Poker Eco-system and Black Member events in 2015

    • Marta
      Marta
      Headadmin
      Headadmin
      Joined: 06.12.2010 Posts: 9,515
      Dear members,

      as most of you know the regular players who play a lot and "generate" a lot of rake at the tables were in the past seen as the most valuable customers (VIPs) to an online poker room and were getting the biggest chunk of a poker room's marketing and retention budget.

      In recent years poker rooms have shifted their budgets more towards recreational players. Recreational players are nowadays getting better bonus offers and more money goes into “recreational” promotions like first deposit freerolls, while VIP reward systems are being reduced. Affiliates are paid less for their existing VIP player base and are incentivised to bring new players into the poker eco system.

      In light of these changes, we as an affiliate that ultimately depends on what poker operators are willing to pay for certain player groups came to a point where we have to reconsider our business plan towards Black Member events. Our Black Member events will phase out during 2015.

      We understand that this change will be perceived negatively by some of you guys, who have always been our most loyal users. We would have never stopped the Black Member events, if it was not necessary. We could possibly end this post here, as we understand there is nothing we could say to prevent the frustration related to this decision. You all have the right to be upset and vent your frustration in this thread.

      However, for those of you who were actively interested in the business reasoning behind these changes, we have prepared further explanations and would be happy to offer you a personal consultation as well.

      Who are valuable customers?

      Let's look at the poker environment in a simplified chart:



      For many years the poker industry has been working under false assumptions about how poker business works. Poker rooms thought that valuable customers were only the ones, who turned the most money into rake at the tables (VIP players). However, it cannot only be about the rake generated at the tables. The critical consideration is - who actually pays the rake?

      In poker the players, who deposit more than they withdraw, are very valuable customers, because they fund the whole system with their deposits. Online poker rooms need to make sure there are enough depositing players, because:

      • Someone needs to pay the rake and pay the winnings of the winners.
      • It is amount of deposits that determines the size of a poker room and sustainability of its games.

      That's why nowadays poker rooms look also at “net-loss“ (how much player lost or won at the tables) to identify the real value of every customer. Recreational players are in reality worth much more than the rake they generate at the tables and VIPs (players who are usually winning) are worth less than the rake they generate at the tables, because in reality all the rake is financed (paid) by the recreational players, while VIPs only help to "turn" deposits into rake. As a result, there is a shift in how marketing budgets have to be allocated so that the environment works.



      Poker has become harder also due to the fact that poker rooms were focusing a lot on giving VIPs incentive to play more and didn't focus enough on new / recreational players. In poker, this problem is known as the “poker ecology gap”, or a “lack of depositing players”.

      Poker rooms, affiliates and players have a common goal: sustainability of poker games. It is necessary to set the reward system right, so that the eco system can become more balanced.

      Poker works the same way as any other business, it is all about who spends money on the product.

      Affiliates get paid less for VIPs

      The above shift in how players are valued impacts also how much affiliates get paid by poker rooms. All affiliates (including PokerStrategy.com) are nowadays getting paid less for VIPs.

      As a result, we need to make some unpopular decisions. We would love if it wasn't the case but there is no other (sustainable) way.

      What is going to change in Black Member events?

      Our Black Member events will phase out over the course of 2015.

      All the previously announced events will take place according to standard procedures. All remaining entitlements such as unused tickets will enter a $100.000 raffle. Please refer to FAQ in following post for all the details. Please also read the latest update: Update to phasing out of Black Member Events

      We understand this is very bad news for many of you. Unfortunately, balancing the eco system is an inevitable step for sustainability of online poker in the future.

      PokerStrategy.com vision

      PokerStrategy.com is investing into content, services and promotions for all of our users. We will continue doing that. Our goal is to make sure that:

      • PokerStrategy.com remains a great platform for regular players, which allows them to learn advanced poker strategies. Despite the fact that we get paid less for the winners, it is clear that successful poker players help to popularise poker games, with their cool lifestyle and successes that inspire other players.

