It’s time to prepare for the future: 2014 and 2015 are just transition years as PokerStars recently announced ‘significant changes’ coming up for 2016.
If you are one of those who thinks the golden age of online poker will return, well, think again. The golden age with recreational players filling up the poker rooms and regulars basically printing money is gone and most likely, will never return. Just look at the signs.
Earlier this year, Unibet completely shifted its strategy and turned towards the recreational players. The company remodeled its software from scratch making it more rewarding, more social, and more fun for the amateurs who just want to have a good time at the tables. Party Poker tried to separate recreational players from the regulars while other operators like PokerHost and the Equity Poker Network went even further and banned the ‘aggressive’ players who took the amateurs’ money.
PokerStars and Full Tilt didn’t want to miss the wave and made their own experiments at the start of 2014: PS tried to make the high-stakes zoom-only and eliminate bum-hunting (without much success really) and FT implemented the new casino games.
Now, the new owner of the two poker rooms, Amaya Gaming can’t do much but follow the obvious trend in the industry. The implementation of the Spin & Go format is just the beginning.
As expected, the Spin & Go’s are attracting more and more gamblers because of the lottery system while other games like the cash tables and the Sit & Go’s are being depleted. Last week PS continued to lose ground in cash games as players flooded the new Spin & Go’s.
FT has also launched a new product recently: the new casino games with a live dealer. Moreover, PokerStars.es implemented variations of Roulette and Blackjack with slots anticipated to launch in 2015.
In other words, both platforms are trying to please the recreational players and offer them as many alternatives as possible. If that means getting them as far away from the ‘predatory’ environment, so be it! If that means canceling the edge of the poker professionals, so be it! If that means cutting some of the pros, so be it! If that means cutting some of the rewards…so be it?
Cutting The Regulars
Not so fast though. Remember that 2014 is just a transition year and according to two plus two PS representative so is 2015. He posted a few days ago:
There will be only one change to PokerStars.com and shared liquidity VIP Club reward effective from January 1, 2015: players earning 1 million VPPs will no longer be rewarded with $5,200 in WCOOP/TCOOP/SCOOP entries. Players who earn 1 million VPPs in 2014 will still earn this reward as advertised, in fact some have earned and used this reward already this year.
Basically, the rewards for Supernova Elite will be reduced by approximately 5% next year, compared to 2014. For 2016 however, things will be much different. PokerStars Steve added:
While we are making only this one change this year, it follows a substantial review of the PokerStars VIP Club conducted earlier this year. We are considering more significant changes for implementation in 2016. Details will be available in the second half of next year.
Many members of the community think that these ‘significant changes’ mean one thing: just like Unibet, Amaya’s main target shifted to the recreational niche. So the future can only bring drastic cuts for the regulars, more rewards for the amateurs, more gambling, and more new games in which the edge of the good poker player is severely crippled.
Inadvertently, sponsored pro Daniel Negreanu could have offered us a sneak peak of things to come in 2016, in a two plus two post from last week:
You guys don’t even want to know what I would do to the VIP programs if I was in charge. I would focus on giving bonuses to the LOSING players exclusively. They’d play more, last longer, and the pros would get the money in the end anyway
And if this is the case, the other operators will definitely follow the leading online poker room and take the same approach towards the recreational players.
For the professionals and Supernova Elites, this is definitely bad news. They are complaining about the Spin & Go format that had stolen their traffic, thus making it harder to reach the ultimate VIP level. Now they face an uncertain future that could literally let them without a job. So they are left with one of the two options: either continue whining, dream of a new golden age and hope for the best OR adapt to the new market conditions and embrace change. Because whether we like it or now, things DO actually change. Already, the wheels have been set in motion.
What are you going to do?