PokerStars Mission Weeks – A Controversial Promotion

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This month PokerStars is running an unusual promotion, called “November Mission Weeks.”

Below you will find everything you need to know about the Mission Week promotion.

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How Mission Week works

PokerStars Mission Week first starts with a commitment from you the player.

At the beginning of the week you commit yourself to earning a certain number of VPP’s. Provided you complete your assigned “mission,” you’re rewarded with a freeroll ticket, but said freeroll is far from ordinary.

Rather, they’re a sort of glorified lottery in which every player is automatically all-in every hand, regardless of whether they’re even logged in. Sounds fun right?

Mission Week tiers: The power of the middle

The available tiers are 10, 30, 60, 150 and 500 VPPs, equivalent to roughly $2, $5, $10, $25 and $90 in rake, while the corresponding freerolls have prize pools ranging from $10k up to $250k, with 10% of the prize pool going to first.

Given the number of players who signed up to each, the giveaway for the first week amounted to about 30% rakeback for the highest and lowest tiers, and actually approached or exceeded 100% rakeback for all three middle tiers!

Despite the generous payouts, grinders the internet around have been taking to forums threads to look this particular gift horse in the mouth. Some are worried that the random nature of the “tournaments” contributes to the image of poker as a game of chance, while others pointed out that users clearing deposit bonuses can’t benefit, as VPPs can only be applied towards one bonus at a time. Still others felt that it was unfair towards high-volume grinders, since the bar was set so low for the top tier that nearly 10,000 players qualified, splitting the prize pool so many ways that it was scarcely more profitable than the next tier down.

Pulling back the curtain on Mission Week

What it comes down to, however, is that this promotion isn’t really aimed at pleasing the professionals and semi-professionals. Like last month’s Carnival tournament and Golden Sit-n-Go’s, both of which also handed out prizes at random, it seems clear that the November Mission Weeks are intended to up the fun factor for recreational players, offering them the dream of a sudden windfall.

What the promotion’s detractors need to realize is that the recreational players are ultimately the foundation of a healthy poker ecosystem, and that PokerStars is doing the sensible thing in appealing to them at a time when online poker becomes more cutthroat and difficult to beat by the day. It remains to be seen whether Mission Weeks make a return next year or are discarded as a failed experiment, but either way it seems likely that we’ll see more novel, chance-based giveaways from PokerStars in coming months.

Alex Weldon is a game designer by day and poker tournament wizard by night. You can read more from Alex at www.benefactum.ca and follow him on Twitter at @benefactumgames

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