      • We are very beginner friendly, so that recreational players can learn and enjoy basics of poker on our website. As well as receive a good portion of entertainment and enjoy additional content and services on our website. We bring a lot of new players into poker via our free money offers.

      We believe we all share a common goal, which is to make poker become a fun game (again) that allows recreational players to enjoy the poker experience, while allowing the ambitious and well educated players to make sustainable profit from the games.

      Poker in its current state is not appealing to a broad mass of players, because the games are tougher, new players have less "success moments" and there were not enough innovative ideas (like Spin & Go tournaments) to make it more fun to play for recreational players. In order to change this and create the upside for players, poker rooms and affiliates alike, there are many steps to take. The poker industry has to improve the player experience by making the product more beginner friendly and creating promotions that are appealing to the recreational players and make them spend their “entertainment budget” on poker. At the end of the day this is the money that ensures sustainable winnings for the winning players. The most successful live poker players realised this and treat, for example, rich businessmen respectfully, regardless of their skill level, because they know how important this player group is for them. Online poker players should be similarly respectful to not scare away the ones that play poker for fun, as profits of the winners will always rely on activity of recreational players.

      In the past months, you may have seen PokerStrategy.com bringing a balanced mixture of serious learning content, bankroll building challenges as well as entertaining comics, news and generally a good mix between education and entertainment. This continues being our focus and we will do our best to improve these offers in 2015. We plan to have both a polarised and balanced range at the same time – focusing on VIP players as well as recreational players (well, some of our entertaining content is enjoyed by VIPs, too), while at the same time making sure there are enough interesting things for everyone.

      In case there are more questions about the above, we will answer them in this thread. If you are a Black Member, we also offer you a personal Skype consultation about this topic. You already received an email with our Skype details, or you can also write here "contact me" and we will get in touch via private message.

      Regards,
      Marta
  • 94 replies
    • Marta
      Marta
      Headadmin
      Headadmin
      Joined: 06.12.2010 Posts: 9,515
      Frequently asked questions

      Can I still earn Black Member tickets and tokens in 2015?
      Yes, both tickets and tokens can be earned until 30th April 2015.

      From 1st May 2015 onwards, earned StrategyPoints will not generate any Black Member tickets or tokens.


      How can I use my Black Member tickets in 2015?
      There are no changes in how the tickets are used. You can use your tickets to participate in one of the Events within 2015 Black Member events schedule. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask us at Black Member service email bmp@pokerstrategy.com or in the forums.

      Any pending tickets you did not use (or could not use due to capacity issues) until 20th August 2015 will automatically enter $100,000 Black Member Raffle.


      I am already registered for an event with more than 1 ticket. Can I still participate at the event, even though I cannot reach my missing tickets?
      Yes. In this specific case we will not exclude you from the event.
      However, going forward it is of course not possible to book a new event without already having the required number of tickets.


      How can I use my travel tokens in 2015?
      There are no changes in how travel tokens are used and redeemed. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask at bmp@pokerstrategy.com

      Any pending tokens you did not use until 20th August 2015 will automatically enter $100,000 Black Member Raffle.


      Can I still get my Black Member suit tailored?
      Yes, you can if you signed up for an event with the tailoring service. You can now also visit any of the below destinations (without attending the event itself) or schedule an appointment in Hamburg. The tailor service is available at the dates and destinations below:

      Hamburg (no event, tailor service only): April 10
      Warsaw: May 9-10
      Montenegro: June 7
      Porto: June 12-14
      Prague: July 10-12
      Berchtesgaden, Bavaria: July 17-20
      Dresden: July 24-26
      Bensberg, Cologne: August 14-17
      Hamburg: individual appointment until end of August, please send us your preferred dates for the appointment.

