The Noughties may have finished at the weekend but somebody clearly forgot to tell Victor Chandler, who begun the New Year ominously by emailing all of their most successful players informing them that, thanks all the same, but they wouldn’t be requiring any more of their custom.
In a knee-jerk reaction to the edict sent out from on high by their ridiculous network provider iPoker – who had told them that they would face fines if they continued to populate their site with winning players – VC Poker sent out the sort of missive this particular Staff Writer has received all too regularly from employers over the years.
‘If you are not already aware iPoker will be implementing a new policy in the New Year which will categorize players depending upon certain criteria,’ reads the email. ‘The new policy will also impose penalties upon card rooms that in essence, have a high proportion of winning players in relation to losing players.
‘Regrettably therefore, we are being forced to restrict a number of accounts in order to comply with the new policy and to avoid penalization by iPoker and it grieves me to inform you that we have no option for the time being other than to restrict the cash game stakes at which you can play on Victor Chandler Poker.
‘We sincerely regret having to take this action and hope that the policy will change in the future so that you may once again enjoy playing cash games at Victor Chandler Poker.’
‘In the meantime, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience that this action will cause but know that you can still play in our tournaments and on any other of the Victor Chandler suite of products.
Victor Chandler International’
In other words. Bugger off.
Not only is barring the sharks a disastrous PR move, but it also doubles up as double whammy; an extra special insult to all those losers – like me – who have been deemed so shit that they have not received the email. As L’Oreal wouldn’t say, ‘Because you’re not worth it’.
To be honest the situation has been coming to a head for some time. Although iPoker have not operated a rakeback policy for a number of years, various dodgy poker affiliates have been waging a rakeback war, undercutting each other to attract winning players to certain white-labelled poker rooms, or skins, at deals of up to 60%.
The skins, rather than spending money on marketing to attract new players to bring in the much-needed deposits and liquidity to grease the engine of their business, have also been guilty of offering various illegal deals to winning players, or sharks, who have continued to abandon one skin after the other with every more juicy bone that is dangled in front of them.
It was a win-win situation for the sharks, but a losing chain reaction for the networks, which, when they weren’t losing players to headhunters, saw their profits eaten up by the sharks’ ever-expanding slice of the pie. Being tight players who withdrew winnings more than they deposited money, these sharks also whittled down revenues even further.
The next knock-on effect for profits came as the losing players, or fish, began to be scared off by the sharks to whom they continued to lose. With less fresh deposits coming in, even less money was available to spend on attracting new customers and so the ever-decreasing circle continued on its miserable course.
To be honest iPoker, Victor Chandler and their like have only themselves to blame for the current state of affairs as it was their short-term thinking that led to where we are today. And while it is their prerogative to turn away customers from their doors they will only lose out in the long run as players have long memories.
Obviously something needs to be done about rakeback deals – loyalty programmes are surely better business – and the benefit of offering deals to Poker Pros at all should be re-considered, but more creative thinking needs to be applied to attracting new blood and fish retention.
PokerStars have begun the year in the right vein by introducing New Year incentives to both cash and tournament players. For purveyors of the cash game, PokerStars are offering a 25% reload bonus until 10 January, while tournament players will get to take part in The Million Dollar Challenge: The Head Hunt, which starts this Monday at 7pm.
I for one will be getting involved in this as it gives me the chance to win big money, which I know I won’t, for an $11 entry fee. There is also the added bonus of winning cash prizes for knocking out any one of PokerStars’ marquis names.
For example, if you knock out Daniel Negreanu you can win $1,000, while taking out Vanessa Rousso (and who wouldn’t?), Chris Moneymaker, Barry Greenstein or Joe Cada will net you $750.
Now, being the sort of player VC Poker has not emailed recently, I know I won’t win The Head Hunt – and the odds of me knocking out a star name are longer than Tiger Woods’ winning the 2010 Husband Of The Year award, but there’s no harm in giving it a go and it’ll be fun. And that’s just the point. iPoker; VC Poker, please take note.