PokerStars to Launch New Stars Rewards Loyalty Program

Stars Rewards - PokerStars' New Loyalty ProgramPokerStars has released further details about changes to the way in which it will reward players for their poker, casino and sports betting action.

Last month PokerStars announced it was making sweeping changes to its rewards program. Among its plans was the removal of the month-long tiered program in favour of short-term rewards across the site´s poker, casino and sports book platforms. The changes were intended to appeal to recreational players at the expense of high volume players, who would lose a significant amount of value as a result.

Recently, personalised missions and single-session promotions such as “Card Hunt” have become more commonplace, and now it looks as if PokerStars will be expanding these types of promotions in its new “Stars Rewards” program. The program will be rolled out in stages throughout the summer, starting in Denmark next week before being introduced in Italy and the rest of Europe.

Player Rewards Delivered in Chests

Once the new Stars Rewards loyalty program has been launched, players will be set targets based on their existing poker, casino and sport book action. On completion of the targets, players will be presented with a chest containing a randomised reward. Although the system has not been fully explained, PokerStars says the more action players put in, the bigger the rewards in the chests will be.

Players will also have the opportunity to “boost” their progress towards meeting their targets with (it has been speculated) more personalised and single-session missions. These short-term promotions will be also be based on existing poker, casino and sports book action – although the likelihood exists PokerStars may use the “boost” option to cross-sell players into other gambling verticals.

The randomised rewards are also supposed to be relevant to players´ previous action. It has been suggested that a poker player who focuses on MTTs or Spin & Go games will find tournament entry tickets in their chests, while a player who spends more time in the casino will receive free casino chips. The rewards are also expected to include cash, live tournament packages and StarsCoin.

An “Exciting, Personalised Gaming Experience” – Or Not

Writing for the PokerStars blog, Severin Rasset – the site´s director of poker innovation and operations – described the new Stars Rewards loyalty program as an “exciting, personalised gaming experience” that will make every game count. The excitement apparently comes from the variety of rewards with randomised values (rather than from the gameplay itself?).

Initial reaction to the latest announcement has been critical of the changes – some players on the 2+2 forum commenting it will be impossible to compare the Stars Rewards program to the existing one due to a lack of transparency. More cynical players have suggested the new program will enable PokerStars to tweak the value of the rewards whenever it needs to show more cash on its balance sheet.

Admittedly, contributors to the 2+2 forum are mostly players who will be negatively affected by the loss of the existing program. However, the new program does seem a bit hit and miss, and is not the type to inspire long-term brand loyalty. Previously, players putting in x numbers of hours for x number of days would know the level of reward they would receive for their efforts. That surety is soon to disappear.

PokerStars has said in the past that its aim is to achieve a “balanced, long-term poker economy” in which players are rewarded for their skill at the tables rather than for playing for volume. Whether or not the new Stars Rewards loyalty program achieves this objective with Stars Rewards – and has any success in attracting and retaining net depositing players – only time will tell.