Posts Tagged ‘Amaya Gaming’

Baazov, Negreanu, Stern to discuss PokerStars Changes

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

david-baazov-pokerstarsPoker player Dani Stern was instrumental in leading a 3-day strike against PokerStars after they made huge changes to their VIP program. And while it doesn’t look like the strike has convinced Stars to reverse the changes – many of which hurt high-volume regulars – it will at least facilitate a meeting.

According to Stern, he will meet with Daniel Negreanu and David Baazov (CEO of PokerStars’ parent company Amaya Gaming) to discuss the site from the pros’ perspectives. Here’s a look at what Stern tweeted:

Well one good thing to come of this: According to @RealKidPoker, we will be getting a meeting with Baazov. Details unknown right now.

As you can see here, some players are less than enthusiastic about Stern’s meeting with Baazov and other PokerStars executives. After all, no meeting is likely to change what the poker site has done, including slashing mid and high-stakes rewards and eliminating the Supernova Elite VIP level. But it at least opens up some line of communication between prominent players and PokerStars.

daniel-negreanu-pokerstarsDaniel Negreanu discussed this in his blog at FullContactPoker by writing:

I was also able to ensure that players would have the opportunity to meet with the higher ups from here on out to discuss important issues in regards to the relationship between the company and the players. That has always been something PokerStars has done effectively, and it will continue to happen. I spoke with Dani Stern and Isaac Haxton as well as many other top online pros about joining me and the upper management in regularly scheduled meetings. I think this is extremely important. Communication the last 12-18 months between the players and the company has not been good enough and I think this will go a long way towards improving it.

PokerStars originally made changes to their VIP program so that they could take rewards from high-volume players and disperse them to a wider range of players. This fits in with their growing tendency to favor recreational players above all else. But it’s also nice to hear that they’ll at least give some pros a chance to be heard before they make any massive changes in the future.

Daniel Negreanu addresses PLO Rake Complaints with PokerStars

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

daniel-negreanu-plo-rakeAs perhaps the most-recognizable face at PokerStars, Daniel Negreanu hears many questions and complaints from those who play there. And the latest issue to arise involves PLO rake at PokerStars, which many players think has become far too high.

It’s tough to argue this point when considering that low-stakes PLO features rake that’s over 100% higher than NLHE games. Negreanu has been well aware of the problem since March, when he discussed the matter on Joe “ChicagoJoey” Ingram’s podcast. More recently, he answered disgruntled posters on TwoPlusTwo, which is usually a losing battle no matter how you slice it. Here’s one post from Kid Poker:

Totally on board and have been for some time on this issue. Coincidentally I have a meeting later today and was already planning on bringing this issue up again. Obviously I can’t make any promises since I don’t have the power to make these decisions, but I can promise you that I will do my best to make a case for an adjustment here. Thanks for the additional summary showing the rake differences between NLHE. I will log that and bring it to the meeting.

If you’re thinking that this made Negreanu some quick buddies, well, you’d be wrong and right. Some applauded the 6-time WSOP champion for stepping in and actually interacting with players. Others brought up old comments that Negreanu made about how winning players are hurting the game, and that he believes it’s perfectly within Amaya Gaming’s right to raise rake at PokerStars.

Whatever may have been said in the past, it’s clear that Kid Poker is at least willing to voice players concerns with Stars. Furthermore, he actually responds to players via social media and forums, something that other famous pros in their ivory towers (or Panorama Towers in Vegas) could take notes on.

Back to the original point, will Negreanu’s talk with Amaya yield any results? He said himself in the forum post that there are no guarantees, and it appears that he has about as much pull as a 5-year-old in tug-o-war. Still, it would be nice if he could have some small effect on influencing Amaya in this PLO rake matter.

Daniel Negreanu fully agrees with PokerStars’ Changes

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

PokerStars has started to look like a completely different site over the past few months. They’ve dropped famous pros, increased rake for certain games, introduced Spin & Gos, added currency exchange rates and have reduced upper VIP rewards.

Obviously you don’t make all of these changes without ruffling a few feathers, which is exactly what’s happened in PokerStars’ case. Many regulars are outraged because some of the moves directly affect their bottom line. And they are pointing the finger directly at Amaya Gaming, which recently purchased Stars for $4.9 million.

