Many poker pros have been angry ever since hearing in November that their PokerStars VIP benefits would be slashed. Even some of the sponsored players like Ike Haxton and Alex Millar quit PokerStars in protest. Well, the parent company, Amaya Gaming, has heard these players loud and clear and recently sat down with a few pros to discuss the changes.
Haxton, Dani Stern and Daniel Dvoress were all invited to Amaya’s headquarters to have a meeting that also included PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu. The hope for them was that they could get some benefits back for grinders, but this apparently didn’t happen. In a post on TwoPlusTwo, Stern describes the meeting as unproductive and filled with unconvincing arguments. Here’s one excerpt from the post:
Going into the meeting, our highest priority was to address PokerStars’ decision not to give the 2016 rewards they had promised to players earning SN and SNE statuses in 2015. We presented our view that the VIP program, as advertised on the PokerStars website until November 2015, was an agreement between PokerStars and the impacted players. We emphasized that failing to honor that agreement is not just a “miscommunication,” but an ongoing breach of trust. We reminded them that it is not too late to make it right.
Although the PokerStars and Amaya representatives were apologetic and expressed regret at the impact that the decision has had on players’ perception of the brand, we did not make any real progress on this point. They denied having any firm obligation to give 2015 SNs and SNEs the rewards they were promised and asserted that they did not feel that doing so would be in the best interests of their business.
In the end, it doesn’t look like the meeting was so much about compromising with professional grinders, but rather trying to convince them the the VIP changes were necessary. And given that PokerStars previously stated in their terms and conditions that any player who achieved Supernova Elite level in 2015 would be qualified in 2016, the players have a good argument.
On the other hand, Amaya is a business and their responsibility is to profits – not pro players. So it’s doubtful that Amaya ever changes their position on the VIP changes, especially if traffic is going good.