      Please note that 2 events have been added. More information: Update to phasing out of Black Member Events

      To book a tailor appointment, please send us an e-mail to bmp@pokerstrategy.com with:
      - your full name
      - your nickname at PS.com
      - pick one of the offered dates and destinations, where you would like to use the tailor service
      - your weight and height
      - your mobile number (will be deleted after the meeting)
      - you need to let us know at least 2 weeks in advance before the event to book an appointment

      Please organize yourself and contact us rather fast. There will be no more tailoring service from 1st September 2015 onwards, so it is important you let us know about your preference based on the options above.

      Booking confirmation:
      After we receive your email, we will reserve you a meeting with tailor during one of the dates above. We process the requests manually, so it may take up to three working days before you receive confirmation.

      If you do not manage to or don't want to have your suit tailored in one of the events until 20th August 2015, your pending entitlement to get a suit will be turned into $100,000 Black Member Raffle ticket.

      How do I earn tickets for $100,000 Black Member Raffle?
      Based on your pending tickets, tokens and entitlement to get a suit as at 20th August 2015 you will earn number of raffle tickets based on following logic:

      1 BM ticket = 1 raffle ticket
      1 travel token = 1 raffle ticket
      BM suit entitlement = 1 raffle ticket

      You can have in theory unlimited amount of raffle tickets depending on how many tickets and tokens you earned and did not use until 20th August 2015.


      There are less events in the schedule, so my tickets are more likely to expire at 30th April. What is the solution for this?
      Tickets will expire as normal. However, we will count the tickets expired at 30th April as a raffle ticket, too, so you will not lose any value. This is to compensate you for inconvenience of not being able to use your tickets that are expiring as at 30th April.

      1 ticket expired as at 30th April = 1 raffle ticket.


      What about ticket and token expirations at the end of August 2015?
      You do not need to worry about expiration as at end of August 2015. All pending tickets and tokens as at 20th August 2015 will enter the raffle, even if they were to expire at the end of August 2015.


      What is the prize structure of $100,000 Black Member Raffle ?
      Prize structure of the raffle can be seen below. If you have multiple raffle tickets, you can win multiple times:



      Prizes will be paid out to your tell-a-friend account.


      What do I have to do to participate on the $100,000 Black Member Raffle?
      Nothing. All your entitlements will enter the raffle automatically. This includes i. all pending entitlements as at 20th August 2015, as well as ii. expired tickets as at 30th April. All the entitlements will be automatically turned into raffle tickets.

      We will announce the winners by the end of August 2015.


      What if I become a Black Member during 2015?
      If you become a Black Member before or including 19th August 2015, you will be awarded 1 Black Member ticket and an entitlement to get your Black Member suit tailored. So nothing will change and you still get your awards. However, in case you are unable to attend the event due to capacity issues (which is likely in case you become a Black Member later in the year), your entitlements will turn into raffle tickets. So most likely you will have 2 raffle tickets, one for the ticket and one for the suit entitlement (see the entitlements and their conversion into tickets above).

      From 20th August 2015 going forward, there will be no BM ticket or suit entitlement awarded at the moment you become a Black Member (see also next question).


      Will the Black Member status exist in the future and what are it's benefits?
      Yes, Black Member status on PokerStrategy.com will continue to exist.
      Unfortunately, due to the shifts in poker eco-system, the main benefit in form of Black Member events is going to phase out during the course of 2015.

      So going forward, the main benefits of Black Member status will be the full access to all sections of our website. It also serves as a badge of very successful poker player.

      We do not intend to add further benefits into Black Member status at this time.


      What is the plan with Diamond events?
      At the moment, we do not intend to organise any "Diamond events" in 2015.

      However, we can still organise "Community events" with various status restrictions, which are likely going to be lower than Diamond, because the goal of these should be to "meet and greet" in larger community rounds. In the past we organised luxurious events for smaller group of people. Going forward we would rather organise a community gathering for more people, where everyone gets free drinks, for example. These community round-ups will be announced in our news section and forum as usual.


      I have more questions. What should I do?
      For Black Member event related questions, you can ask in the forums or at bmp@pokerstrategy.com. For other questions, please refer to Headadmin in the community.