But the company’s most-prominent sponsored player, Daniel Negreanu, thinks a little differently on the matter. Writing in his blog at FullContactPoker, Negreanu explained that many of PokerStars’ recent moves are meant to bring new players to the game, rather than gouge everybody for money. He also explains that most of these changes were coming before Amaya bought the site:

I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions about some of the recent changes at PokerStars and throw in my two cents. First of all, I think it’s really important to note that most of the recent changes were going to happen well before the new ownership group took over. The online poker landscape has changed over the last few years and many of these changes were inevitable in a competitive market for the company to continue to be the world leader. While I get it, nobody gets excited over rake increases, I think it’s really important to note that PokerStars remains the cheapest place to play online poker. The rake increases are still smaller than what the competition offer, and that’s before you account for the generous VIP programs.

It’s not hard to tell who’s side Negreanu is on after reading this post. So his opinion definitely won’t win him any favor with some of the die-hard regulars at PokerStars. But he and Stars both maintain that the changes are necessary to stay competitive with other poker sites and draw new players.

There’s probably definitely some truth to this, however, most of the players’ complaints about increased rake and currency fees also hold validity – especially when Stars is far and away the market leader.

Will Amaya Gaming finally get PokerStars in the US?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

The big poker news today – and it’s colossal – is that Amaya Gaming has made a deal with the Rational Group to buy PokerStars, Full Tilt and live tournament tour assets for $4.9 billion. For years people have speculated about the worth of PokerStars and now they know.

One of the key points of this deal is that Isai Scheinberg and his son, Mark, relinquish their shares in the company and ride off into the sunset with billions. The reason why this part of the deal is so big is because it means that PokerStars might finally be able to enter the elusive United States market.

The legal US online poker market is fully underway, with Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada all featuring regulated gaming sites. And so far, PokerStars’ attempts to enter these states have went like this:

Delaware – Stars was denied because Delaware is mainly looking for companies that offer both casino and poker games.

New Jersey – Review of PokerStars’ application has been suspended for two years in the Garden State.

Nevada – Nevada evoked the “bad actor” clause to prevent Stars from entering their market for at least 10 years.

The key point behind PokerStars’ bad actor status in Nevada is that they violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Moreover, the Scheinberg’s retained ownership of the Rational Group after they’d violated the UIGEA.

But now we have Amaya running the show at PokerStars. The Canadian supplier of gambling equipment has no ties to Black Friday, meaning it’s hard to use the bad actor excuse to keep them out.

Of course, despite what state gaming regulatory bodies may say, this is all about anti-competitiveness and helping in-state casinos get off to a strong start. So no matter how illogical it seems, certain US states may still try to call upon PokerStars’ past to keep them out, even though an entirely different company is now in charge.

As for Amaya, it’s likely that they were willing to spend $4.9 billion on Rational’s assets because they know there’s even more potential for Stars IF they can get into the US.

Former Absolute Poker COO Paul Leggett back in Online Poker

Monday, May 6th, 2013

A sizable portion of the poker community have collectively raised their eyebrows over a big hire. Former Absolute Poker COO Paul Leggett is now going to be taking the same position with Canada’s Amaya Gaming. As both Pokerfuse and eGaming reported, he’ll replace former Amaya COO Paul Bertilsson, who will stay on with the company in another role.

Leggett is an interesting, if not controversial hire because he was Absolute Poker’s head man during Black Friday. This day started Absolute’s demise and saw them eventually go offline with millions of dollars in player deposits. So it’s quite strange that Amaya Gaming would want to bring on such a murky figure.

As for his role with Amaya, he’ll oversee the company’s newest purchase, the Ongame Network. Ongame is one of the oldest networks in the poker industry, and they’ve lost some major traffic in recent years. One of their largest rooms, bwin, joined Party Poker, which fueled Ongame’s drop from the fifth most heavily-trafficked network to the 18th most popular.

Leggett’s job will be to help Ongame regain some of their lost traffic and move back up the ladder. However, it’ll be interesting to see if his new role has any effect on Ongame’s new position in the regulated Nevada internet poker market. Last year Ongame signed a deal to provide software for Bally Technologies, which obtained an online poker license from Nevada.

Perhaps just as important as the licensing aspect is what players will think of Leggett’s hiring. The Absolute Poker name doesn’t exactly carry a good reputation because of all the player deposits they never refunded. So with Leggett now heading Ongame, players who were burned by Absolute might think twice about depositing with their Nevada-based poker room.