888poker to Introduce New Recreational Player-Centric Loyalty Program
888poker announced this week that it will launch a revamped loyalty program at the end of the month, effective March 28th. Gone will be the ten status levels, status points, and rakeback; in will be challenges, points, and gold tokens. The change is designed to try to shift the player base away from the hardcore rakeback grinder and towards recreational players. PokerStars did the same thing late last year and 888poker’s new system sounds a lot like its competitor’s.
In a post on Two Plus Two 888poker’s official representative informed the poker community of the plans to implement the “888poker Club.” He wrote, “The new 888poker Club will reward players based on different criteria to that of our current rake-based program. The vast majority of our players will benefit much more from the new program, which will be much easier to understand and will give significant weight to long term loyalty with 888poker.”
Fortunately, 888poker learned a lesson from PokerStars’ missteps and is making sure that, even though a lot of high volume players will be upset with the changes, they will not lose any rewards they have already earned.
“We’d like to assure you that despite these major changes, 888poker will fully honour its cashback commitment to all players, including its VIPs, who are currently entitled to yearly cashback in the existing rewards plan,” the representative said. “Moreover, any reward points players accumulated in the current rewards program will be automatically transferred to Gold Tokens, with equal value, in the new 888poker Club and will continue to be redeemable any time.”
PokerStars did not honor in full the rewards Supernova and Supernova Elite players were entitled to for 2016 and the conversion rate for Frequent Player Points to the new StarsCoin devalued FPPs. 888poker is trying not to make the same mistake.
The rep also said later that players will start at a loyalty level that corresponds to wherever they are on the day of the changeover. Cashing out points before they are converted to Gold Tokens – the new loyalty currency – will not affect where one starts out in the 888poker Club.
888 is being honest about the fact that high volume grinders will be hurt by this new system, but again, is trying to ensure that those who have earned VIP status for a period beyond March 28th will still receive the benefits that they were promised:
The cashback available in our current rewards program will likely not correspond to that offered in the new 888poker Club. Therefore, in the event that the cashback earned by a VIP player within the 888poker Club structure is lower than that which the player would expect from our current program, we’ll make sure to grant a monthly compensation of any difference in these amounts up until each player’s VIP status expires. We’ve emailed each VIP player the expiration date of his VIP status.
The new 888poker Club is not based on how much a player contributes in rake. Instead, players move up Levels when they complete certain challenges, some of which are rake-based. When a player moves up, he receives Gold Tokens, which can be redeemed for prizes. The list of challenges will be revealed when the new system begins.
Because the progression up the loyalty ladders is not rake-based, “Grinders who play only poker are likely to receive less in this new program. Recreational players, on the other hand, are expected to earn much more.”
“The main objective of the new plan is to reallocate the loyalty budget from the heavy grinders to the masses. We want to reward players for other activities, including long term loyalty to 888poker, rather than only for grinding,” the rep added later.
Note that he said, those “who only play poker” will benefit less from the new system. Some challenges have a component that requires play in the casino or the sportsbook, though the 888 rep did say that all challenges will be able to be completed with just poker play.
As expected many in the poker community, especially on forums like Two Plus Two where more serious players gather, are not happy at all with this turn of events. Some just fled PokerStars because of that site’s move to a recreational player-focused loyalty program, many going to 888. Now 888 is rolling out a similarly styled – maybe even more rec-focused – program and players are throwing their hands up, asking, “What in the hell am I supposed to do?”
But that’s where online is going, where it has already gone. Some people are happy with it, others are not. At least in this case, 888 seems to be up front about what it is doing and trying to ease the transition for its players the best it can.