      If there are more Frequently Asked Questions, we will add them into the overview.
    • Scaletta
      Scaletta
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.03.2011 Posts: 208
      It's funny how PokerStrategy keeps on making these little improvements (the design, several new contests and raffles, constant updates to strategy content, etc) but at the same time, keeps on cutting off these vital parts of the site which used to make PokerStrategy great (the $50 free starting capital, the Black Member benefits)

      I can understand that this is business and you need to make a profit to operate but it's still sad to see PokerStartegy becoming more and more of an "average" affiliate site instead of an elite one. :f_frown:
    • ghaleon
      ghaleon
      Black
      Joined: 17.10.2007 Posts: 5,877
      So if I understood correctly sites have decreased portion they give to poker affliate like pokerstrategy from rake we players create? That would seem like only somewhat appropriate reason for this decrease in VIP benefits.

      I believe amount any black member has to rake for one ticket should more than well enough compensate for expences of these events? Not to count amount of rake necessary to get into black member all together.

      With decrease in coaching amount and video production in general (which I believe have been pretty clear?) I have tough time to see what I am personally getting from this site anymore. Also concidering these members are still going to be indivuals making serious moneys into your coffin it's somewhat inappropriate to make this sort of move.

      So I would like to ask what does player get from you for several 10k$ he might possibly be making for PS during the year? I assume such rake amounts should be compensated bit better than keeping possibility to show BM badge...
    • Riverdiver
      Riverdiver
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.07.2012 Posts: 1,126
      How fast can a site detoriate:facepalm:

      They're just cutting all expenses and then forever profit of affiliated accounts that cannot cut their affiliation:profit:
    • tfsantos
      tfsantos
      Black
      Joined: 20.01.2010 Posts: 1,518
      Every time Pokerstrategy announces a change, it's for the worst. Being black member means nothing from now on.
      Unfortunately, I already have a lot of poker rooms affiliated with you guys, so you'll continue to profit with my game and give me nothing in return.
    • redskwerl
      redskwerl
      Black
      Joined: 03.03.2008 Posts: 3,802
      literally ipoker
    • AlphaVillain
      AlphaVillain
      Gold
      Joined: 09.10.2014 Posts: 367
      So you took away the only special thing about becoming a black member... Smart move. Did none of the geniuses that contributed to this decision ever think about the probability of losing all future potential Black Members in favor of your competitors?

      What sane future grinder will ever use PokerStrategy as their affiliate when you give them absolutely nothing to aim for? Sure, you got some poker training, but everybody has that nowadays, you don't own the Holy Grail because of that.

      Mark my words: you will never see a Black Member registered at this site after the 16th of February 2015.
    • dooleslovs
      dooleslovs
      Platinum
      Joined: 17.02.2011 Posts: 481
      You mean only after dozen of years while online poker biusness lasts, they only now realised how it actually works?
    • Marta
      Marta
      Headadmin
      Headadmin
      Joined: 06.12.2010 Posts: 9,515
      Hey guys, thanks for all the comments.

      Originally posted by ghaleon
      So if I understood correctly sites have decreased portion they give to poker affliate like pokerstrategy from rake we players create? That would seem like only somewhat appropriate reason for this decrease in VIP benefits.

      I believe amount any black member has to rake for one ticket should more than well enough compensate for expences of these events? Not to count amount of rake necessary to get into black member all together.

      With decrease in coaching amount and video production in general (which I believe have been pretty clear?) I have tough time to see what I am personally getting from this site anymore. Also concidering these members are still going to be indivuals making serious moneys into your coffin it's somewhat inappropriate to make this sort of move.

      So I would like to ask what does player get from you for several 10k$ he might possibly be making for PS during the year? I assume such rake amounts should be compensated bit better than keeping possibility to show BM badge...
      Thanks ghaleon, fair enough. You have a point saying that our offer for the Black Members, going forward, will not be as attractive as it used to be due to stopping the BM events. However, it depends on one's needs - why are you on PokerStrategy.com as a BM? Are the events the only reason? If no - and if there are other things that keep you here, that's good because we're going to continue them.

