okerStars’ Stars Rewards Program

PokerStars Stars Rewards Goes Global This Week

Happy Independence Day to everyone in the United States! Too bad we’re not free to play online poker; this article is not for you. So turn off your computer, get outside, and don’t blow off any of your fingers today. The rest of you may be interested to know that PokerStars has announced that its new loyalty program, Stars Rewards (nothing like a name that gets right to the point), is going live on all of its sites – except for New Jersey – this week. Today, July 4th, it rolls out to Portugal, Spain, and France. On Thursday, July 6th, the Stars Rewards program rolls out to the rest of PokerStars’ territories.

“We have designed an exciting and inclusive program that will appeal to all kinds of players. We aim to make every game count and reward their loyalty whatever they feel like playing,” said Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars, a press release Tuesday.

In a spring blog post, Rasset hit on some of the reasoning behind the transformation of PokerStars’ loyalty program:

Poker is a game of wits with players competing against each other for fun, for competition and for profit. Our goal in managing poker is always to maintain that delicate balance and deliver the best possible playing experience while doing so. Since 2006, our loyalty program has encouraged volume rather than competition. It has been a tremendous success and was the right approach for many years. However, the environment has changed. The game has matured; the profile of our players has changed.

What PokerStars is looking to do here is to make its rewards less attractive to high-volume, high-stakes grinders and potentially more rewarding for recreational players. Players will still have to grind out hands and tournaments to receive their rewards, but the rewards will now also be based on things like net deposits, stakes, and frequency of play (then again, the latter two were really factors previously).

The “net deposits” portion is notable because this implies that recreational players, who tend to lose more than “regulars” and therefore need to make follow-up deposits, will be treated more favorable in terms of Stars Rewards, all other things being equal.

As for how Stars Rewards will actually work, players will receive 100 rewards points for every €1 paid in rake or tournament fees. The points will accumulate toward some prescribed target number, a number which will be different for each player.

When a player hits that target, which can be seen in the poker client via a progress bar, the player will receive a “Chest” as a reward. There are six types of Chests in Stars Rewards, each of which has as maximum prize value:

Red Chest – €50 max
Blue Chest – €100 max
Bronze Chest – €250 max
Silver Chest – €500 max
Gold Chest – €750 max
Platinum Chest – €1,000 max

The prize can be any combination of cash, tournament tickets, casino play, free sports bets, extra rewards points, etc. Don’t expect to see all of these things, though. Fortunately, Stars Rewards will be tailored to each player, so if a PokerStars player has never made a sports bet, he will not receive sports betting rewards.

Stars Rewards launched in Denmark and Italy in late May/early June to very mixed reviews. Specifically, high stakes cash game players are extremely upset, as they are left out in the cold. There will be absolutely no rewards points awarded at No-Limit and Pot-Limit cash game tables with blinds of $5/$10 or higher and Fixed-Limit games with stakes of $20/$40 and higher. None. If you are a high stakes cash game player, you had better either enjoy playing poker just to play poker and win money or find somewhere else to play, because you are getting jack squat.

Also, according to a table of probabilities found on the PokerStars website, the chances of receiving anything worthwhile in the Chests are slim. There is a 1 in 10,000 chance of nabbing the maximum value of a Chest and it’s not like the rest of the time, the rewards are very good.

The lowest Chest on the scale, Red, will contain a severely underwhelming €0.07 of total value about 22 percent of time. 99.99 percent of the time, the Red Chest will be worth €0.65 or less.

The Platinum Chest, the top chest on the list, has a €1,000 maximum value, but 87 percent of the time, its value will only be €20.74 or less.

Now, if it is really easy to earn the chests, that might not be that bad of a deal, but early returns from the Denmark and Italy Stars Rewards rollouts illustrate that this probably won’t be the case. For instance, on Two Plus Two, poster “Sauron92” showed that he needed to earn 7,000 points for a Gold Chest with a top value of $1,000 (he was using US Dollars rather than Euros). In it, he received $3 in cash, 114 StarsCoin, and 470 rewards points.

But here we are. This is what we’ve got. Let’s see how it goes.

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