PokerStars eliminated their famous Supernova VIP rewards program and replaced it with the new Stars Rewards player rewards program, and the vast majority of PokerStars regulars hate it!
If you reside in France, India, Spain, or Portugal, please instead read the PokerStars review applicable to your location:
||60¢ - $12
||$1.50 - $30
||$5 - $100
||$12.50 - $250
||$35 - $700
Since poker played outside of home games is not a zero sum game, the economy relies on depositors, and yet these players are typically not given any special treatment. In fact, it's usually the "net withdrawers" (AKA, the pros and the grinders) who get all the rewards. With the old Supernova program winning players were earning as much as 69% rakeback! PokerStars realized that rewarding players who are already winning is unnecessary, so they shifted their focus to the players the game needs most to survive: net depositors.
At first, this seemed like a great idea! Reward those players most crucial to the poker economy and said economy will thrive. Initially, that seemed to be the intent behind the new Stars Rewards program, and we originally applauded PokerStars for it. Of course, the regulars raged at the loss of rakeback (and with good reason - many had supported and funded the site for years only for PokerStars to turn around and stab their best customers in the back). Keep in mind, poker sites make their money from rake, not from player losses, and nobody contributes more rake than the grinders who are playing 50,000 or more hands a month. Supernova Elite players saw their rakeback rewards reduced from 69% to roughly 5%!
Then the Stars Group went one step further and reduced the rewards for tournament players by a whopping 55%! Instead of earning 100 points for every $1 contributed in rake like everyone else, tournament players now only earn 45 points per $1 of rake. They also don't give ANY points to players playing higher stakes! These changes have nothing to do with helping the poker economy and everything to do with helping PokerStars increase profits.
A few months later the Stars Group reduced the rewards even more, and pulled the scummy big business tactic of phrasing it as if they were doing everyone a favor! They claimed they were simplifying the system for earning chests (which they did), but in the process they reduced the rewards once again. Winning players now earn as little as 2.1% rakeback! Half that if they play tournaments or Sit-and-Go's, and 0% if they play high stakes cash games. What an absolutely disgraceful way to treat their best customers! Many of their regulars left since they can earn significantly more rewards with almost any other online poker site.
PokerStars Stars Rewards Review
You earn 100 reward points for every $1 you pay in rake, or 45 points for every $1 in tournament fees. Earn enough reward points, and you earn a Stars Rewards chest, which offer random prizes that vary in value (e.g. from 60¢ to $12 for a Bronze chest). Only the basic Blue chest has a fixed value (60¢). You need to earn at least 1 chest of your current type over a rolling 28-day period to remain at your current level. If you earn 10 chests of the same type during this period, you move up to the next reward chest (e.g. from Blue to Bronze). Higher level chests require more reward points to open, but also have a higher average value of rewards. However, higher level chest do not necessarily offer greater rakeback!
*All of the numbers in the above table are approximations based on the data we have been able to collect. While our previous analysis of the Stars Rewards program was incredibly accurate, our analysis of the "improved" program is much less so due to a lack of data. The numbers in red text are almost certainly wrong.
The most confusing (and frustrating) aspect of the Stars Rewards program is that the reward point requirements for each chest vary based on your player profile (and the variation can be huge, as illustrated by the above table). Although other factors contribute to your profile, the biggest is whether you are a break-even player, net depositor, or net withdrawer.
Not only is the variation huge, but the same player can jump from 25,000 points to open a Black chest (29.2% rakeback) to needing 335,000 (2.1%)! This can also be incredibly misleading, as you might get 9 Black Chests for 25,000 points, and just 1 for 335,000 and think you're earning decent rakeback. Afterall, 90% of your chests are giving you 29.2% rakeback, so you might think (9 x 29.2% + 1 x 2.1%)/10 = 26.5%...not bad. However, when you look at cash earned per points (the correct way to calculate your rakeback), it's not pretty! Across 10 Black chests, you'd expect to earn an average of $700 in rewards, for which you'd need 585,000 points ($5,850). $700 / $5,850 = 12.0% rakeback...ugh!
Please note that our equivalent rakeback calculations are based on the weighted average of the rewards from each chest. That is, you are unlikely to receive the exact rakeback our tables indicate. This is part of the draw of the Stars Rewards program - the opportunity to earn a big prize! The entire system is designed to attract gamblers, which fits with PokerStars' mission to increase their revenue from their online casino.