      Top100 race, teaching materials for advanced players and community discussions - are not going anywhere. With time, you will also see more of the entertaining PokerStrategy.com side that we're working on. And of course further improvements to the website and its functioning.

      As stated in the opening post - these are the areas where we need to develop to stay competitive in the market.

      We did offer BM events as long as we could. This was a great addition and if it was doable, we would continue with them. As you probably know by now, poker market shifts its direction more towards recreational players, and we - as a part of it - also need to adjust to the current situation. Stopping BM events was not an easy or a pleasant decision but one that needed to be made. We are happy we could offer you a few years of great events, hopefully you enjoyed them too.

      Regards.
    • UPAY4DINNER
      UPAY4DINNER
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.09.2009 Posts: 21,926
      Oh dear.

      Brave step. I think you could have carried more favour by gradually removing this over the course of a few years rather than a few months. This doesnt effect 95% of the customer base (guesstimate not fact) so most of the whines in this thread are probably pointless.

      I do think that it is incredibly lopsided in relation to fairness though. You guys can change the game at will, lets face facts here that there has been a multitude of negative changes in the last year alone, yet we are not allowed to detrack or unaffiliate ourselves.

      That's not going to change though so get used to bad press, ill will etc. Its easy to do that though when making more money for giving less in return. I do hope that some of the extra revenue does go into recruiting new players like you've said above.

      Maybe release some figures in relation to new signups over the history of the community to support this. That's more beneficial than that terrible graphic you used in the opening post.
    • russo777
      russo777
      Black
      Joined: 27.01.2007 Posts: 3,182
      Originally posted by Marta
      Top100 race....
      on IPK or on sites with no traffic ..

      Originally posted by Marta
      teaching materials for advanced players...
      really ? 6max NLHE BSS diamond+ materials .. 5 videos in last 6 months :f_mad:
      and i am not even going to post picture for diamond+ material on PLO or FR NLHE not mention fix limit maybe or MTT ...

      Originally posted by Marta
      community discussions
      what will the discussions be if most of the VIPs (diamonst, BMs) leave ?

      what is the motivation for a black member to stay and play under PSGY affiliate ?
      what is the motivation for a diamond member to become a black member in the future ?
    • rompas
      rompas
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 12.02.2014 Posts: 2,395
      this means it will be more promotions for recreational players and maybe something for smaller stakes players, since now this group of players is worth more for poker rooms?

      strange how poker could grow and be bigger the 15 years i played with such a bad system as it was before,,

      i am little bit afraid that this new thinking will have a opposite effect in long time, i mean i like that recreational players or even microlimits players can get a bigger share of bonuses etc , but if it will not be attractive to get better, move up in limits and feeling that poker rooms and affilates appreciate i am using their services i will probably just remain a recreational player..

      i think pokerstrategy need this black members to keep growing because without experienced players feeling appreciated and willing to share their knowledge this site will sooner or later die,
    • Marta
      Marta
      Headadmin
      Headadmin
      Joined: 06.12.2010 Posts: 9,515
      Hi rompas,

      Originally posted by rompas
      this means it will be more promotions for recreational players and maybe something for smaller stakes players, since now this group of players is worth more for poker rooms?
      yes, nowadays there are more and more beginner-friendly promotions (best example would be the Spin&Go).

      Originally posted by rompas
      i think pokerstrategy need this black members
      ... and you are correct.

      Stopping the BM events does not mean that we aim at stopping the VIPs from visiting our website or playing. It's the opposite - we welcome both the Black Members/Diamonds and the recreational players.

