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Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved. Poker History. Editor: Erik Smith.
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POKERSTARS UNVEILS CONTROVERSIAL CHANGES TO RAKE AND VIP PROGRAMS

Following what at that point seemed to be an industry-wide trend, PokerStars in late December 2011 announced that it too was aiming at introducing a series of changes to its existing rake- and VIP programs.

Having previously opted for a fixed formula for calculating a player’s VIP status, PokerStars announced a change to a more flexible and individually determined system, based on the player in question’s actual contribution to the dealt hand, also called the “dealt” method of calculating rake. In order for a PokerStars player to receive rakeback under the original scheme, he or she would achieve a VIP status based on his or hers accumulated VIP Player Points, calculated straight from participation in the games.

Under the new scheme, set to launch on January 1st 2012, the “dealt” method would be replaced by a “weighted contribution” system. Under this system, a player would receive VPPs in proportion to how much money they contributed to the pot. This proportion would then serve as a basis for calculating VIP status and VPP payouts, meaning effective rakeback rates.

Controversy

PokerStars’ plans to alter its rakeback calculations did not go unnoticed in the online poker community. As the largest provider of online poker games in the world, the changes had drastic effects on many regular players’ potential rakeback payouts, and the announcement quickly caused an outcry of protests among the site’s most loyal players.

Concerns were voiced on a number of large poker forums online, and even resulted in a brief sit-out protests, in which scores of players chose to sit out in the PokerStars ring games to raise awareness about the unpopular changes.

Eventually, PokerStars agreed to meet five players from the TwoPlusTwo forum at the PokerStars headquarters at the Isle of Man. The meeting resulted in a slight rollback of some of the announced changes, including guarantees that the changes would have a lighter effect on the most loyal players than first foreseen. These players – the so-called Supernova and Supernova Elite players – would under the agreement be allowed to maintain their VIP statuses, as long as the met the old requirements throughout 2012. This allowed many of the high-volume players to keep up their rakeback payout levels, and helped push through the proposal through a compromise that minimized the effect on these few, but important, regulars.

PokerStars updated rakeback policy has been in place since February 2012, and has by now been implemented across all the national platforms as well. With the changes, PokerStars proved to be able to muscle through some of the most radical and far-reaching rakeback policy changes in online poker history, however, still while listening to the backbone of its business, the regular, high-volume grinders.

Today, PokerStars continues to dominate the online poker industry, and as the first wave of controversy has now passed, the company remains a favorite option for regulars and recreational players alike.