leaving me no choice but to jump in with the rest of the player pool. Naturally it meant I’d see a reduction in my overall edge and that did happen, albeit slightly. I still managed to put up very respectable numbers and have one of the better cEVs at $60s/$100s, unfortunately that didn’t translate into piles of real money because I ran $13,o00 under expectation. Still, postRB I ended October +$20k, so glass half full.
Other cool stuff has happened in the last few days as well: I reached 800,000 VPPs, streamed one of my SNG sessions on Twitch, and saved up enough FPPs (3.1 Million) to buy the Porsche. Unfortunately, some other news has arisen that makes all of this stuff less important to talk about.
A few days ago, a Russian version of the PokerStars site was accidentally leaked and it revealed details of their plan for the VIP program in 2016. Some of the details were misleading, incorrectly translated, re-worked, or flat-out wrong, and this morning I recieved an email from PokerStars revealing their actual plan of action.
2016 VIP Club Changes
Today we are releasing the changes to the 2016 VIP Club.
For you as a Supernova Elite VIP, there are significant changes that will be implemented on January 1st, 2016. The benefits cap for players who earn Supernova Elite in 2015 will be 45% in 2016. For all other players who earn >200,000 VPPs, rewards will be capped at 30%. By January 1, 2017, Supernova Elite VIP status will be discontinued.
The significance of this change is not lost on us. Supernova Elite VIP status has been one of the hallmarks of the VIP Club for years. The dedication and passion demonstrated by our highest status VIPs has been astounding.
It’s not a decision that we considered lightly; it’s being made after months of analysis and investigation to find the best possible model for the long-term viability of our poker ecosystem.
Currently, Supernova Elites in their second year of the program receive 68% rakeback so cutting it to 45% is a rather big chunk. To put it in terms of actual money, this year I will pay $181,000 in rake and receive $123,000 of that back. Under the new VIP program, I only receive $81,000 — I’m losing $42,000. But alright, if it’s for the ‘long-term viability of our poker ecosystem,’ I can understand that. So how exactly is my money being redistributed to the players in lower VIP tiers?
That’s probably my biggest gripe with the new changes; not the fact that they’re effectively stealing forty grand from my pockets, but that they’re doing so with the guise of it being good for the poker economy yet all my money is just being stuffed into their own pockets. Let’s take a look at some of the primary changes.
• No VPPs for pot-limit and no-limit games with blinds of $5-$10+, 8-game $10-$20+, and other limit games with blinds of $10-$15+ (limit hold’em of stakes $15-$30 and higher). This change is implemented due to the increasing transaction costs and operation costs of monitoring these games.
Huh? So high-stakes cash game players go from earning 30-68% rakeback to…zero? Zero percent? A slight reduction could be expected, or perhaps a slight rake increase. This is neither. What this is — is a fucking joke. One full table of SNEs would pay $1.8 Million in rake over the course of a year; I can’t imagine the games cost THAT much to ‘operate and monitor.’
• PlatinumStar VIPs will see a reduction of up to 10% in their overall rewards.
• The $1M Supernova Quarterly freeroll will be removed.
• VIP Steps will reward StarsCoin, which will be valued at a consistent rate of $0.01 each. Frequent Player Points can be redeemed at current rates until the end of the year, at which point every player will receive 1.2 StarsCoin for every 1 FPP in their account balance.
• Most players between BronzeStar and GoldStar statuses will earn a similar level of rewards as they currently do.
So most players in the lower tiers get the same OR less rakeback then under the previous sytstem, plus they don’t get to participate in the $1M Supernova Quarterly freeroll. On top of that, the transition from FPPs to StarsCoins actually devalues the player point currency — Starcoins are worth 1 cent each, FPPs are currently worth 1.6 cents and StarCoins are being converted to FPPs at 1.2-1.
In short, these changes are bad for everyone. PokerStars wants to present itself as a Robin Hood-like defender and redistribute wealth in this industry to make for a more sustainable poker economy, but they’re not taking from the rich and giving to the poor — they’re taking from all of their customers, the most from their most loyal ones, and giving it to themselves.
I’m going to rant more about this in the next few days about how it affects me personally, not sure if I’ll use the blog or Twitch. Find me at www.twitch.com/abarone68.