PokerStars Strike Goes Head-to-Head with $100K Milestone Hand Promo


Tuesday marked the first day of a three-day strike by high-stakes players against PokerStars. The group is upset over cuts in benefits to high-stakes players and, at the time of writing, nearly 2,600 people have pledged not to play on PokerStars from December 1 to 3.

We realize we’re less than a day into the 72-hour strike, but we wanted to take a cursory glance at its effectiveness so far. Did a veritable who’s who of the poker world sitting out have any impact?

At the time of writing, over 35,000 cash game players are seated at PokerStars, according to the traffic watchdog site PokerStars. That’s larger than any 24-hour peak in the last two weeks by 10,000 and traffic has been steadily increasing throughout the day. There are 168,000 total players online.

Rather than strike-breakers, the root cause of the increase in player counts appears to be PokerStars’ Christmas Festival. Each day, a different promotion is taking place. On Tuesday, the first day of December, PokerStars is awarding $100,000 in milestone hands, leading to a dramatic increase at the cash game tables.

“Timing is everything” was a common theme on Twitter. So, rather than focus on real money ring game player counts, let’s instead take a look at traffic at the higher-stakes tables, which we’ll define as $5/$10 or above, the tables PokerStars is largely eliminating VPP benefits for. PokerScout was kind enough to supply us with the following data:

Tuesday, November 10
Peak higher-stakes players: 358

Tuesday, November 17
Peak higher-stakes players: 249

Tuesday, November 24
Peak higher-stakes players: 291

Tuesday, December 1
Peak higher-stakes players: 182

As you can see, higher-stakes traffic is down by a factor of 50% from November 10, although, according to PokerScout, the peak high-stakes traffic count could increase as the day continues on. Higher-stakes traffic typically peaks around 3pm PT:

Here were some Tweets we found about the strike from well-known players in recent days, showing a mixed bag of reactions, including Dani ansky451 Stern targeting shareholders of PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming:


    • When there are 168,000 players online and 35,000 cash games player how much can pokerstars possibly care about a 100 fewer 5/10+ players?

    • Yawn… the definition of entitlement.

      Agreed. The kids are throwing their toys out of the pram. Would they be doing this if it was the lower stake players losing out?

      I DON’T THINK SO!!

    • I think voting with our feet and not playing for 3 days was the right call. It’s disappointing that many longtime successful players seem to disagree (or perhaps the Free Rider problem is in full effect?).

      Whilst player action may or may not have any affect, the more resistance they face to negative changes the less ambitious they will be in increasing their margins in the future. And clearly with the strategic direction Amaya is steering Pokerstars, combined with it’s dominant market position, these are only the start of changes designed to capture more of the net-deposits.

      So to all the recreational players and low stakes grinders that seem to be ambivalent or even pro these changes, understand that the trickle-down affect will be your games getting tougher, and an increased likelihood of increasing rake, and less rewards for YOU in the future.

    • The real problem here is that Pokerstars has no real competition. They can make changes which affect both low- and high-stakes players knowing that they have to return to them – 3 days later or thirty. Don’t just boycott if you want change – choose a competitor and take your business to them. Convince them to give you a better deal in return for your business. Capitalism at work

    • I’ve been on a forced strike for 5+ years, go lobby govt officials to get US players back online and save your heart ache for the starving children of Africa.

    • I agree with the principle of the strike, however I am not optimistic about its potential to change the strategy of Pokerstars. Pokerstars has shareholders and therefore must show profit growth, not maintain profit stability. This leads to rising prices in retail, and in higher rakes and fees in online poker. Sherbetdip is exactly right when he says this is what capitalism looks like when its behaving normally, and furthermore is also correct about the solution; you need to find an alternate provider of whatever service is being inflated in cost and pivot your business accordingly, otherwise Pokerstars establishes itself as a defacto monopoly.

    • I think the whole thing is stupid. If you have a job and suddenly the terms in your contract are changed, you have a total of 2 choices: 1) Quit 2) Accept and move on.For those who are boycotting, why not withdraw your money from Pokerstars and play in another site? Oh thats right, there isnt another site that has the same volume as stars which means they can do whatever they want. All of those who are boycotting today will have to play sooner or later since its their main source of income, we?ll see how far they go with this “genius” move.

    • the drop is way too much. i agree with taking some money from the high stakes players but not as much as stars is taking away. The high volume grinders and high stakes players do it for a reason. Now that reason (becoming super nova) or whatever doesnt seem so appealing now. woulnt u want it to be more appealing and get more costomers

    • If you don’t like the new rules then don’t play there. AmayaStars isn’t holding your money hostage forcing you to play there. Its just the way the market works. If you wanna make a real change then boycott the site completely and hopefully one day another site will emerge to rise above or on equal footing as Pokerstars.

    • The biggest reason for the strike hasn’t been addressed in the previous 14 posts so here goes… It is completely unethical/bad business for a company to create a rewards program and then after 11 months of grinding/attempting to reach supernova elite they change the terms of the rewards programs. Honor what you promised for the first 11 months. (This from a US player who doesn’t have a dog in the fight). If you want to stick the middle finger to them a year down the road that’s fine (as you would have met your promised obligations)

    • I am assuming the rewards period is Jan-Dec and static? If so Stars should have honored the agreement through the annual period. Understanding this my stance remains unchanged from my prior post as how to handle the boycott. (also no dog in this fight as I live in Oregon)

    • I am assuming the rewards period is Jan-Dec and static? If so Stars should have honored the agreement through the annual period. Understanding this my stance remains unchanged from my prior post as how to handle the boycott. (also no dog in this fight as I live in Oregon)

      supernova elite guarentees that you get to maintain that level for the following year… but stars doesn’t intend on rewarding them the same way in 2016.. many players grinded for it assuming stars would honor their promise