Amaya Gaming is now the official owners of PokerStars, and following the blockbuster sale we have entered into an exciting time for everyone involved.
Players are anticipating the return of PokerStars; Amaya is, for lack of a better analogy, like a kid on Christmas morning that just received their dream toy; and the industry types (like myself) are all abuzz over what Amaya’s takeover of PokerStars means for the industry and what types of changes we can expect to see.
Not that they need any input from me, but here are five things I would instantly implement if I was put in charge of PokerStars by Amaya Gaming.
Cut loose 90% of your sponsored pros
Let’s face it, sponsored pros were big during the Poker Boom when dozens of television stations were broadcasting poker tournaments and the chances of a random player in a patch showing up on screen were pretty high.
But this is no longer the case.
There is less poker on TV and the viewing audience is a bit more nuanced than it used to be.
Furthermore, with legal poker slowly spreading across the US it’s easier to just create a 30-second commercial.
Because of all this, I personally want to see poker sites move away from sponsored pros (they have their place, but not to the extent they are still currently being employed) and use that money elsewhere, perhaps through site promotions or mainstream marketing.
When it comes to sponsored pros I’d like to see PokerStars focus exclusively on well-known, influential, and free from scandal players. Let the second and third tier sites sign the glorified affiliates; an industry-leader like PokerStars doesn’t need to resort to this, and quite frankly, I can’t see how these players are adding to your brand.
Basically my feeling is, if you can’t design a marketing campaign around the player then why bother signing them?
Not only are they not marketable by themselves, but as we’ve seen in the past, even big name players have a tendency to get wrapped up in scandals or tarnish your brand. With the new possibilities in legal markets, there is no need to invite this potential by having a hundred poker players wearing PokerStars patches.
Run an insane deposit/reload bonus in honor of the sale
Nothing brings players to the tables faster than an easy to clear deposit/reload bonus, and if you just spent $4.9 billion on the world’s largest online poker site what’s another few hundred thousand? Of course, this is easy to say when it’s not my money.
There really isn’t any way for Amaya to one-up what PokerStars has done over the years, so it’s time to go big or go home, and by big I mean something along the lines of a $100 or $500 deposit bonus that clears at an inviting 50% Rakeback rate, on top of any other promotions/rakeback.
My feeling is that it would give a lot of players at other sites (new or past PokerStars customers) pause enough to reconsider their current online poker home.
With PokerStars on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and the company buzzing in mainstream press headlines, they seem to have a chance to step on all of their opponent’s throats if they want to. Of course, this will take a serious commitment in terms of promotional money, but I still see it as being worth it in the long run.
Run an insane giveaway promotion for new players
In a similar vein to my reload/deposit bonus, my idea for this promotion would be to give any new player a random award of $10-$1,000 after they play 100 raked hands. This award would be something like a random scratch-off card they receive at the conclusion of the promotion, with most prizes being $10 winners, with a few $100 and even fewer $1,000 prizes mixed in –maybe even a grand prize of $10,000.
The great thing about these types of flat, entirely random promotions is they appeal to everyone, and a random prize could be just the nudge a potential small-stakes player needs to finally make that first deposit and join the site.
Furthermore, do you really think the vast majority of these winners, especially the larger prizes, are going to immediately withdraw? My guess is most of them will use their new (free) funds at the PokerStars tables.
Create a weekly YouTube video series: The State of PokerStars
A lot can be said in four or five minutes and I would love to see a poker site do a better job of detailing the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and the how of their company through the online video medium —this is something Ultimate Poker has taken to doing and I really appreciate it, even if the videos are technical.
A quick weekly YouTube video series with someone like Lee Jones or Eric Hollreiser, perhaps with a revolving cast of special guests (Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, Live Boeree, etc.) could be just the thing to relay all of the important happenings at the site.
This video could detail the latest promotions, a new hire, a new license, or whatever topic they feel they should touch upon, and would be a great outreach program in my opinion, capable of reaching the masses who don’t follow 2+2 or the other “normal” outlets of poker information. It could even just be a 10 questions with so-and-so type video every so often.
Perhaps link the video and/or guest to some type of freeroll entry or some other promotion to insure that PokerStars players are watching (and not just iGaming wonks), and follow the “make it quick and make it entertaining” theory, and you could strike online poker gold.
This video blog idea worked well for Daniel Negreanu, so I think PokerStars may want to explore this medium, and it goes without saying that the poker news sites and poker portals will do write-ups on these videos every week, so at the very least it would basically turn into free advertising.
Make a five-minute video detailing what goes on behind the scenes at PokerStars HQ
Oh, wait they already did that!
I don’t like this video, I absolutely love this video. I love the transparency and the veil of secrecy being lifted from PokerStars.
The video also paints PokerStars as a legitimate company, with offices, technology, and high level security. This video makes PokerStars look more like Google as opposed to the vision most people have an online poker company: being run on a bunch of computers in someone’s basement.
This is exactly what the poker world needs right now.