Haxton Left Pokerstars Over VIP Changes

Haxton leaves PokerStars

Isaac ‘Ike’ Haxton has left PokerStars due to disagreement with the changes to the brand’s VIP club program.

Famous American poker player, Isaac ‘Ike’ Haxton has announced that he will not renew his PokerStars Team Pro Online contract. Haxton explicitly stated that PokerStars’ new VIP club program is the reason behind his decision. In November, PokerStars published its comprehensive plan to “enhance the playing experience,” including various major changes for Supernova and Supernova Elite members.

“I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically,” said Ike Haxton

PokerStars plans were met with heavy opposition from both casual players and professionals. The introduction of the new PokerStars VIP Steps program and the reward reduction are the most controversial points. According to the poker giant’s Corporate Blog, their goal was to simplify the reward system and enhance its visibility in real time. Simultaneously, they reduced the rewards for high-volume and high-stake players as well.

The capping of the VIP rewards at 30% affects mostly players with Supernova and SupernovaElite status. PlatinumStar members’ rewards were reduced by 10%. These changes triggered Haxton to leave PokerStars. “Announcing in November that players who earned Supernova and Supernova Elite status in 2015 will not receive the benefits they had expected in 2016 strikes me as dishonest and unfair,” he put in a statement.

Errors in the communication of changes

Haxton shared that previously he had lobbied for some changes that never came to fruition. However, he always “respected that those decisions were not mine to make and remained enthusiastic about endorsing the brand.” For him, the current situation is totally different: simpler yet deeper. As an experienced player, he knows how hard it is to collect VIP player points. “Finding out […] that your efforts will not be rewarded as you expected them to be is brutal.” Seeing such treatment of players, Haxton refuses to
endorse the site in the future.

He also criticized the way PokerStars communicated the changes. In a previous blog post, Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars Vice President of Corporate Communications, admitted to this. “We could have communicated to players more often that significant changes were coming in 2016,” Hollreiser wrote. “We could have noted this on our VIP web pages that gave details of the program,” he added. Furthermore, Hollreiser apologised “to players who did not expect cuts as significant in 2016 as […] announced.”

Haxton leaves PokerStars  with many good memories

Ike Haxton PokerStars ACOP main's event in 2015

Ike Haxton at ACOP main’s event in 2015 (Photo: Kenneth Lim via PokerStars)

“This is a difficult day for me and I’m truly sad to be parting ways like this with a company that I once held in such high regard,” said Haxton. He also recalled how proud he was when he first signed with PokerStars . His time at PokerStars “for the most part […] has been a true honor and it has been an experience I’ll always be grateful for.” Now he feels relieved to “be able to speak candidly about the recent changes.”

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