PokerStars CEO: Pro Poker Players Are a Problem

1 year ago
PokerStars CEO: Pro Poker Players Are a Problem
20 Aug

Stars Group (Formerly Amaya) CEO Rafi Ashkenazi talked to Bloomberg about the future of the company after a successful Q2. 

According to the Stars Group CEO, there are just too many winning players on the site. While the company has historically used poker pros as a marketing tool, now it sees them as a danger to the PokerStars' ecosystem.

But how do you dissuade someone from doing something they're good at and makes them money?

To disincentives winning players from winning so much, they changed the rewards program to one that randomizes the rakeback system. That way, it doesn't matter how good you are, you just need to be lucky. Yay. 

One would think that making it harder to make money from poker would be awful for attracting new players, but in Ashkenazi's own words:

“[Recs] want to enjoy the game as a fun entertainment experience that offers many winning moments and the dream of the big payout.”

However, a game of skill can't provide “many winning moments” if you suck at it. So how do we incentivize people who lack skill to play more of a game of skill? Severin Rasset, Stars Group’s director of operations and innovation, has some ideas.

According to Rasset, a lot of the changes are meant to fit the “gaming habits of a young generation”. That would include adding video game features to poker, like  "magic cards” that allow a player to see cards before they’re dealt. 

“I love video games,” Rasset said. “I want to infuse some of this into the poker world.”

They are doing this to bring back the amount of traffic pre-Amaya Stars had during the Poker Boom.

In 2010, the peak boom year, online gambling made $3.3 billion, in contrast, projections say it will make $2.5 billion this year, or 5.5% of what it used to. Stars Group took a loan to be able to buy Rational and all its assets for $4.9 Billion (Fun Fact: that is more than what Disney paid for Star Wars, the second highest grossing media franchise of all time), and they need to pay that back before they can truly make a profit. 

So what do you think would this bring a new Poker Boom? Would it even be worth it if it did? Is the writer's contempt for all of this too noticeable or did he manage to hide it after many rewrites?  Let us know in the comments!

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