Recap Of Cutbacks At PokerStars In 2016
PokerStars has initiated a series of controversial changes and cutbacks to their network this year. Though the company claims they were necessary to "improve" online poker for everyone, many of the site's most frequent users were left wondering where the money went.
VIP Reward Program
In January 2016 PokerStars launched what they promised would be a bigger, better rewards program. The new VIP club was billed as a way to both retain and attract more players. It eliminated Frequent Player Points entirely, and reduced the benefits cap for top level players, while (supposedly) boosting benefits for the lowest tiered players.
Pros questioned if the Robin Hood scheme was actually reallocating rewards down to occasional players or simply reducing rewards all together, and many of them staged boycotts of the site. PokerStars recently announced even more changes to their VIP club ahead coming in 2017, including a monthly reset of player progress.
In February they continued making alterations to the fabric of their most popular online poker by cutting out all non-Zoom heads-up tables. Players took to the TwoPlusTwo forum to comment on how the various No-Limit, Fixed Limit and Pot Limit heads-up games were the reason why they logged in to play against friends.
Starting in March 2016 PokerStars begin tinkering with their rake structure. Unlike the previous changes, PokerStars made no attempt to promote the rake increase as beneficial for players.
The site attempted a significant rake hike once before back in 2014, only to reverse the changes due to backlash from players. The change is firm this time around, as it now matches the high rake set at other sites such as 888Poker.