Isaac ‘Ike’ Haxton has quit his role as a member of Team PokerStars Online today, stating that
I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically.”
The first big name to disassociate himself from the poker giants following their recent changes to regular players’ bonuses and playing status, Haxton took to the popular 2+2 forum to explain the reasons for his departure.
When I first signed with PokerStars, It was one of my proudest moments in my career."
“As of today, I am sad to report that my PokerStars Team Pro Online contract has expired and I have made the decision not to renew it,” wrote Haxton, who joined the PokerStars Team Online roster in 2012.
“This is a difficult day for me and I’m truly sad to be parting ways like this with a company that I once held in such high regard. In 2012, when I first signed with PokerStars, it was one of my proudest moments in my career as a professional poker player,” wrote Haxton.
Claiming that he had been offered a contract extension with no change in compensation, the 30-year-old NY-born high-stakes online player still decided to terminate his association with the company, initially indicating via Twitter “I have resigned from PokerStars in protest of the changes to the Supernova and Supernova Elite programs.”
His lengthy follow-up post on 2+2 was an unveiled description of his time with the Amaya-owned site, and although it contained many positives his running theme was unchanged.
“In the past, when I have disagreed with a PokerStars decision, it has been on practical matters of which goals are most important and which policies most effectively advance those goals. This time my disagreement is simpler, and deeper. I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically.”
Haxton was one of the most high-profile stars of the game to participate in the 3-day strike at the beginning of December – a walkout which will see is currently seeing its second iteration, as many players protest the decision by PokerStars to cut the VIP status and rewards of SuperNova and SuperNovaElite.
“There’s a lot not to like about these most recent changes and the way they’ve been communicated,” wrote Haxton, adding, “but there’s one aspect that I just can’t accept. Announcing in November that players who earned Supernova and Supernova Elite status in 2015 will not receive the benefits they had expected in 2016 strikes me as dishonest and unfair.”
This change came into effect on the 1st, and is expected to affect at least several hundred of PokerStars' most ambitious and regular players. Those who had expected a large financial return on their 2015 investment of time and resources.
“As a four time SNE, I know what it takes to rake 1M VPP in a year, explained Haxton. “It’s a tough grind. For most of the players who do it, it is an all-consuming commitment more intense than most full time jobs. Many of them have relocated far from their homes and families to pursue it. Finding out, just as you approach the finish line, that your efforts will not be rewarded as you expected them to be is brutal. I cannot in good conscience continue to endorse a poker site that treats its players this way.”
His decision, as expected, has received mixed reactions. Amidst the many messages of respect and admiration there were one or two calling him out on his behaviour during the Brian Hastings ‘multi-accounting scandal’, which Haxton allegedly knew about.
David ‘Bakes’ Baker wrote: “You had the chance to do the right thing when Brian Hastings told you about his multi-account and you did absolutely nothing,” adding that, “The stand you are taking right now is admirable, but in my opinion, it hardly outweighs your unwillingness to act when confronted with cheating, and your silence until public pressure mounted.”
Baker also called on Haxton to “feel free to clear the air anytime about things that were constrained months ago,” referencing the fact that PokerStars have apparently concluded their review of the Hastings allegations.”
The changes which PokerStars announced back in November are designed – according to Amaya and supporters to ‘level the playing field’, giving recreational players more of a chance by limiting the tools and bonuses on offer to regular players.
Many are cynical of Amaya’s motives, seeing it as a ploy to increase the amount of money coming in to the company’s coffers – and reducing the amount going out. The acquisition of PokerStars and subsequent costs and debts have left Amaya facing a considerable hole in their pockets – something which most of their recent changes have been designed to address.
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