Ties Cut With High Limit Players in 2015Published on 2016-01-02 16:19:00
There is no question that higher limit cash game players took it on the chin in 2015. In moving to a more recreational player friendly model, a number of major online poker sites unceremoniously dumped higher limit cash game players. Sites like Full Tilt Poker, which had previously built entire marketing campaigns around potentially playing with the likes of Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius, suddenly decided that these higher limit players were not part of their business plans going forward.
In 2015, Full Tilt Poker completely axed their high limit tables and also elected to randomly seat cash game players at tables. No more railing games between Phil Ivey and Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies at the "Thunderdome" ($500/$1000 Pot Limit Omaha). No more game selection at cash game tables. Full Tilt Poker did away with all of that in an effort to make their site more friendly to recreational players, who may have felt intimidated at the prospects of losing their monthly deposit at a shark-infested cash game table filled with people using HUDs.
After Full Tilt Poker enacted these changes, almost all of the cash game activity on the site went to Pokerstars, which is also owned by Amaya, Inc. Full Tilt Poker would be dedicated to recreational players, it was thought at the time, while Pokerstars would continue to service professional players.
Disaster struck a few months ago, however, when Pokerstars announced that they would be making a number of changes to their VIP program going forward. Pokerstars, which was now under the control of Amaya, Inc., a publicly traded company, revealed that they too would be enacting a recreational player friendly model going forward. This meant lower rewards for higher limit players going forward, as well as the complete eradication of VPP awards at higher limit cash game tables. Pokerstars argued that the changes were needed to provide some much needed balance to the poker ecosystem, while detractors of the move argued that Amaya, Inc. was simply looking to line their pockets. A player strike was organized and executed, though the sit-out did nothing to change the minds of Amaya, Inc. Higher limit players, Pokerstars said, are expensive to service and would no longer be getting the level of rewards that they were receiving before.
Many higher limit grinders are left to enter 2016 unsure as to what their next move should be. Grin and bear it and stick with Pokerstars? Move to a site that hasn't washed its hands of higher limit players but has a significantly smaller player base? Move out of poker entirely? Another negative point - those players who made their names as cash game players and signed sponsorship deals are suddenly being viewed as expendable, especially with the recent move towards signing sports stars to sponsorship deals.
The online poker industry tends to move in step, so don't be surprised to see some of the lower tier sites also make moves against higher limit players going forward.
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