One of the things that tends to be important to hardcore online poker grinders and recreational players alike is a poker site’s rewards program. For the high volume players, rewards can add up to significant chunk of extra income, while rewards can make the poker experience more fun for recreational players, who have a goal other than winning money for which to strive. Last week, PokerStars announced that it has made one change to its Stars Rewards program and will be making several more later this year.

Tournament Rewards Take a Hit

The one adjustment that took effect on Friday is one that is sure to upset a lot of people: rewards points for multi-table tournaments (schedule tournaments) have been reduced by 55 percent, from 100 rewards points per dollar/Euro spent on tournament fees to just 45 points.

PokerStars explained:

This is a reduction in the overall amount of rewards some players will receive, but made in an area that we believe will have the least impact on their experience and enable us to place even more focus where we know it matters most. This includes offering the largest tournament guarantees like the €20m Winter Series guarantee in Southern Europe as well as record-breaking COOPs and Sunday Millions, and providing the most exciting live event experiences in poker.

Somehow I don’t think that rewards being diverted to other things will be much consolation to players who will be hurt by the move.

Chest Tweaks

The changes coming down the road are mostly positive, fortunately. About a year and a half ago, PokerStars implemented its new Stars Rewards system, featuring Chests. Taking advantage of the video game trend of loot boxes/chests, PokerStars wanted to incentivize players with progression towards these mystery boxes of sorts which contain various rewards after earning a certain number of rewards points. The system is fine, but it’s confusing. Thus, PokerStars is simplifying the Chests system. The changes are as follows:

-Adjusting the frequency and value of Stars Rewards Chests. The value of each Chest will be more than tripled, with the frequency of earning them reduced by a similar factor.

-Removing the ‘boost’ feature as an always available feature and transferring the majority of the value customers earned from the boost into the value inside the Chests themselves.

-Implementing new, easier to understand rules for how customers move up and down the 6 Chests levels. Moving up a Chest level will be achieved by earning 10 Chests over a rolling 28-day period and every progress bar will have a 28-day expiry to compete (failing to complete will move you down a Chest level).

-The addition of a new ‘Exchange’ feature which will let players who are struggling to complete their progress bar in a reasonable amount of time the option to trade in their partial progress for an immediate reward.

All of that most definitely makes the Chests program easier to understand. Less frequency, no more boosts, and streamlined leveling should reduce headaches. The exchange is great, too, as low-rolling, low frequency players can still get something even if they don’t earn a Chest. The removal of boost – while a positive for simplicity – could be a hidden negative, though, as it will be tough to see if the former boost value actually does transfer to the contents of the Chests.

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