PokerStars in for more changes

Since Amaya purchased online giant PokerStars, the poker room has gone through numerous changes and seems still uncertain of the direction it should take.

David Baazov offers  a $6.7 billion deal

David Baazov

David Baazov, former CEO and co-founder of Amaya Inc, offered Amaya a $6.7 billion deal to take the company private, after talks with bookmaker William Hill fell apart. Baazov, whose ingenuity and business acumen allowed Amaya to purchase PokerStars in 2014, wrote the board and said

“As the online gaming industry continues to mature, I believe that it is in the best interests of Amaya to be positioned as a private company. While Amaya incurs the substantial costs and scrutiny associated with being a reporting company, it obtains no benefit from being public.”

Baazov, who owns 17.2% of Amaya, offered C$24 for each outstanding common share. Having closed at the price of $21.69, Baazov’s offer gives Amaya a 31% premium. Baazov is optimistic of making the deal with Amaya based on his valuation of the online gaming industry, a belief opposite to that of Parvus Asset Management, owner of 14.3% of William Hill, who said that online poker is a “mature, if not structurally declining, revenue stream.”

Amaya, however, responded that shareholders “do not need to take any action with respect to any offer at this time”, and “there can be no assurance that Mr Baazov’s offer or that any future bid or offer will ultimately result in a completed transaction.”

New VIP Rewards System

Last year, PokerStars announced changes happening to their rewards program. And now that the year is ending, they have announced more changes to the VIP Program. Nothing will change the moment 2017 enters but all adjustments will take effect on July 1, 2017. PokerStars announced the following changes:

– Monthly VIP status rewards and requirements will remain unchanged
– Supernova VIPs will earn 28% in rewards
– Players who achieve Supernova status in 2016 will retain Supernova status until the launch of the new rewards program in 2017
– For players who don’t achieve Supernova status this year, Supernova will have a monthly status requirement of 10,000 VPPs
– When the new program launches, existing VIP statuses will be replaced by the program’s new reward mechanisms
– An announcement of the new rewards program launch date will be made at least two months in advance
– Effective July 1, 2017, StarsCoin balances will expire for players who have been inactive on all Stars platforms (PokerStars, Full Tilt, PokerStars Casino, BetStars) over a 6-month rolling period

A New Tournament Format for recreational players

Online poker platforms have been on a race to attract recreational players into their room. And as a leader in innovating new ways to present a poker tournament, PokerStars has created “Beat the Clock” a new format especially for the casual player who has no time to grind it out on a regular Sit N’ Go or Multi-Table Tournament.

Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars said,

“We are constantly looking to innovate at PokerStars and believe “Beat The Clock” is a great new addition to our poker offering. It’s the perfect format for those who want to fit in some quick, intense poker action and is ideal for mobile play, where, in just five minutes, players can experience all the emotions and excitement that only poker provides.”

“Beat The Clock” games are 5-minute Zoom tournaments where players win cash by just remaining in the game after the time runs out. Players win cash proportionate to the amount of chips they have remaining. This is reminiscent of PokerStars Timed Tournaments in 2011 where players play in 15-30 minute tournaments with the goal of staying in the game when the time ends.


Although Time Tourneys didn’t catch on as expected, “Beat the Clock”’s rapid pace make it ideal for people on-the-go who want a fix and perfect for quick play using PokerStars mobile app.

Changing Live tournament payouts & buyins

One of the more controversial changes that has occurred has been the change in the payout structure in live tournaments moving forward into the new format of PokerStars Festivals and Pokerstar Championships.

Based on PokerStars announcement, the changes are as follows:

– All events of €/$/£10,000 or more will retain the previous 12%-15% payout structure.
– All other events will payout an expanded 17%-20% of the field, but adhere to a 20%
– For the expanded payouts, a min-cash will be about 1.5x the buy-in of the event.

This move of paying out 20% of the field has caused a wave of reactions online. Another change affects the way buy-ins will be presented. Instead of presenting buy-ins to show the amount going to the prize pool and the fee, all buy-ins will be shown as a full price with the full breakdowns indicated in the structure sheet. That means, instead of seeing a buy-in listed as $5000 + $300, buy-ins will be seen as $5,300.

Article by Gabrielle Ruiz-Barredo

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Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

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