888 Holding

888 Trying to Attract PokerStars Players During Boycott

The PokerStars boycott is in its second day and while onlookers are curious, waiting to see how things turn out, one competitor is trying to take advantage of what it sees as an opportunity. 888poker, the second largest online poker room in the world, behind only PokerStars, is looking to strike while the iron is at least a little bit warm by launching a few (likely) temporary changes to some of its offerings in an attempt to draw in some of the players foregoing PokerStars this week.

As has been reported, a swath of PokerStars customers are staging a boycott of the site this week in protest of the poker room’s recently announced changes to its VIP program. The boycott was organized by a group of Russian players while poker pro Dani “Ansky” Stern also stepped up to lead the charge and help communicate the concerns held by many Stars players. The boycott began at midnight ET on December 1st and is scheduled to run through December 3rd. The Russian player who started the call to action has also said that more is in the works for January.

PokerStars announced many VIP changes a month ago (to take effect January 1, 2016), most of which were designed to hurt high-stakes, high-volume players and supposedly, in turn, to help recreational players. Amongst the changes are the elimination of VPPs for high-stakes cash games, a new cap on Supernova Elite (SNE) rewards for next year, and the complete extinction of the SNE VIP status as of January 1, 2017. Amaya Gaming’s VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser wrote at the time of the announcement:

The reason we are focused on the highest status levels is because these rewards have become so enticing that we have inadvertently altered why some people play and how they play. 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.

Stern begs to differ, saying that PokerStars and Amaya Gaming have “deceived SNE players about benefits they would receive.”

He added, “While PokerStars claims the changes are to provide relief to recreational players, there is no such change happening. They are telling their players outright lies, and we will not stand for it. Beyond that, it follows an ongoing trend that PokerStars/Amaya has been taking in recent years. A site that was once clearly for the players, has completely lost sight of that.”

And thus, the boycott, which looks like it has garnered at least 2,500 participants (of course, others may be joining in and not making their names public). While those players, many of whom reside at the high stakes tables, avoid PokerStars, 888poker is making a push to get them to migrate to its site.

On Two Plus Two, a representative of 888poker laid out three changes to its product offerings, all of which are presumably temporary (he said, “we decided to make the next few days special). In a direct appeal to high stakes players, 200PL and higher Omaha tables will see their rake slashed in half, from 5 percent to 2.5 percent. Two new daily tournaments have been added:

1. $55 buy-in, $5,000 guaranteed 8-max special at 13:00 GMT
2. $30 buy-in, $5,000 guaranteed Turbo special at 15:00 GMT (no game type was listed)

And finally, 22 scheduled tournaments have had their prize pool guarantees increased:

Regular GuaranteedSpecial GuaranteedBuy inStart Time (GMT)
The $85,000 Tuesday VolcanoThe $100,000 Tuesday Volcano$60019:30
The $30,000 Thursday QuarterbackThe $35,000 Thursday Quarterback$21519:30
The $25,000 Tuesday CrocodileThe $30,000 Tuesday Crocodile$16017:30
The $15,000 Crocodile (Midweek)The $20,000 Crocodile (Midweek)$16017:30
The $30,000 Tuesday ChallengeThe $35,000 Tuesday Challenge$10920:35
The $7,000 Lightning 6-MaxThe $8,000 Lightning 6-Max$10914:00
The $10,000 TornadoThe $12,000 Tornado$10920:15
The $6,000 HurricaneThe $8,000 Hurricane$10921:45
The $10,000 BreezeThe $12,000 Breeze$5515:45
The $5,000 TwisterThe $6,000 Twister$5511:00
The $7,500 Thunder 6-Max Second ChanceThe $8,000 Thunder 6-Max Second Change$5519:35
The $5,000 CycloneThe $6,000 Cyclone$5502:20
The $5,000 Typhoon Second ChanceThe $5,000 Typhoon Second Chance$5509:00
The $7,500 SwordfishThe $8,000 Swordfish$3018:00
The $5,000 Turbo SwordfishThe $6,000 Turbo Swordfish$3022:00
The $3,000 Super Turbo SwordfishThe $4,000 Super Turbo Swordfish$3000:00
The $8,000 Guaranteed Turbo R&AThe $10,000 Guaranteed Turbo R&A$519:00
The $1,000 Turbo BlowfishThe $1,500 Turbo Blowfish$518:00
The $1,000 Super Turbo BlowfishThe $1,200 Super Turbo Blowfish$523:00
The $1,000 GoldfishThe $1,200 Goldfish$120:00
The $600 Turbo GoldfishThe $700 Turbo Goldfish$115:00
The $300 Super Turbo GoldfishThe $400 Super Turbo Goldfish$102:00

888poker isn’t expecting to suddenly grab a couple thousand players from PokerStars, but even convincing a fraction of the boycotters to give 888 regular action in the long run could be a big help. According to PokerScout.com’s numbers, PokerStars is far and away the largest poker room on the internet with a seven-day average of 14,500 cash game players. Compare that to 888poker, the second largest site, which only has a seven-day average 2,400 players. And while 888 won’t be catching PokerStars any time soon, it likely won’t fall out of second in the near future, either, as the next site, Bodog, has just 1,800 cash game players on average.

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