to submit your questions in the #ama_questions channel. All non-questions will be deleted in order to keep the channel clean for the AMA, along with anything abusive, so please keep it polite but feel free to ask anything you want, as long as it's Stars Rewards related.
I'll update this post with the full AMA once it has concluded.
For anyone who misses the AMA, still feel free to submit your questions as the Stars Rewards team will hang out in Discord and keep answering questions throughout the next week.
July 7, 2017 Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:02 PM Hello @everyone and welcome to today's AMA! We've received a lot of questions and feedback regarding the new Stars Rewards program and we wanted to take the time to address as many of them as possible. So, on that note, it is my pleasure to introduce @Dylan | Ravageur . Dylan is the Head of Customer Loyalty at PokerStars and has overseen the transition and launch of the new Stars Rewards program. He has been with PokerStars for over 6 years and is here to answer your questions today :smiley: Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:04 PM Hi Pete, thanks for having me on here. Looking forward to diving in to the questions and will do my best to provide some answers. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:06 PM Welcome welcome :smiley: I know you've been crazy busy putting this whole thing together, so let's jump straight in with some of the harder ones so that we can address them while our brains are still fresh... "PokerStars hate winning players and is doing everything to destroy online poker and turn it into casino? Do you really think your customers don’t understand what you’re doing? Shame on you" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:11 PM Oof, jumping right into the deep end I see. Well here we go...
We designed Stars Rewards to offer better rewards to net-depositing players than winning players as these players ultimately drive the poker economy. We want to encourage players to win at the table using their skill rather than playing primarily to maximise returns. One of the main differences between this program and the VIP Club system is that it ensures that volume is not a decisive factor like it was in the past to receive meaningful rewards.
It's not that we don't love winning poker players - we do. However, there's a difference between appreciating and celebrating winning poker players versus giving them additional rakeback on their winnings. A lot has changed over the course of eleven years since the VIP Club was first designed, and the online poker landscape is a different place now that needs a new program that better serves our diverse customer base. Since we implemented the changes in 2016 to reduce rewards for the highest-volume players, more hands are seeing the flop which indicates a more appealing table-dynamic and deposits are lasting longer for new and casual players. We no longer believe that the previous approach which allocated the majority of the rewards to winning high-volume players is the right direction for us.
I appreciate that this is not what many of you want to hear, and the significance of these changes is not lost on us. Our goal is to grow poker as a whole and a new and better designed rewards program is an important step towards achieving this. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:13 PM So, in simple terms, the goal is to keep net-depositing players playing the game, adding more money to the economy? Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:14 PM Put very simply, yes. The goal is to engage and retain new and casual depositing players, who are ultimately the backbone of the poker economy. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:16 PM Ok, thanks for the clarity there :smiley: We'll move swiftly on to another tough one... "Will PokerStars pocket the rakeback decrease or will it just be more distributed to losing players?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:20 PM I am already sensing a trend....
The overall percentage will decrease for poker. Casino and sportsbook will of course see an increase as they're giving more rewards where they previously hadn't. Loyalty remains our most significant spend as a company and we will continue to invest in the development and engagement of our players. We invest in poker far more than anybody else and we play to continue to invest in our innovations and our marketing. We announced this week that we are picking up the tab for 60,000 PKR customers left in the cold without their bankrolls, we've hired Usain Bolt and Kevin Hart to reach out beyond the current poker base to bring new people to the game, and with the launch of PokerStars PowerUp, a new poker product, we are again trying to bring in new players to the game and reactivate players.
This kind of stability & resilience comes at a price, but we believe these changes are working. The company and the ecosystem is healthier, and we believe recreational players are having more fun. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:23 PM Well then, that leads perfectly on to "I see people justifying the changes by saying it goes to recs yet I haven’t seen stats that they say the same amount of rakeback is being paid out?" asked by @Gosha(edited) Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:28 PM Because the program is personalised to each player, I don't think I'll be able to satisfy that question. I can share that most of our recreational players will receive a similar level of rewards as before, and in many cases players will receive more rewards.
I've heard a lot of players in the questions thread claiming that the program only offers 5% in rewards, but recreational players will receive much more than that and this is across the full spectrum of our player base. As an example, there are former Supernova VIPs who are now receiving more with Stars Rewards than they did in our previous program. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:30 PM Ah, that somewhat addresses my next question already "Can we get a tangible figure for RB now that the new rewards are in place? Party does 40%" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:34 PM Yes I think it does. The short answer is that Stars Rewards is not a traditional rakeback program. Rewards are personalised and can vary based on recent activity.
