PokerStars Pushes Stars Rewards Update Worldwide
In 2017, PokerStars turned its loyalty program on its head, implementing its new Stars Reward system that featured Chests as an unlockable mystery reward. It was PokerStars’ way to try to keep up with the current era of video games – mobile, in particular – that revolves around a constant grind, a never-ending effort to “level up” and earn that next “thing.” It was PokerStars’ attempt to “gamify” poker more than the game it already is. In February, the world’s largest online poker room announced that it was going to make changes to the Stars Rewards system and last month, it rolled out those changes in the Italian market. Though the rest of PokerStars’ markets would supposedly see the changes “later this year,” later is sooner, as everywhere but New Jersey has now the updated Stars Rewards.
This is not a massive upheaval of the system like back in 2017, but Stars felt that a jolt was needed, that “the experience of opening a Chest isn’t as meaningful as it could be.” So here is what PokerStars has done, as first detailed by Severin Rasset on the PokerStars blog in February:
• Adjusting the frequency and value of Stars Rewards Chests. The value of each Chest will be more than tripled, with the frequency of earning them reduced by a similar factor.
• Removing the ‘boost’ feature as an always available feature and transferring the majority of the value customers earned from the boost into the value inside the Chests themselves.
• Implementing new, easier to understand rules for how customers move up and down the six Chests levels. Moving up a Chest level will be achieved by earning 10 Chests over a rolling 28-day period and every progress bar will have a 28-day expiry to compete (failing to complete will move you down a Chest level).
• The addition of a new ‘Exchange’ feature which will let players who are struggling to complete their progress bar in a reasonable amount of time the option to trade in their partial progress for an immediate reward.
That first part is the biggie. I can’t speak from experience, as I am unable to play on PokerStars, but having previously looked at the possible prizes in Chests, it definitely looked meager, particularly at the low tiers. The lowest-tier players could expect roughly pennies for opening a Chest. Now, someone at the lowest levels who has not contributed a lot of rake should not necessarily expect anything overly significant, but receiving just a few cents from a Chest is pretty sad.
Using PokerStars’ published probabilities for each possible reward (which were not necessarily cash) in the previous version of the Stars Rewards system gave the following expected values for each tier:
True to its word, PokerStars has more than tripled the expected Chest value (except for one, which is two and a half times the previous expected value). The new expected value of a Chest is as follows:
No, you are not misreading, the colors of the tiers changed. I don’t know why. Also, every Chest on the Blue tier is worth $0.50, whereas values can vary for the other tiers, but they average out to what is listed above.
It’s not all good news, though. While the average value of a Chest is increasing, they are getting more difficult to earn. On the bright side, the “exchange” feature listed in Rasset’s bullet points should help people who are having trouble earning Chests, allowing them to cash-in a partial Chest.
I would also suspect that players will like the new system for leveling-up. Before this, players needed to earn four Chests in a day to move up a tier. Now it is ten Chests – a lot more – but over a rolling 28-day period. Though Chests are more difficult to earn, this new system reduces the urgency for players, allowing them to relax if they can’t play for a day or two.
Tournament players totally got boned, though, in a change that was made back in February. For multi-table tournaments, players now receive just 45 Rewards points for every dollar in fees, whereas it was previously 100 points for every dollar. Said Rasset:
This is a reduction in the overall amount of rewards some players will receive, but made in an area that we believe will have the least impact on their experience and enable us to place even more focus where we know it matters most. This includes offering the largest tournament guarantees like the €20m Winter Series guarantee in Southern Europe as well as record-breaking COOPs and Sunday Millions, and providing the most exciting live event experiences in poker.
Eh, I guess?