UPDATED: PokerStars Meets With Stern, Haxton, Dvoress; No VIP Changes Coming

8

Isaac Haxton was one of three high stakes regulars to attend a meeting with PokerStars executives.

Isaac Haxton, Dani Stern and Daniel Dvoress finally issued a statement Saturday night, detailing as much as possible their recent meeting with PokerStars and Amaya executives. If you were hoping that the site would backtrack on its many changes that have affected high-stakes and high-volume regulars, it’s time to think again.

The Meeting

Stern, Haxton and Dvoress met with various PokerStars and Amaya executives on Monday, January 18. According to a statement issued by the trio on TwoPlusTwo, the meeting lasted for eight hours and all parties signed non-disclosure agreements that prohibited them from releasing any financial information, including details of the PokerStars ecosystem.

“Going into the meeting, our highest priority was to address PokerStars’ decision not to give the 2016 rewards they had promised to players earning SN and SNE statuses in 2015,” the statement read. “We reminded them that it is not too late to make it right.”

Amaya CEO David Baazov briefly joined the meeting but Stern described him as being “little out of touch with the online poker environment.” Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu, who has been critical of the manner in which the drastic changes were communicated, was also in attendance.

Eric Hollreiser, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya and PokerStars, was also in attendance at the meeting and has indicated a corporate statement will be released Monday.

The PokerStars Ecosystem

According to the three players, Amaya officials “denied having any firm obligation to give 2015 SNs and SNEs the rewards they were promised and asserted that they did not feel that doing so would be in the best interests of their business.”

The group admitted that Amaya gave “compelling” evidence that the current ecosystem at PokerStars needed to be re-tooled. They were not convinced however that the changes made will have the impact PokerStars has said they will.

“We did not feel that we were shown convincing evidence that any of the changes implemented so far would directly impact issues with the game ecology or the playing experience of recreational players,” the statement said.

Hyper Sit and Gos

The meeting also included discussion of the high-stakes hyper sit and gos, which the three players claim are “unbeatable” without benefits given to high-volume players. “We were simply assured that they were aware that high-stakes hypers were likely to be heavily impacted and planned to monitor those games closely,” the group explained.

Stern, Haxton and Dvoress were “unclear” whether any changes would actually be made to these games.

Cash Game VPPs

The trio felt that the data being presented by PokerStars wasn’t entirely inclusive of all player types.

“[Amaya] tended to present the results of the biggest winners, or ignore the results of players who put in high volume and lost, in ways that systematically overstated how much pros in these games could or did win,” the joint statement said.

“They assured us that PokerStars considers high-stakes cash an important part of its offering and that there are no plans to eliminate these games.”

The group also pitched “reducing rake in short-handed cash games while increasing it in full games and offering discounts/bonuses for SNGs that run with a lineup of all SN or SNE players.” However, according to the players, PokerStars had no interest.

“PokerStars is Not Willing to Reconsider Any of the Changes”

While the group was optimistic heading in to the meeting, they left Montreal without any promises from PokerStars to rollback any changes. Just the opposite in fact.

“We deeply regret that we are not bringing back any good news for the players. We tried our best to present both practical and ethical arguments against the SN/SNE cuts, but PokerStars is not willing to reconsider any of the changes.”

UPDATE: “Although that may not be what some players want to hear, the recent meeting demonstrated that an ongoing dialogue can provide greater understanding. We hope to build upon this meeting, and to continue listening to players, even if – and especially when – they disagree with us,” Hollreiser wrote in a blog entry on the PokerStars Corporate blog Monday afternoon.

Daniel Negreanu’s Involvement

In follow-up comments to the report, Stern revealed that PokerStars front man Daniel Negreanu, who attended parts of the meeting, was largely quiet, but did speak out about the two-year Supernova commitment. Negreanu has been vocal that the changes should have been better communicated and come with more advanced warning.

Why the Meeting Was Held

When asked, “If Amaya had no good news, why do you think you were even there,” Haxton responded, “Because Negreanu demanded it.” Stern said he thought the goal of the meeting, from Amaya’s end, was to “convince us that the VIP changes were necessary to fix a problem.” Stern and company, however, claimed Amaya presented no evidence that “taking more money out of the games would produce a benefit for any players.”

More Player Meetings Coming?

Despite all of the seemingly pessimistic news for players, Stern revealed that player meetings could be held more often, as Amaya “at least appeared eager to engage with players more often.”

8 COMMENTS

    • Can you like anti-invest in stocks? I’m all in on Amaya if so.

      Yes. Its called shorting. Selling the stock. but only a whale could move the price so much that the company collapsed.

    • It really seems like Amaya is carrying so much debt on their balance sheet that they need to reduce expenses quickly and this is the best way for them to do it. I think that the Scheinbergs realized they had to sell to capitalize the equity they had created, but in the process, they had ruined the game of poker by creating the VIP Club, which shifted the focus from playing poker well to playing poker in volume. I recall reading that the Scheinbergs wanted to make changes to the VIP Club as well but Amaya postponed it by a year.

      I bet in this meeting, Amaya has indicated that deposits are a tiny fraction of what they used to be, and without new money coming in, it will be a process of the remaining ‘pros’ cannibalizing themselves until there is no more money left on deposit with Amaya. Amaya got in too late to the game(and are finally realizing it!) and the Scheinbergs got out at the right time(they already knew this!).

      All that’s left is for the players to take what scraps are left before there is nothing more. The new Stars Coin is just a way to postpone the inevitable and hope Amaya can survive to see more U.S. states come on board(hoping that rescues them to see the debt paid off)

    • It really seems like Amaya is carrying so much debt on their balance sheet that they need to reduce expenses quickly and this is the best way for them to do it.

      Amaya’s debt is also in US Dollars, a currency that has become stronger recently, thus making Amaya’s debt more expensive to carry. Amaya’s revenue is also largely in Euros, according to Motley Fool, which means the revenue it’s bringing continues to deteriorate in value compared to its US Dollar-based debt.

    • Amaya’s debt is also in US Dollars, a currency that has become stronger recently, thus making Amaya’s debt more expensive to carry. Amaya’s revenue is also largely in Euros, according to Motley Fool, which means the revenue it’s bringing continues to deteriorate in value compared to its US Dollar-based debt.

      Precisely, which means Amaya has to answer to their shareholders and not the customers. They have made their position clear, now its time for the customer to either accept the price-hike or find a cheaper product.

    • Precisely, which means Amaya has to answer to their shareholders and not the customers. They have made their position clear, now its time for the customer to either accept the price-hike or find a cheaper product.

      And, as with any promotion, the terms and conditions allow for the company to change or cancel the promotion at any time, regardless of what they promised the consumer. In this position, I think the Amaya expects the players need Pokerstars more, than Pokerstars needs them, and they are going to try to squeeze as much out of that relationship as possible. It is up to the consumer to put their foot down and stop buying, but unfortunately the demand seems to high, thus Amaya wins until the demand dries up.

    • Sadly, the executives that made PS the gorilla that they were have long-gone left the company, or most likely the industry. I’ve worked at 2 online poker companies, and it still baffles me how little many of the employees know about poker.

    • Amaya,stars exist because poker players,they are here because us … not us for them
      ty Isaac, you’ll never walk alone!