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Shooting Stars

In the halcyon days, sites competed for players.  This competition was cut throat.  Those at the top could compete a bit less than those struggling for players.  With the coming of the UIGEA, the battlefield was altered dramatically.   The 800# gorilla (Party, dammit) was run out of the market.  Stars stayed and went from #2 to #1.  Number 3 was PokerRoom that had left even before the UIGEA and is defunct today.  So, what else did the change bring about?

 Today, I'll discuss PokerStars.  It is a site that I played heavily on when I was working for PokerWorks.  My last year there accounted for over 20,000 hands.  I left in a huff over their doing away with all-in protection but that a covered issue.  

How sites competed changed at all the sites.  Stars, as one of the pre-UIGEA majors, wasn't always the best at offering bonus or other features that ameliorated the rake factor.  Post UIGEA their search for players changed even more dramatically.

After the UIGEA they had the momentum here as the most played site.  US players had become a captive audience.  They became the site we couldn't ignore.  There wasn't a cost:benefit to their trying to maintain our relationship.  The business plan changed from growing the top line to one of controlling expenses with US clients.

But, sites and business in general must factor growth into their plan.  A shrinking top line adds vulnerability in all other areas.   Stars decided that the growth they sought was in the EU.  The market there is close to stable.  Those governments that sought to control or limit other nations sites were brought to court.   Adding to their EU player count would provide stability and strengthen the company should the US government find a way to further penalize their US base.

This is the point where US players became second class Stars' citizens.  They felt they could maintain those clients without cost.   Their promotional dollars – still sourced from the US – were directed overseas.  They directed those US sourced dollars into European tournaments. They provided the funds for a great user experience that helped grow the EPT.

If you look at the site today, you will see nice added tournaments that US players are prohibited from playing.  They are German only or such.  This is their pursuit of foreign players at our expense.

You can also see a logo for a PokerNews subsidiary.  This is a rakeback deal in some manner. I tried to find out a bit more about it when I worked for them but got generalities.  I don't care if they do have some special deal with PokerStars – more power to them.  What frosts me is the conversion of our dollars into EU promotions that we are denied.  

So, I wrote a little letter to them.  I said I didn't intend to play the site without rakeback.  And, because the account (5+ years old) could not have rakeback, I wanted that account canceled. At such time as the had a rakeback deal available to US clients, I would open another account. Here was their answer:
Hello James,

Thank you for your email.

I am sorry, James, it is not possible to delete your account and you are not
allowed to open a new account on PokerStars. Please use your current
account, as owning multiple accounts is strictly prohibited by the terms of
service of PokerStars.

Be aware that the access to multiple accounts at PokerStars may result in
permanent closure of the accounts involved, as it is a serious violation of
our Terms of Service:

   http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/tos **************************************************************************

On our site, we strive to give all players the lowest rake – "rakeback" promotions only serve to charge players more rake, and then give it back at some later date. If you compare the rake schedules across sites, I suspect you will find PokerStars is among the lowest, if not the lowest, in terms of percentage for rake. For these reasons, PokerStars does not offer rakeback. To get more information about our rake schedule, please visit: http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/rake/ Please note that we instead also offer a VIP program for our frequent players, based on how much they play in our real money games. By playing in these games, you earn VPPs and FPPs which can be exchanged for a variety of items, from tournament entries to electronics such as iPods, monitors, or televisions. You can read full details of our VIP club at: http://www.pokerstars.com/vip/main.html FPPs can also be used to play in a variety of satellite tournaments on our site, for both tournaments on our site, as well as major live events such as the WSOP, WPT, and EPT. You can read more about our FPP program at: http://www.pokerstars.com/fpp.html

**************************************************************************

If you still wish to close your account, please confirm so in your reply. If you have any further questions, please let us know. Best Regards, Tarvi R PokerStars Support Team

This is one of those “the customer is the village idiot” responses and it is a form letter to boot. Let's take a look at just one misstatement. “we strive to give all players the lowest rake”. That doesn't translate to giving a low rake. They give one the typical rake. There no gift here.

Then they proceed to tell us that rakeback would “ only serve to charge players more rake” and that adds to the insult. Other sites with the same or lower rake offer rakeback. So here is their next email after I insisted on what I thought were my basic right:


PokerStars Support wrote:

Hello James,

Thank you for your email.

I am writing to confirm that I have now closed your ‘Ken.P’ account.

Please note that you are not allowed to open new accounts on PokerStars and
if you wish to start playing again, you need to contact us and have your
original PokerStars account reinstated. Note that we cannot entirely remove
your account due to security and integrity reasons.

If you wish to permanently close your account, please confirm so in the next
email. Note that in that case you will never be able to play on PokerStars
again, under any circumstances. You will also not be able to open a new account.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us
again. Good luck!

Best Regards,

Tarvi R
PokerStars Support Team

This is – pure and simple – a threat.  They will retain my personal information forever.  I have lost control of my personal information.  If the site gets compromised, out goes my personal info and credit card data.  Right that I have as a US citizen are being abrogated by a foreign corporation.  They can do it because they are at best quasi-legal and there is no US court where I can force them to comply with US law.

Well, my shallow gratification was to give them a one sentence reply that hopefully resembled a one-finger salute.

You've got a deal!

Yup, at PokerStars I am an unperson.  My unhappiness went from paying for the enjoyment of the Eurodonk to unhappiness with the arrogance of the company in all respects.  I enjoy poker. I appreciate that enjoyment but I won't let that be dictated to by a selfish entity that demands complete control of my playing activities and rights.

If you insert the typical chat style invectives here directed toward PokerStars, you'd be right on. And, I imagine I could play there tomorrow, if I so wished. All I need to do is get a bit of advice from ZJustin. Come to think of it, I don't even need that.  More of their village idiot threatening is my guess.

 

 

ADDENDUM:
I don't usually ask for pimpage.  Here I will but only of sorts.   Anyone is welcome to reproduce this blog on their site with or without attribution.  I think it a fair representation of the respect being denied US players and players in general by the various sites.  It was made easier by the UIGEA but that is only a change in degree.  PokerStars isn't alone in this; they are only the worst.

Look in the mirror players.   We are their fish.

 

Categories: Poker Site Selection, stupid, UIGEATags:
  1. July 7th, 2009 at 09:14 | #1

    hmmm… I disagree bro. But I will throw some pimpage your way and offer my opinion as well. (Maybe not disagree disagree, cause I think they hate their customers as well…)

  2. July 7th, 2009 at 09:25 | #2

    That’s fair Riggs…after all I stole your thunder a bit on the toke exchange.

    Looking forward to hearing the part you disagree with.

  3. July 7th, 2009 at 11:25 | #3

    FWIW, PokerRoom was around in the US market for a little while after UIGEA and, for that matter, after Party pulled out. As with everything at PokerRoom, it just took them longer to get their act together.

  4. July 7th, 2009 at 12:14 | #4

    PokerRoom was interesting. The original owners sold it shortly before the UIGEA hit. They may have then been the first to dump US players after the UIGEA. They did a lot of things — right and wrong. It was the first site that I played on and I got involved in their very active forum. As I understand it, their players were folded into BWin.

    They had great freerolls. Early they were $3000 ones. But, they required player point levels to get the cash. First place got one $150 and it paid deep. A lot of the ‘better players’ were regulars in those freerolls. Not sure on the better part but I played a lot of them and cashed fairly often.

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