As of today, I am sad to report that my PokerStars Team Pro Online contract has expired and I have made the decision not to renew it.
In November, as I'm sure most of you know, Stars announced a number of unpopular changes to their VIP program (details here, if you're not familiar: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/28...-club-1568814/
). There have been times when I have not seen eye to eye with PokerStars. I have vehemently opposed certain changes that were made or lobbied strongly in favor of changes which were not implemented. At the end of the day, though, I have always respected that those decisions were not mine to make and remained enthusiastic about endorsing the brand. This time is different. In the past, when I have disagreed with a PokerStars decision, it has been on practical matters of which goals are most important and which policies most effectively advance those goals. This time my disagreement is simpler, and deeper. I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically.
There's a lot not to like about these most recent changes and the way they've been communicated, but there's one aspect that I just can't accept. 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. As a four time SNE, I know what it takes to rake 1M VPP in a year. It's a tough grind. For most of the players who do it, it is an all-consuming commitment more intense than most full time jobs. Many of them have relocated far from their homes and families to pursue it. Finding out, just as you approach the finish line, that your efforts will not be rewarded as you expected them to be is brutal. I cannot in good conscience continue to endorse a poker site that treats its players this way.
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. In 2012, when I first signed with PokerStars, it was one of my proudest moments in my career as a professional poker player. The PokerStars brand was beloved by the poker community and had a well established and well deserved reputation for treating its players well. I felt thrilled and honored to have my name associated with it. And for the most part, my time at the company has been a true honor and it has been an experience I'll always be grateful for. I've learned a lot about how the poker industry works, I've made good money, and I've had the opportunity to meet and work with incredible people, both other sponsored pros and PokerStars employees. I'm proud to call many of these people my friends and it hurts to know that I won't have the chance to work with them in the same way again.
I am, however, happy and relieved to now be able to speak candidly about the recent changes. I have every intention of responding to questions and I'm excited to join the ongoing conversation. Unfortunately, as I'm going to have to actually earn my living by winning at poker this year, I'm on the next flight to Manila. Please be patient with me if my responses come slowly and at irregular intervals. Happy new year, everyone!