      @russo777, yes - our offer for the advanced players is not as rich as for the lower limits - however, relying solely on the status assigned to the video might not be the best indicator. We release materials with marked as "gold", which might potentially be interesting for other (higher) statuses. We would also hope that people here - especially Diamonds/Black Members - who have been with us for a long time, feel a strong and needed part of the community. It would be bad indeed if our BMs left us because of the change in the BM events.
    • UPAY4DINNER
      UPAY4DINNER
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.09.2009 Posts: 21,926
      Amazed that no news piece accompanied this drastic change in policy? Trying to bury it in the forum or?
    • russo777
      russo777
      Black
      Joined: 27.01.2007 Posts: 3,182
      Originally posted by Marta
      @russo777, .....We release materials with marked as "gold", which might potentially be interesting for other (higher) statuses. ....
      would you please tell me which limits are you playing and which gold videos are you referring to ?
    • Marta
      Marta
      Headadmin
      Headadmin
      Joined: 06.12.2010 Posts: 9,515
      Originally posted by UPAY4DINNER
      Amazed that no news piece accompanied this drastic change in policy? Trying to bury it in the forum or?
      Hey Gary! The information is available to everyone in the open forum - we did not try to hide it. Additionally, every Black Member, or potentially soon-to-be Black Member, received an email from us informing about the change. We reached out to those who are affected. There was no real need to announce the same message in the news piece (that "lives" 1-2 days on the home page).

      @russo777, the point of my message was simply to try to avoid looking at our materials only through the "status tag" (tags are adjustable). You also mentioned that our offer for advanced players of e.g PLO and FL is limited - that's true. We are aware that are many players with us, playing different games - and yes, of course - we would like to make everyone happy with enough materials. However, we also need to look at the interest certain content is generating. If it's below our expectations, then we need to rethink and unfortunately cut down.

      In these cases, we always encourage the expert-members to share their knowledge with other users in the forum, promoting more of the give & take community support approach.
    • russo777
      russo777
      Black
      Joined: 27.01.2007 Posts: 3,182
      i am pretty sure i did not ask about the point. i was asking to tell me which video were you referring to because your point is not backed by any "evidence" IMO. and not to mention that I am missing the answer to my other question as well ..

      EDIT:
      Originally posted by Marta
      In these cases, we always encourage the expert-members to share their knowledge with other users in the forum, promoting more of the give & take community support approach.
      by "give and take" you mean BMs to give and PSGY to take right?
    • MasochisticDesire
      MasochisticDesire
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.10.2010 Posts: 486
      I don't understand how more people didn't predict this.
      When the poker economy is booming - all sites can afford to be all things for all people, offering content, coaches, and rewards for players off all abilities.
      When the poker economy hits harder times - sites such as PS.com must review which demographic of players it is that they are both generating most revenue from and can afford to produce content of a sufficiently high standard that they can compete with (and ideally stay ahead of) competition offering a similar service. Essentially, they have to specialize. If this specialization missed your demographic then you need to find pastures new.

      Through the majority of the content released over the past year+ it is evident which demographic PS.com has chosen and changes such as these were perfectly predictable. 'Easy to say now,' yes, I shan't argue with that and I also appreciate that I am playing at a level too low to be directly affected by the loss of BM status and my opinion is biased. That said, those of you that think the changes are symptomatic of a company grabbing what they can while they can, or of making unnecessary cuts that could be avoided, I think you have simply misjudged the poker 'eco-system.' It is my opinion that things are not so tough that it is no longer profitable for PS.com to be prioritizing longevity, nor so easy as to still be able to offer its originally wider range of services. Belts are being tightened not whipped across your buttocks.

      All the best.
    • tfsantos
      tfsantos
      Black
      Joined: 20.01.2010 Posts: 1,518
      Marta, we know you have to defend the company's decisions and that you'll try to justify this every way you can. The bad feedback in this thread will end eventually and PS will keep on going, and profiting with our game. But if this is the main point:
      All affiliates (including PokerStrategy.com) are nowadays getting paid less for VIPs.
      I would expect, as a black member (aka VIP), to get less rewards. What you decided to do is simply give no rewards. Nowadays, I usually do around 20k SPs per month and I get the same rewards as someone who makes 7500 SPs. So, you are profiting a lot with my extra rake and there's a lot of black members who rake a lot more.