PokerStars to Host Ideas Forum With Players at EPT Barcelona, but Will They Listen?4 years ago
There was one a time when the world’s largest poker site was truly a partnership between management and its players. Back in those days, PokerStars operated in perfect synergy with the poker community. Ideas were shared, concerns were listened to, and everyone was happy. It was a thing of beauty.
Sadly, this grand tradition has been abandoned since ‘Stars’ purchase by the Amaya Gaming corporation. That’s why it’s so surprising to see that Amaya decided to convene an “Ideas Hub” at the 2016 EPT Barcelona.
Cynical? You bet.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible at this point to eye roll when Amaya asks for player feedback. While the company may want to pay lip service to customer service – the minimum in can do to maintain the brand - its actions speak louder than words. And Amaya’s stewardship of PokerStars reads like a very long list of insults to players.
That’s why this seems more like it was a publicity stunt than anything else. But on the off chance that is wasn’t, below is a breakdown of some the topics that were listed for discussion, with some ideas for how Amaya can actually make changes that players want to see – and even right some of the past wrongs against the community from the past two years.
Poker, Casino & Sportsbook – Share your ideas for new games and/or features
The most amazing part of this topic is the fact that Amaya even bothered to put the word “poker” in there next to “casino & sportsbook”.
After erasing a year’s worth of player rewards by removing SuperNova Elite without warning (something the company infamously said they “could have done more” to inform players about), raising rake over and over again, and working hard to move players to the unbeatable Spin & Go games, it’s hard to believe Amaya even wants anyone to actually play poker on PokerStars.
In fact, you might think poker is only being remembered by Amaya at all because it continues to cannibalize their “casino & sportsbook” offerings. An idea for a new feature? Bring back the poker player friendly PokerStars of old – the one that put poker and poker players first.
Where to even begin with this one?
For starters, Amaya might start by making good on the two-year reward system for SuperNova VIP’s. Beyond that, it could consider removing the cap to its rakeback rewards that was recently instituted.
Another thought might be letting some of the money saved by eliminating the top tier of the rewards program trickle down to the players. While rewards are stripped away, the promotions that were supposed to come to replace them have largely failed to materialize. And while it’s nice to see huge sports stars like Ronaldo involved in bringing new players to the site, it’s not nearly as nice as providing loyal customers with a few perks here and there.
Yes, this was actually a category listed for discussion.
On this point, there is no doubt that in general Amaya should consider returning PokerStars back to the player friendly place that it once was. To be clear - no one is begrudging them the right to change the model. Changes can be made to reflect the realities of a changing poker community.
However, what should not have changed is the commitment to a transparent line of communication, quality customer service, and dedication to maintaining PokerStars’ reputation as the world’s best place to play online poker.
Sadly, the numerous removal of benefits, communication problems, and general sense that Amaya is more concerned with turning PokerStars into just another online casino where you can also play poker has had the opposite effect.
If you detect a slight undertone of frustration to my suggestions, you would be correct.
Honestly, I don’t think there is any chance that Amaya will listen to any suggestions made by players during these sessions at the EPT Barcelona. It’s been obvious for a long time now that player concerns are falling by the wayside, increasingly irrelevant to the operational decisions being made.
That’s why I wouldn’t hold my breath for any of the “discussions” with players during these meetings to amount to anything more than another round of listening that will end with no action for the poker community.
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