We cannot guarantee a specific level of rewards for any given player givena few factors:
-The rewards inside Chests are randomised -Progress bar requirements are personalised and may change based on recent activity. For example, a long-term winning player will need to earn more reward points to unlock a given Chest than a net-depositing player -Players receive additional reward points in Chests which are also randomised -Players who play more frequently will benefit from boosts, which net you double reward points when boosted. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:38 PM Given the untraditional nature of the Rewards program, people are finding it hard to find ways to compare it to the old one, maybe you can help with this? "Hey, greetings! My question as i have not yet understood ( and dont think it has been specified at all), is what is the ev of rakeback that the company is giving back? I understand that rewards are randomized and for 1 chest people can get different rewards depending on their vip status. But what i dont understand is how ev rakeback should a goldstar or a silverstar for instance expect to get on 1 month? with the previous system , to say , we knew a goldstar could get minimum 100 usd per month and platinum star 300. what is the difference ev wise in the new system? Thanks" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:39 PM That's a good question. First - Stars Rewards is a significant departure from the previous VIP Club program and it's very difficult to compare the two as it's apples and oranges. In general terms if you are a long-term winning player you will be receiving less rewards than previously. Other players will be receiving a similar level of rewards, or more, with Stars Rewards. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:46 PM Since we're changing things quite drastically for the winning players, maybe you can help explain where we received our positive feedback? "I would really like to know where the positive feedback has been found regarding Stars Rewards. Since I havent heard a single positive word from people I rate highly that have gotten their rakeback slashed from 27-35% to 4-5%" This question was asked both by @BarreMolenaar "LordBarre II" and @TilTinDuCeR Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:49 PM I had a feeling this one was coming :). A lot of what is posted about the program on forums and in the press originates mostly from winning players, who understandably are upset that they are receiving fewer rewards than previously. The program is designed to appeal more to recreational players. The level of engagement we have seen with the program so far in Denmark and Italy has exceeded our expectations. We have been reaching out since those launches to speak to recreational players about their experiences with Stars Rewards and the majority prefer the new program than the previous one. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:51 PM Speaking of the launches in Italy and Denmark, we received this question about how the launches there seemed "sketchy at best"... "Why did you switch from a transparent system to a non-transparent, “individual” one? I personally believe that the poker industry especially needs to be as transparent as possible. The way this has been rolled out in Italy and Denmark so far seems sketchy at best." Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:54 PM I agree that the poker industry needs to be as transparent as possible. However, while Stars Rewards is "individual" as he says, the probabilities and prize values for each Chest are published on our website and you can see how many points you need to unlock a Chest by clicking on your progress bar or visiting the 'My Stars' portal. In addition to the 'normal' Chest values on our webpage, there will be additional top prizes on a regular basis such as the $1,000 Chests we are currently awarding for launch. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 5:56 PM A recent question from @Croakspkr which ties in well with transparency... "why cant i review how many chests i've opened yet and what i got from them?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 5:58 PM You can contact Support at any time to receive a full audit of your Chests and everything that was in them. However, I agree that it would be beneficial if you could review them in-client, so I will add this to the list of future developments we'd like to add. Thanks for the feedback/suggestion @Croakspkr Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:01 PM And this one has come in from @Artello referencing a previous question... ""As an example, there are former Supernova VIPs who are now receiving more with Stars Rewards than they did in our previous program." It doesn't sound logical at all with rewards we have, unless some regs hit 1k from chests (which is luck, not a statistic)." Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:03 PM Just to clarify, long-term winning Supernova VIPs will be receiving much less. However, there are net-depositing former Supernovas who are receiving a similar level of rewards, and in some cases more. That isn't assuming they get lucky or win a $1K Chest. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:05 PM In terms of the rewards in general, there has been a lot of feedback regarding how different the size and frequency of the rewards are compared to what people are used to. That feedback has been accurately summed up by @IFlipBurgers in this question: "Do you believe that rewarding people with extremely small rewards (compared to the buyin of the games they play) at a high frequency gives them satisfaction and make them feel like a valued customer? So far, I've only heard feedback of people feeling insulted by these rewards and would go as far as to argue that they have a negative net effect on their playing experience, even compared to not receiving anything at all." Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:09 PM Unlike the previous program, Stars Rewards aims to reward players multiple times within a single session. Most of our players can only play a few times a month and we feel that offering them multiple opportunities to win something significant does, in fact, make them feel valued. Of course, there's no "one-size fits all" and some players would rather receive fewer Chests but that held a higher value, so there is a balance to be maintained. Like any other new product, we will be reviewing feedback from all our players and looking at the numbers to determine if we've found the right balance between frequency and value. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:11 PM That leads perfectly into "Are rewards completely finalised or are they very much experimental and subject to change?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:13 PM The rewards could change over time, yes, especially in regards to our top prizes. Currently we're awarding $1K Chests as the top prize, but, for example, when WCOOP comes around later this year Stars Rewards can award WCOOP tickets in Chests. In the future, these top prizes will change and can range from cash prizes, tickets, and exclusive physical items. FailFish1 Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:15 PM Okay! :smiley: Thank you very much for digging into some of the nitty gritty about EV and reward amounts with me, now I'm going to address some of the questions we've received about how everything functions We received this question "hey, im fairly sure i was on like 80% towards 2k vpp and didnt receive anything for it. isnt it supposed to convert? is this a problem more people ran into or just me" from @don artie , perhaps you could clarify? Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:17 PM Good question, and that shouldn't be the case. Players received the full prorated StarsCoin value for their in-progress VIP Step when Stars Rewards launched. You can verify having received this credit by going to your StarsCoin audit in Tools -> History & Stats of the desktop client. You can also just shoot our Support an email and they can check on your behalf and makes sure that you received everything you should have. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:20 PM Thank you for clearing that up :smiley: Now, in terms of the exact functionality, @Scoobydubious asked: "When you open your chests, what are the coins for that go to the right side of the chest? I think theymight be purple if I recall correctly."(edited) Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:22 PM Purple?!! They are green, and those are reward points :smiley: You get reward points everytime you open a Chest, so that your progress towards your next one gets kick-started. In poker you earn 100 reward points for every $1 in rake/tournament fees paid with the exception of high-stakes cash games. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:23 PM On that note, from @Caribou "What is the least amount of points necessary to clear a red chest? How many points, on average, will net depositors need to clear a red chest?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:28 PM That's a good one. Reward point requriements can vary over time, but for example, some higher-volume recreational players need to earn 8,000 reward points to unlock our biggest Platinum Chest. They will also receive on average 800 points every time they open it. Some of these also receive a boost of 4,000 points every 8 hours from their last one. Effectively, they need to earn 3,200 reward points to earn their first Platinum Chest each day (which is worth about $23.50 on average). Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:33 PM So in terms of this being more weighted for net-depositing recreational players @SetMiningWithKings asked "So that I can make a decision whether this is a better thing for players, or for Pokerstars - Has your average revenue per player gone up or down when you account for the new programme being in place?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:35 PM We certainly hope to increase engagement in our playerbase which ultimately should increase revenues, but it's much too early to say what the impact of Stars Rewards is given we only just launched in most areas this week! Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:38 PM In that case, asked by @TilTinDuCeR "Question: Do you think you as a company understand the gaming industry enough to try to emulate it and accurately project the success of such endeavour?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:42 PM There has been a massive amount of effort and research across the company in preparing for Stars Rewards based on years of data and experience in the industry. We're confident that this is a step in the right direction, and early indications in Denmark and Italy support this as well. So I guess in short, yes. But we are of course also listening to our players on all our channels (here, other forums, social media, customer support, 1-1 discussions, etc.) Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:46 PM Speaking of feedback from the players, we're seeing a lot of people asking for a more specific breakdown of what they need to do to earn their chests. "is there anywhere we can check the least and the most points requiered for a certain chest?" from @monroymx Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:48 PM Each individual can always click on the progress bar to see how many reward points they need to unlock a Chest. However, because these targets can vary over time based on recent activity, they aren't being published. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:50 PM Ok, good to know that it's easy for people to see what they need to do then :smiley: Let's burn through another couple of quick ones and then wrap this thing up so I don't leep you all night. "Will players be able to weed out the rewards that they will never use?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 6:53 PM If I remember correctly that question was referencing not wanting to recievemore than one freeroll ticket in a day. This is a great suggestion and something that we are actively looking to add to Stars Rewards functionality. Ideally once you receive, for example, a freeroll ticket for a weekly freeroll, you shouldn't receive the same ticket until the following week (and that prize would be replaced by something that isn't redundant). It's on our list of future developments that we'd like to add, and I hope we can add it in the coming months. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:55 PM So, to quickly summarise a question that is being asked a lot, are there any plans to decrease rake? Spin and Go's and PLO seem to be mentioned a lot here "With such reduction in rewards to SN Winning players, is there a chance that (for example) Spin and go rake might be decreased a bit to compensate, because as of it is today, average 60$ limit player regular was earning around 44% of his overall profits from rakebacks, because there are a lot of regulars in the pool, only a handful of crushers get better results (in chipEV) than that to stay comfortable withouth rakeback" Dylan | Ravageur - Yesterday at 6:57 PM That's a popular question. We are constantly evaluating pricing and the economy of each game. However, at this time there are no plans to decrease rake. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 6:57 PM That being the case... "Wouldn’t they be making more money if they brought back the old vip system which incentivized volume players coming back = more rake being paid?" Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 7:02 PM This is a good question as there are quite a lot of misconceptions out there on this topic. There is a very high overlap between "volume players" and "winning players". This is pretty intuitive given poker is a skill game and you improve the more you play. The poker economy is fuelled by deposits, which for the most part originate from low to medium-volume players. This is one of the main reason that the level of rewards players receive through Stars Rewards is not solely based on volume, so that we can allocate rewards to the players who contribute the most to the poker economy (and of course, our company). Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 7:05 PM Thank you for explaining that :smiley: Ok, I hope that this session has helped to clear things up for a few people, @Dylan | Ravageur thank you very much for taking the time out of your day to do this with us. I know that we haven't managed to address everything which we've been asked, but Dylan will be around throughout the coming week to hop in here and answer more FAQ as they arise. If there are an absolute tonne of questions, we will schedule a second AMA for some time next week :smiley: Dylan | Ravageur
- Yesterday at 7:08 PM Sure - thanks for having me Pete and I appreciate all the questions and feedback from the players. I know that not everyone will love the answers, but I'll continue to chime in here next weeek to try and answer questions as they come up. Sure - I'd be down to do this again. Cheers. Pete Simm | Ice3lade
- Yesterday at 7:09 PM Awesome, thank you again for joining us!
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