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VIP Changes Cap PokerStars Rakeback at 30%

pokerstars-warningPokerStars has taken a machete to VIP rewards for high volume online poker players. From January 1, 2016, the maximum Rakeback equivalent value which VIP benefits will be worth is 30%.

The Supernova Elite VIP status will continue through 2016 for those who have earned it this year, but benefits will be capped at 45% of Rakeback and the level will be scrapped from 1 Jan 2017.

PokerStars expects the VIP scheme changes to make the following differences in the level of benefits received by each VIP level.

  • BronzeStar - No change 
  • ChromeStar - Up to 10% increase
  • SilverStar - No change
  • GoldStar - No change
  • PlatinumStar - Up to 10% decrease
  • Supernova - 0%-27% decrease
  • Players earning 200k+VPPs - 44%-60% decrease (30% rakeback cap)

The detailed changes will be posted soon, but broadly the VIP Club changes are as follows:

  • All rewards will be given in a new currency, StarsCoin, each of which will have a fixed value of $0.01
  • All Frequent Player Points (FPP) will be converted to StarsCoin on January 1 at a rate of 1.2 StarsCoin for every FPP. Note that the current best value for FPPs is $0.016, so players at Silver Star and above should convert all their FPPs before the new scheme takes over.
  • Players can use their FPPs as they currently do to purchase cash bonuses, tournament tickets and merchandise at current FPP prices until midnight ET, December 31.
  • All prices in the VIP Store, including tournament tickets and cash rewards, will be updated on January 1 to reflect the StarsCoin value of $0.01.
  • Tournament buy-ins will be updated to StarsCoin values.
  • All current rewards – FPPs, Stellar Rebates, and Milestone Rebates – will be consolidated into a single form of reward called StarsCoin earned via VIP Steps
  • Players who earn Stellar Rebates and Milestone Rebates in 2015 will still be able to purchase them in the VIP Store in 2016.

VPP Multiplier Changes

At PokerStars, FPPs are awarded on the basis of the amount of VIP Player Points (VPP) earned, adjusted by a multiplier depending on VIP level.

The amount of VPPs which will be awarded per unit of rake paid is also changing.

“VPPs will not be earned in high-stakes cash games. High-stakes cash games include pot-limit and no-limit games with blinds of $5-$10 or higher, 8-game $10-$20 or higher, and other limit games with blinds of $10-$15 or higher (limit hold’em of stakes $15-$30 and higher).” PokerStars explains that the reason for this decision is to compensate for the extra cost the site incurs in putting on high stakes games.

Extra costs come from higher financial transaction processing charges, extra security costs and extra compliance costs to do with anti-money laundering regulations.

Currently HU, 6-Max and Full Ring games award different multiples of VIP points. This will change so that 5.5 VPPs will be awarded for each $1.00 USD or CAD in fee paid; 6.5 VPPs for each €1.00 EUR in fee paid, or 8.25 VPPs for each £1.00 GBP in fee paid for all tables, no matter how many are seated at the table.

The advantageous treatment given to the lowest stake cash games will continue.

Cash games at stakes of $0.01/$0.02 will pay out 10 VPP per $ in rake or 12 per Euro. At $0.02/$0.05 8.5 VPP will be awarded and for €0.02/€0.05 – 10 VPP. At $0.05/$0.10 players will receive 7 VPP for every dollar paid or 9 VPP at the Euro tables.

VIP Steps

A further change is the introduction of VIP Steps. Under the Steps system, players do not receive points as they play. Instead, the points—StarsCoins—will be released in blocks each time a step is completed.

The scheme is currently being trialled in the UK, and for players on the Bronze VIP tier, there are 20 steps to complete. At the Platinum level, there are 110 steps. Once a player has completed all the steps for the VIP level, he will automatically be promoted to the next higher level.

Tables display a progress bar showing how much of the current step has been completed, and how many FPPs will be released when they complete the step.

The Step system in use in the UK comes with an incentive in the form of a 10% bonus for every five steps completed. Conversely, if the month ends before players have completed their current step, they only receive 50% of the FPPs they have earned for that step.

The global Steps system to be introduced on January 1 is likely to follow the UK model closely, but details are yet to be confirmed.

PokerStars Wants to Reward Poker Skill

“The significance of this change is not lost on us,” PokerStars explained. “The dedication and passion demonstrated by our highest status VIPs has been astounding. We are introducing these changes to move towards a more balanced long-term poker economy and to return the game back to one that rewards skill via winning at the tables rather than playing primarily for volume.”

For recreational players, the changes are definitely a plus. They are getting more protection from regular players with the promise of extra restrictions on third party software, and the value of their VIP scheme as a Rakeback equivalent will probably increase.

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On the poker forums there is not much happiness being expressed about the changes. High volume players will potentially lose a lot of their online poker income.

The Americas Cardroom VIP Scheme was Based on PokerStars

While PokerStars is unlikely to lose much traffic from its tournaments, cash tables could lose many high volume regulars who can no longer profit from the games without the extra Rakeback from the VIP scheme.

For players determined to move their cash game play from the world’s most popular poker room, Black Chip Poker may be the surprising beneficiary.

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Black Chip Poker is a poker room on the Winning Poker Network. Its sibling the Americas Cardroom focuses on giving US players somewhere safe, reliable and exciting to play online poker. Black Chip has a broader player base with a much larger European contingent.

CEO Phil Nagy told Rakeback that he virtually copied the PokerStars VIP scheme for the WPN. Milestone rewards and high levels of Rakeback rewards are very much available at Americas Cardroom and Black Chip Poker.

In the last two years, cash game traffic has doubled and Phil is determined to keep offering $1 million guaranteed tournaments. Players in search of a home with a VIP scheme as much like PokerStars as possible should take a look at Americas Cardroom and Black Chip Poker.

By Joss Wood Rakeback.com Content Manager

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